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Devy Weekly: RB Explosions and a QB Resurrection

Welcome to the second installment of the 2019 Devy Weekly series! Every single week we’ll be covering some top college football players that just helped their case for a shot at an NFL future. We’ll break it 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 1 of college football! It certainly makes it tough to pick which players to highlight, but just like last week here are seven players that absolutely dominated their respective games.

Quarterback

Jacob Eason, Washington

*Insert “That’s a Name I’ve Not Heard In a Long Time” Obi-Wan Kenobi GIF Here*

Yes, for those avid SEC college football fans, it’s that Jacob Eason. For those unfamiliar with Eason’s journey, he originally enrolled at Georgia in 2016 as a five-star recruit, the fifth-highest-rated football player in the entire nation. In fact, regardless of recruiting class, Eason was rated higher than every single quarterback that was drafted this past spring (Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, etc.) by the 247Sports Composite Ranking (combines all top recruiting service rankings). Eason was supposed to be the next great college quarterback. And as a true freshman, things looked on schedule for him. He posted a 2:1 TD:INT ratio and led Georgia to an 8-5 finish in Kirby Smart’s first season coaching the Bulldogs.

Sadly, disaster struck in 2017. Eason injured his knee in the first game of the season against Appalachian State. Jake Fromm came in as his replacement and never relinquished the starting job. Eason’s final game action for Georgia came against Vanderbilt in garbage time. His first play was a huge sack and fumble. He recovered, going 3-for-3 on his next (and final) drive, but it was too little too late.

However, this year begins a new chapter. Eason took his first live snaps at starting quarterback in 692 days this past weekend in his Washington debut, and it was glorious. It may have just been against Eastern Washington, but Eason was perfect. He tossed the rock 36 times for 349 yards and four touchdowns, completing 75% of his passes. It looks like Eason’s out to make a statement this season and finally has the unopposed opportunity to do so. If he continues to dominate as he enters the PAC-12 part of Washington’s schedule Eason may find himself drafted in round one of next spring’s NFL Draft.

Running Back

Travis Etienne, Clemson

Everybody and their mother-in-law’s Yorkie likely new that Travis Etienne was a top running back well before this past week. But any time a Power Five conference RB drops over 200 rushing yards in a game it’s noteworthy. And Etienne decided to drop his 205 rushing yards on just 12 carries against Georgia Tech! That’s 17.3 yards per carry for those keeping track. His 90-yard touchdown certainly helped that average, but Etienne only saw one of his 12 carries go for less than six yards. And 97 of his 205 rushing yards came after contact! He isn’t just a sprinter anymore.

Etienne only caught one pass for three yards, but it was one he had to high point in the flat. Hopefully he continues to improve as a receiver.

Etienne was always going to be one of the top running backs drafted in 2020, but if he continues to pile up performances like last week he could be the first running back off the board.

Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

If you checked out my 2019 College Football Watch List piece last week you understood the opportunity at hand for Chuba Hubbard. Oklahoma State sent Justice Hill to the Ravens and J.D. King to Georgia Southern, so it was clearly going to be the Hubbard Show in 2019. That was apparently an understatement.

Hubbard crushed Oregon State for 221 rushing yards and three scores on 26 carries. And just like Etienne, Hubbard isn’t just a sprinter anymore. More than 100 of his 221 yards came after contact. And even though Oregon State clearly new the run was coming (OSU ran 52 times to just 24 pass attempts) they couldn’t do a thing to stop Hubbard. Only two of Hubbard’s carries failed to gain positive yardage and in both cases it was due to a blitz of the defense that caught him right at the point of hand off. That’s a 92% rate of positive gain (similar to Le’Veon Bell and some of the other best backs in the NFL).

Hubbard kicks off the season as the leading rusher for all of college football. If he holds anything near that pace this former track star should vault up draft boards.

Wide Receiver

Rashod Bateman, Minnesota

Many college football fans have heard of Tyler Johnson, stud wide receiver for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Rashod Bateman is the other Gopher receiver you should definitely get to know. Regardless of how little Minnesota typically throws the ball, Bateman actually posted one of the most impressive freshman seasons in the country last season from an adjusted production standpoint.

2021 Eligible WR Adjusted Production Index

PlayerPeak Adjusted DominatorPeak ADR Z-ScorePeak Adjusted YPTAPeak AYPTA Z-ScorePeak Adjusted TDPTAPeak ATDPTA Z-ScoreAdjusted Production IndexNFL Prospect Percentile
Rondale Moore0.372572350.3225489062.47151277-0.0432186210.023575640.0690335380.3553.7%
Justyn Ross0.25831706-0.6611907462.11744779-0.4321170530.01905703-0.352782213-1.4529.9%
Rashod Bateman0.27969786-0.4771017572.03468208-0.5230253790.01734104-0.512971211-1.5128.7%
Seth Williams0.27478265-0.5194217841.82204726-0.7565795370.01706037-0.539171973-1.8225.3%
Jeshaun Jones0.29328908-0.3600811621.19502075-1.4452938690.02074689-0.19503247-2.0023.1%
Amon-Ra St. Brown0.22777457-0.9241620132.04035364-0.5167958430.00816141-1.369896795-2.8116.8%
Jaylen Waddle0.15465833-1.5536938671.93607306-0.6313357050.01598174-0.639862921-2.8216.8%

Yes, Rondale Moore is a unicorn that already has a perfectly pro-ready production profile. But beyond the great true freshman producer of all-time, Justyn Ross and Rashod Bateman create the next tier of elite early breakout receiver eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft.

And now Bateman’s at it again. This past week he grabbed five receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown. It may have just been against South Dakota State, but his adjusted production numbers were what cause the most intrigue. His teammate, Johnson, usually sees nearly half of the team’s receiving offense, but this week it was reversed. Bateman posted an 87.5% dominator rating, and 99th percentile yards per team pass attempt and touchdowns per team pass attempt numbers.

And then, of course, he also hauled in a one-handed 42-yard touchdown. So that’s nice. Keep an eye on this Golden Gopher this season. He’s already ranked inside the top 48 devy prospects among our RotoViz team. But if he keeps this up he’ll certainly move up our ranks quickly.

Sage Surratt, Wake Forest

If you read my official College Football Watch List last week you would not have been surprised at all to see Sage Surratt absolutely explode for seven receptions, 158 yards, and a touchdown in Week 1.

Surratt is 6 feet 3 inches and 215 pounds, but has adequate speed to work downfield route-runninging ability to separate, and strength to win in contested situations. And now he finally has the opportunity to use it all.

However, Surratt’s raw statistics from week one are a great example of why the Adjusted Production Index can tell a more complete story. His dominator was an impressive 36%. However, his yards per team pass attempt (slightly stickier than dominator in predicting future production) was a full standard deviation and a half below average. And his touchdowns per team pass attempt numbers were just about average. What does that mean? If he entered the NFL Draft today his production profile would be around 28th percentile by typical NFL prospect standards.

Surratt has all season long to improve his per snap efficiency now that he’s the clear WR1 for the Demon Deacons. We’ll see how long it takes the rest of the NFL Draft community to come around on this true X receiver.

Tight End

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

For those unfamiliar with collegiate tight end production, you need to understand one thing: it’s scarce. When tight ends do much of anything as a receiver on a consistent basis that automatically puts them in a near elite tier of production. Enter: 2019 Brycen Hopkins.

Through week one of college football action, only one tight end in the country has more receiving yards: Brevin Jordan, Miami. Jordan was last week’s devy darling at TE. Now it’s Hopkins’ turn.

Last season Hopkins took a backseat to a veteran receiving corps and the breakout of true freshman phenom, Rondale Moore. But this year, Hopkins will likely function as the team’s second leading target and he certainly looks ready. Hopkins posted a 21% dominator against Nevada, which easily counts for breakout numbers at the position. Hopkins is already being talked about as an early round tight end in a few spots, but that buzz should continue as his TD% and target market share hold pace all season long.

IDP (Individual Defensive Player)

Kenny Willekes, Michigan State (Edge, Defensive Line)

There was no more dominant player in all of college football this past week than Kenny Willekes. Willekes grabbed seven total tackles, two for a loss, a sack, two fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown. That’s what you call a dominant performance.

Willekes already had an eight-sack season with more than 20 tackles for loss in 2018. He could have gone pro this spring. But it looks like his decision to pad his stock even further might have been the right move. Expect a few more monster games for this force off the edge that could play a number of different roles in the pros.

I hope you enjoyed the second 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!

Image Credit: David Flowers/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Chuba Hubbard.

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