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When The Devy Breaks: Cam Akers Faces His Toughest Test of 2018

When the Devy Breaks travels the college football landscape, keeping you up-to-date on last week’s results, previewing the big upcoming tilts, and providing updated devy rankings.

First of all, congrats to Purdue. After starting the season 0-3 the Boilermakers have ripped off four-consecutive wins including a rout of Ohio State on Saturday. With the college football spotlight on them, Washington State knocked off Oregon 34-20, keeping the booze and (legal) marijuana markets afloat for the foreseeable future in Pullman.

Alabama and Clemson rolled to victories, clearly demonstrating the gap between themselves and the rest of the country. LSU and Michigan put up impressive defensive showings against Mississippi State and Michigan State, respectively. And Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray continued his Heisman Trophy campaign leading the Sooners to a statement win on the road against TCU, 52-27.

Florida/Georgia in Jacksonville is the centerpiece of the upcoming slate but there’s other action worth keeping an eye on. Texas looks to avoid an upset at Oklahoma State, Iowa will be seeking revenge for last year’s last-second loss against Penn State, and Washington State will try to avoid a letdown on the road against Stanford.

RECAP

California RB Patrick Laird racked up 241 total yards and 3 touchdowns against Oregon State last weekend. As a redshirt junior last season he rushed for 1,127 yards and 8 TDs, adding a 45/322/1 receiving line, good enough for a 0.67 Workhorse Score. Laird isn’t receiving much draft buzz at the moment as an older, somewhat unknown prospect who may be lacking in terms on NFL-type athleticism. But his pass-catching — 3.5 receptions per game in 22 career games — combined with his strong workhorse resume are enough to keep me intrigued until we get actionable information to the contrary.

Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr. went for 10-163-2 last weekend against Minnesota helping to secure the Cornhuskers‘ first win of 2018. After breaking out (0.37 Dominator Rating) in 2017, the 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pound senior has been consistent, albeit somewhat underwhelming, during the turbulent start to Scott Frost’s tenure. While comparisons to DeAndre Hopkins might be a bit premature, Morgan Jr. is undoubtedly an intriguing 2019 prospect not getting the attention he rightly deserves based on past production.

Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown put up a 10-155-1 line on Saturday in a losing effort against Auburn. The 6-foot-1-inch, 220-pound junior has been a devy darling for sometime now and is regarded as a top 2019 prospect, likened by some to JuJu Smith-Schuster. The fact that 41 percent of Brown’s career yards receiving have come against non-P5 teams in just 9 games is somewhat concerning. But he checks the age-adjusted production box and will likely end up as high draft pick. His combine results should give us a better idea of his true ceiling at the next level.

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

After posting a solid 0.57 first-year Workhorse Score as a true freshman last season, Florida State RB Cam Akers has struggled in 2018. An offensive line ranked 128th nationally in Line Yards per carry according to Football Outsiders is certainly one reason why. Despite a dip in efficiency and TDs, Akers has accounted for 61 percent of the Seminoles’ non-QB rushing production and has been a plus contributor as a receiver averaging 2 receptions per game. Akers remains among the top tier in the 2020 RB class and is an interesting acquisition target in devy leagues if he’s being devalued based on his slow start. He’ll face a Clemson defense that ranks first in defensive rushing S&P+ on Saturday.

Iowa TE Noah Fant has the best blend of production and athleticism of any current college TE. As a sophomore last season he posted a 0.30 Dominator Rating which is extremely rare for college prospects at the position. He’s followed up last year’s impressive showing by accounting for 28 percent of the Hawkeyes’ receiving production though 7 games this season. Fant broke school records this spring in both the vertical jump and pro agility drills and should blow up at the combine when he eventually declares. Sophomore TE T.J. Hockenson has put a cap on Fant’s ceiling thus far but he remains my top-ranked TE in the 2019 class. This week he faces a Penn State defense ranked 20th against the pass per S&P+.

Fresno State WR KeeSean Johnson has quietly put together an extremely impressive production resume over the last three seasons. As a 20-year-old sophomore in 2016 he posted a 0.38 Dominator Rating. As a junior, 0.36. In 7 games this season, 0.38. The combination of early-age dominance and consistency makes the 6-foot-2-inch, 199-pound senior one of the best non-P5 WR prospects in the 2019 class. We still don’t know about his athleticism and ultimate draft position, both important factors in the evaluation process. But based on what we do know, Johnson appears to be undervalued in the dynasty marketplace. I expect him to feast this weekend on Hawaii’s defense ranked 128th against the pass per S&P+.

Check out my updated devy rankings. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or the message boards to let me know what you think.

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