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2017 Prospect Preview: 3 Small-School Prospects to Watch

The offseason is my favorite part of dynasty fantasy football. It’s true. It may be because I only have a few teams in contention year in and year out. Whatever the reason, I’ve found evaluating rookies, NFL free agency moves, and offseason fantasy transactions to be the most enjoyable part of dynasty leagues.

One of the best ways to turn a bad fantasy roster into a playoff contender is to hit on late-round rookie picks. Thanks to the work of Jake Rickrode, we know that rookie picks after round two are extreme long shots to hit. But there are some superstars from this cohort. Just this past year we saw Tyreek Hill,1 Robby Anderson,2 and Dak Prescott3 contribute to fantasy wins. These picks are cheap4 and the odds are long. But we don’t play the lottery to win, we play for the thrill of the sweat.

We are in the middle of our bowl prospect previews, but I’m going to highlight some non-bowl game players. We are still early in the process, but here are a few intriguing WRs to keep an eye on as we go through the offseason.

Jerome Lane, WR, Akron

Lane possesses great NFL size at 6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds. Here is a look at his production at Akron.

2015 782 20.1 8 0.31 0.40
2016 1,018 16.4 6 0.33 0.24
Career 1,800 17.8 14 0.32 0.32

A solid career line as he finished with a 0.32 Dominator Rating in his short, two-year career. Lane, the son of the former NBA first-round pick of the same name, will be interesting to watch during the athletic testing portion of the offseason. Still only 20 years old,5 Lane has room to improve as a WR. NFL Draft Scout has him ranked as the 52nd WR in this class and CBS Sports doesn’t have him ranked at all. This should change as we get deeper into the offseason and closer the draft.

Billy Brown, WR, Shepherd

Much like Jerome Lane, Billy Brown is a massive prospect at 6 feet 4 inches and 241 pounds. Brown played at D-II Shepherd where he enjoyed a strong career.

2016 1580 16 22 0.36 0.58
2015 1492 16.8 10 0.40 0.29
2014 676 18.8 6 0.29 0.32
2013 Red Shirt
2012 323 12.9 5 0.13 0.33

The bad news first:

  1. Mystery red shirt. I could not find the reason why he redshirted in 2013 so I don’t know if it’s injury, academics or what.
  2. He is five years removed from high school which should make him about 23 years old.

Now, the good news:

  1. Played as a freshman.
  2. Full-time starter in three of four active seasons.
  3. As a starter, Brown sported a 0.38 Dominator Rating.

As a D-II player, we would like to see a little bit higher Dominator Rating. But overall, the numbers look pretty good. Testing will be crucial but if the big fella can get his forty around 4.55, his Freak Score would be in the vicinity of guys like Michael Floyd (78), Donte Moncrief (78), Mike Evans (76) and Brandon Marshall (75). That’s a big “if,” of course.

NFL Draft Scout has him ranked 14th in this class and CBS Sports has him slotted in at 26th. You can watch him next in the East-West Shrine Game on January 21. In the meantime, you can check out a few games on Draft Breakdown.

Garry Brown, WR, California (PA)

Last, but certainly not least on our list is Garry Brown from Cal (PA), a school I didn’t even know existed. Listed at 6 feet 1 inch and 200 pounds, Brown had a productive career.

2013 115 23 2 0.04 0.11
2014 1,143 18.4 8 0.37 0.33
2015 1,028 16.1 11 0.33 0.46
2016 1,475 16.2 22 0.45 0.52

We can see that Brown was a focal point of the pass game from the time he became a full-time starter in 2014. He never failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards and posted a Dominator Rating of 0.41 over that time. Throughout his career, Brown did some spot return duty on both kicks and punts. Overall, he returned 26 kicks for 689 yards and a touchdown; He also returned 32 punts for 437 yards and three more touchdowns. He was also a finalist for the 2016 Harlon Hill Trophy which is essentially the D-II Heisman award. Currently, Brown sits 25th on NFL Draft Scout and 39th on CBS Sports.

These are just a few of the many under-the-radar types that may make an impact over the next few months as we get closer to the draft. I’ll be sure to update the testing results as they come in. All rookie picks have long odds to hit, but these guys have the right production profiles to be useful at the next level.

  1. Rookie ADP of 4.04 on drafts started after August 25, according to MFL.  (back)
  2. 5.10  (back)
  3. Undrafted  (back)
  4. essentially free  (back)
  5. He will turn 21 in March.  (back)

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