Welcome to the fourth installment of the 2019 Devy Weekly series! If you’ve been following along, we’ve been covering top college football players who recently helped their case for a shot at an NFL future. And we’re back at it again! We’ll break this down by position, giving you players to target in all areas of need for your dynasty rosters.
If you’re new to Devy Leagues, the long and short of it is this: You get to draft college football players and roster them long before they are drafted to an NFL roster.
Some of these players will be names that you recognize. Others might be the kind of player you didn’t know until yesterday. Regardless, the point is to provide you with some names to tuck away for draft day or give you potential trade targets in your leagues.
There were so many players that killed it in Week 3 of college football! It certainly makes it tough to pick which players to highlight, but just like last week and every week here are seven players who absolutely dominated their respective games.
Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
“Psh! Hurts won’t play QB in the pros!” – Lots of you, probably
Before you immediately dismiss Hurts, let’s talk about his progression.
For those who have watched college football much since 2016, you’re probably already familiar with Jalen Hurts. But if you’re new to the party, here’s the short of it:
Hurts went 26-2 as a starter with Alabama but was benched in the 2017 National Championship Game for true freshman Tua Tagovailoa. He then totally redeemed himself by leading Alabama to an insane comeback in the 2018 SEC Championship Game (since Tua was struggling with injury). And then this year he transferred to “Heisman University” (Oklahoma) to finish out his career. And wow, that looks like an incredible decision so far.
But back to Hurts’ progression throughout college. Let’s just look at how he’s improved every season.
So, 2019 Jalen is good, huh? Yes. Yes, he is. But he’s been improving since the beginning. In his first season at Alabama, Hurts truly struggled as a passer. His average pass depth and adjusted passing numbers weren’t even near NCAA average. But, he found success because he relied on his elite athleticism and the playmakers around him. However, in Year 2, Hurts cleaned up his decision-making (posting an insane 99th percentile 0.39% interception rate) while also improving on his adjusted passing numbers. It wasn’t until the end of the year that he struggled. 2018 didn’t give us much of a sample since Tagovailoa was starting most of the time, but his Georgia game was incredible.
With time running out on his collegiate carer Hurts is clearly looking to make a statement now. He’s posting career best rate stats in every single meaningful category thus far. And his UCLA game was essentially perfect. He opened it up with 99 rushing yards on the first drive of the game (thanks to a holding penalty that added ten potential yards). Then he closed it out with a 75% completion rate, three passing touchdowns, and 289 passing yards before the Sooners took the foot off the pedal early in the fourth quarter. Hurts just embarrassed UCLA on every drive.
Hurts is still not a perfect passer, but he’s beginning to show some anticipation and improvement. If Hurts puts up the Heisman season he’s already begun there’s no way he doesn’t get drafted inside Day 2 by some team. He may take some time to develop, but Hurts has already shown that he can be a game manager that makes solid decisions and gets it to his playmakers. There are at least a few NFL teams that could use that right now.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
It’s nice to see J.K. Dobbins taking full advantage of the opportunity at hand this season (finally). Last year was up and down, all around, with inconsistency galore for Dobbins. This past weekend Dobbins dropped his third straight game with 100 yards from scrimmage against Indiana, and things shouldn’t slow down any time soon thanks to his 21.3 touches per game in one of the best offenses in the country.
And in case you forgot, Dobbins entered college as absolutely the most athletic back in his entire class. He ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash (84th percentile among NFL combine RBs since 2000). His short shuttle was 4.09 seconds (88th percentile for NFL RBs). And his vertical jump was an absurd 43 inches (99th percentile)!
Dobbins is currently on pace for a 2,000-yard season. He’s going to destroy the NFL combine next spring. There aren’t any glaring analytical flaws to his prospect profile at all. Dobbins should be firmly back inside the top-15 devy fantasy football prospects in the nation and could very well creep past a few other top options in the 2020 class if he continues to dominate for the Buckeyes.
Darius Anderson, TCU
Speaking of athletic freaks, Darius Anderson is a name more people should know. Anderson allegedly runs a sub-4.4 40-yard dash and can squat 660 pounds (!!!), more than three times his body weight.
That elite-level burst has shown itself at times through Anderson’s career, but he’s never had a full-blown breakout season. Part of that has to do with TCU’s inconsistency at quarterback. Some of it has to do with their backfield committee tendencies. But regardless of any potential excuses, Anderson needs a truly spectacular final season to secure any kind of significant draft capital next spring. The good news is he’s off to the best start of his career.
He wasn’t asked to do much against Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Division 47 football team in Week 1. But against Purdue, Anderson crushed it for 179 rushing yards on just 16 carries. Anderson logged three explosive plays of over 20 yards and lost yardage on exactly zero of his 18 total touches against the Boilermakers.
Anderson still needs to show some receiving chops and put a full season together, but if he gets an NFL combine invite, watch out. He could easily log a similar combine to Justice Hill (4.4 forty and insane burst score). That combined with a solid 2019 might be enough to earn him mid-round capital, even in a stacked running back class.
Tyler Johnson, Minnesota
“Tyler Johnson has one of the most impressive production profiles in college football.”
You may have heard something like this already, but what does it mean?
I’d encourage you to check out the importance of peak production with my Adjusted Production Index. That, along with a ton of other research from RotoViz, explains just how important college production is in predicting NFL success.
And as I outlined in my College Receiving Production Analysis this summer, Tyler Johnson is truly ridiculous. Heading into this season Johnson could have done absolutely nothing and his production profile would slot in at the 98th percentile. However, with a couple more performances like last weekend — 10 catches, 140 yards, three touchdowns — he may actually improve on that mark!
Let’s check out the top production profiles among Power Five Conference NFL prospects at the WR position heading into this season.
|Player||Peak Adjusted Dominator||Peak ADR Z-Score||Peak Adjusted Yards Per Team Pass Att||Peak AYPTA Z-Score||Peak Adjusted Touchdowns Per Team Pass Attempt||Peak ATDPTA Z-Score||Adjusted Production Index||NFL Prospect Percentile|
Yes, you read that right. Johnson’s profile crushes the entire college football receiver field from a production standpoint. Essentially, when you combine three of the most predictive production metrics into a singular score Johnson already profiles as a 98th percentile NFL prospect. In fact, if he receives draft capital in the late first to early third-round range (current expectations) these are his closest production and draft capital based comps: Jordy Nelson, Sidney Rice, and Tyler Lockett.
When you mix the production profile with the immediate pass on the “eye test” from the old school football analysts you get an elite devy prospect. All Tyler Johnson has to do is stay healthy and post even mediocre numbers down the stretch this season and he should coast to day two draft capital.
Antonio Gandy-Golden is more than just a long name. Gandy-Golden is off to a blazing start in 2019! He kicked things off with six catches for 119 yards against Syracuse. Then he caught another six balls against Louisiana. And this past weekend he hauled in another eight receptions for 174 yards and two scores!
“Who is this guy?” – Anyone who looks at NCAA receiving leaderboards this week
The answer to that question: “An incredible receiver that’s been dominating now for three straight seasons.”
2019 should be Gandy-Golden’s third straight 1,000-yard season with double-digit touchdowns, but he’s still hardly mentioned in NFL Draft conversations. But why? How?
One huge reason is that Liberty was only recently promoted to Division I football last season. Gandy-Golden’s first 1,000-yard season (with six 100-yard games) came in 2017 when Liberty was still an FCS team. And you’d think that somewhat dampens Gandy-Golden’s stats in 2017, but the truth is that Liberty still played some D-I teams that year. In fact, Liberty’s first game of 2017 came against Baylor. Gandy-Golden caught 13 receptions for 192 yards and two scores. He’s been destroying defenses ever since.
Gandy-Golden already has a 67th percentile Adjusted Production Index score. He’s 6 feet 4 inches and 220 pounds with speed to push deep. Tuck his name away for next spring’s draft if you want the potential steal of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Hunter Bryant, Washington
After Hunter Bryant’s five-catch 115-yard performance last week he leads all tight ends in receptions and receiving yards. And he’s doing this on a college offense that only throws the ball 31 times per game. And no disrespect to Aaron Fuller (future NFL WR), but Bryant is the real WR1 for the Huskies right now. In fact, Bryant’s on pace for over 1,000 receiving yards on the season! It’s definitely still early, but a 1000-yard season from a tight end would be a nearly unprecedented feat (except Dennis Pitta in 2008 for BYU).
Bryant looks like a hybrid between Evan Engram and Mark Andrews. At 6 feet 2 inches and 240 pounds with decent speed, Bryant profiles like the perfect modern-day “move” tight end for the NFL. The only issue may end up being his health. Bryant’s only averaged seven healthy games per season for the Huskies so far. However, if he can buck that trend and post anywhere near the numbers he’s currently pacing for Bryant will be drafted inside day two.
IDP (Individual Defensive Player)
Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (Safety or WLB)
Not many defensive players in college football have the potential to be the best prospect at two different positions. Isaiah Simmons is just unique like that.
Simmons played his first three seasons for Clemson at safety, but would drop down in the slot, play some linebacker, and even blitz the quarterback at times. Then this year, somewhat out of necessity, but also because of his ball hawk instincts, Dabo Swinney decided to slot in him into a linebacker role just about full time. That’s worked out so far.
Simmons racked up 11 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, and two sacks in last weekend’s matchup against Syracuse. If he keeps this up he’ll be in most everyone’s “defensive player of the year” award conversations. And since he plays for Clemson Simmons will continue to be hyped up thanks to a healthy dose of prime time games. He’ll need to add some weight to play linebacker in the pros (currently listed at 6’4″, 225), but his play speed and instincts are already on a professional level. Expect top 50 NFL Draft capital for this young man very soon.
I hope you enjoyed the fourth Devy Weekly of 2019! Expect more future NFL prospect coverage throughout the season. Find me @FF_TravisM on Twitter if you have any questions. And until next time, keep living that Dynasty Life!