It’s bowl season, which means it’s time to get your last look at players eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft and your first look at promising young prospects. Team RotoViz will be bringing you previews of all bowl games with the players to watch at the fantasy-relevant positions. If you want to see the previews for other college bowl games, be sure to check out the 2014-15 RotoViz College Bowl Games Playbook. Also, if you want to hear discussion about some college bowl games and NFL draft prospects, be sure to listen to upcoming episodes of RotoViz Radio. Without further adieu, let’s look at . . .
The Alamo Bowl features two teams with quality quarterback play and solid overall units. Both Brett Hundley and Jake Waters enter bowl season with better pass efficiency ratings and Total QBR numbers than Jameis Winston. The offenses may have a slight edge, but each defense counts at least one standout game on its resume. The Wildcats held down an elite Auburn offense early in the year, and the Bruins completely smothered Pac-12 South champion Arizona.
No. 14 UCLA Bruins 9-3
Hundley completed 70 percent of his passes in 2014 but only averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. This perhaps illustrates why NFL evaluators are split on his pro projection, but it could also be the result of offensive scheme, schedule strength, and lack of a supporting cast. During his entire collegiate career, the best receivers he had at his disposal were Jordan Payton, Shaq Evans, and Joseph Fauria.
The 6’3” 227 pound quarterback posted three impressive seasons at UCLA with a combined 74-25 TD/INT ratio and 9,830 total passing yards. He also ran for 1,651 yards and 28 touchdowns. He wasn’t a one year wonder or the beneficiary of playing against younger opponents. In 2014 he led the nation’s fourth most efficient offense despite the lack of playmakers around him.
Contrast his season to that of Jameis Winston. The former Heisman Trophy winner collapsed without Kelvin Benjamin even though he faced an easier schedule – there are different measures of schedule strength, but SR/College Football had UCLA at No. 2 and Florida State at No. 33 – and still had Rashad Greene.
Quarterback tends to be the most difficult of the skill positions to project using statistical measures, but it’s hard not to think Hundley might be falling into the undervalued category. If you’re looking for a QB using an evidence-based approach, you want him to be big and athletic with multiple impressive passing seasons and an early breakout age. You would like to see a high completion percentage and an ability to avoid turnovers.
Many are not convinced of Hundley’s decision-making, pocket awareness, or ability to read defenses and execute pro-style concepts, but these are the types of evaluations where it is much easier to attach a narrative after the fact than make an accurate projection before seeing the player on an NFL field. Nevertheless, he needs a big game against Kansas State after floundering in an embarrassing loss to Stanford.
Perkins joins Devontae Booker and Javorius Allen as the only Pac-12 players with 1300-plus rushing yards and 200-plus receiving yards. He was the only Pac-12 rusher to carry 200-plus times and still average at least 6.0 yards per carry, although he was also the only member in that group to find the end zone fewer than 10 times. At 5’11 and 200 pounds with 50 receptions through two seasons, he’s a threat to eventually end up as a Profile 2 back.
After Evans moved on to the NFL, Payton became Hundley’s top target in 2014 with 901 yards and 7 touchdowns. That gives him a DR of 0.29. He dominated the Arizona schools with a 5-151-2 line against ASU and a 6-119-1 game against the Wildcats. Those were the two most notable wins of the season for UCLA, and the Bruins will likely need a similar effort to get by Kansas State.
No. 11 Kansas State Wildcats 9-3
Although far less heralded, Waters was also one of college football’s top dual threat quarterbacks. After winning a national juco championship in 2012, he posted back-to-back 157 QB Ratings for Kansas State and averaged more yards per attempt (9.4) than Hundley. During those campaigns, he also ran for 783 yards and 14 touchdowns. He finished the 2014 season on fire, going for 994 yards and 7 touchdowns over his final three.
Lockett is generating surprisingly little buzz despite an unparalleled career at K-State. He recently passed Jordy Nelson and leads the Wildcats in career receiving yards, catches, and touchdowns. He’s been simultaneously efficient and explosive. Take a quick look at Lockett’s heat map compared to T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, and Brandin Cooks. Keep in mind this doesn’t include his record-breaking senior season.
Lockett’s numbers hold up nicely. In fact, he sports the best Dominator Rating, the best red zone touchdown numbers, and the best ability to turn targets into yards. Although his 2014 market share numbers dropped slightly, he again posted a DR above 0.40, making him the only member of the quartet to go over that level twice.
Kansas State’s running back tandem of Charles Jones and DeMarcus Robinson failed to combine for 1,000 yards and averaged only 4.1 yards per carry. Without a big rushing presence, Lockett and secondary receiver Curry Sexton will need to put on a show for the Wildcats to pull off the victory.