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There is a growing movement in the Dynasty community toward “devy” players. The term “devy” refers to developmental players carried on the dynasty league rosters. These devy players are usually college players but can even be high school athletes. During each week of the season, we will look at a different set of devy rankings.
In dynasty leagues that include devy players, there are a two main things to consider: when the player is NFL Draft eligible and how well the player's attributes will translate to the NFL level. Each of these seems straight forward. Well, they are not. We regularly see players, especially at the quarterback position, stay in school a year or two longer after they are draft eligible. In addition, just because a player is a great college player, it does not necessarily mean he possesses the size, speed, and aptitude for excelling at the professional level.
This series of articles will focus on players who should be considered on their respective NFL prospects, not college production. We will begin the series with a look at a few of the top players who will be eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft. These are just tidbits on the high profile players, not rankings. Those will come Week 1.
Leonard Fournette (LSU) – The bruising runner finished as a Consensus All-American. In an Adrian Peterson-like manner, Fournette was physically able to enter the NFL coming out of high school and is tearing up all defenses, even the strong defenses of the SEC. He has to wait the NFL-mandated three years out of high school before turning pro. This means Fournette will enter the 2017 NFL Draft. At a whopping 6'2”, 227 pounds, Fournette is thought to run a 4.40 40-yard dash. He runs over, through, and around defenders. Through the 2015 regular season, Fournette carried the ball 271 times for 1,741 yards and 18 touchdowns. He did this damage in just 11 games. Entering the 2016 season, Fournette ranks as our top devy player overall.
Dalvin Cook (Florida State) – The 5'11”, 197-pound runner played the best football of his collegiate career in 2015. His legal issues are now in the rear view mirror. Florida State made a push for the playoffs on the legs of the talented Sophomore, coming up a little short. Cook finished seventh in his run for the Heisman Trophy. He has the ability to break off big plays a few times each game. A compact frame, elusive open-field moves, and breakaway speed are a lethal combination for Seminoles opponents. For the 2015 season, Cook ran the ball 211 times for 1,658 yards and 18 touchdowns. Those are very impressive numbers. He still added another 218 yards and a score through the air. In just 11 games, Cook averaged 161 total yards and almost two touchdowns per game. Amazing numbers.
Deshaun Watson (Clemson) – Watson is one of the most electric players in college football. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting and was named Consensus All-American. Watson is a star, leading his team into the college playoffs. He has a rifle for an arm and is not afraid to throw the ball into tight spaces. His size (or lack thereof), 6'3”, 188 pounds, is a worry for many after Watson's lengthy injury history. The Junior is a weapon as a runner and passer. His lack of size has stirred debate due to Watson's willingness to run in the open field. Watson is young, turning 21 years old in a few weeks. Shockingly, Watson completed almost 75% of his passes through the first four games of the 2015 season, a truly remarkable statistic. He ended the season with a 70% completion percentage and a 30-11 TD-INT ratio. In addition, Watson added another 887 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. It was quite a year for Watson. Injury is the only thing standing in the way of a Top 5 selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was awesome as a Sophomore. High expectations are waiting on Watson this season.
Nick Chubb (Georgia) – Before he tore his PCL in Georgia's sixth game of the 2015 season, Chubb was included in the conversation for the top spot on this list. He has THAT level of talent. At 5'11”, 213 pounds, Chubb combines the strength to run between the tackles and enough burst to break off huge runs. Thankfully, Chubb will have a full year to recover from the knee injury so he does not need to rush back to the field. He should be able to get back to full speed sometime during the 2016 season, allowing Chubb to showcase his skills for draft evaluators. If Chubb can prove himself healthy, a first-round selection is within reach.
Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) – As the son of former NFL star receiver Ed McCaffery, the Stanford star tore up the PAC12 conference, and most other opponents, in 2015. He stands 6'2”, 212 pounds and runs a 4.48 40-yard dash. The Sophomore ran for 243 yards in a conference game against UCLA. The 243 yards broke the Stanford record of 223 yards previously held by Toby Gerhart. McCaffrey has been a workhorse, leading the Cardinal offense. Through 13 games in 2015, the Sophomore carried the ball 319 times for 1,847 yards and added another 540 more on 41 receptions. Plus, the shifty McCaffrey scored 12 times on the year. It was quite a season. He had widespread support for the Heisman Trophy but came up short. However, McCaffery was named Associated Press Player of the Year. The NFL scouts will notice his improvement as a receiver over the last half of the season. He could be a great fantasy option if landing in the right NFL offensive scheme.
Corey Davis (Western Michigan) – Even after surprisingly staying in school an extra year, Davis is still very young but a mature route-runner who understands how to give his quarterback space to throw the ball. Davis uses his big frame (6'2”, 205 pounds) to shield defenders away from the ball. The two questions Davis must answer are: Is he fast and explosive enough to create separate and were the outstanding college numbers due to playing against inferior competition? We expect Davis to positively answer both questions as a professional.
Mike Williams (Clemson) – Williams would have been listed among the top three or four players at the wide receiver position had he not had the very serious neck injury. The 6'3”, 205-pound receiver is a budding superstar. The injury forced him to stay in school another year after missing almost all of the 2015 season. Williams will want to show the scouting world that he is fully healed before coming out of college. Neck injuries for wide receivers are to be taken seriously.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC) – The youngster was impressive last season. He quickly emerged onto the national scene. In 13 games, Smith-Schuster caught 85 passes for 1,389 yards and ten touchdowns. He put up big numbers almost every week, even as the focal point of opposing defenses. The Junior turned 19 years of age last November 22. Think about that for a moment. If Smith-Schuster leaves when eligible after the 2016 campaign, he will only be 20 years old until halfway through his rookie campaign. Smith-Schuster has good size, 6'2”, 200 pounds, and runs great routes. He is able to get open with ease. This is one prospect who will continue to get better and better.
Malachi Dupre (LSU) – The Junior possesses optimal size (6'3”, 195 pounds) and makes huge plays in the air. Dupre is tall and a tremendous leaper. He will grow into a red-zone threat. Dupre is not relied upon as much as he could be due to his team having Leonard Fournette lined up in the backfield. Those who just look at box scores will be disappointed in Dupre. However, he has performed well when targeted in the passing game. Middling play from quarterback Brandon Harris has further limited Dupre's production. The Tigers also have the talented Travin Dural at receiver. Dupre is a Louisiana product who stayed home to play for LSU even though he was highly recruited. As teams load up to stop the run (Fournette and Guice), we expect Dupre's role to increase this season, and the targets to follow, especially if the quarterback play improves. In 2015, Dupre caught 39 passes for 602 yards and six scores. While the TD-to-reception percentage seems high, it was even higher a year ago as Dupre caught five touchdowns out of 14 receptions in 2014. His athleticism allows for big plays, especially in the red zone
Samaje Perine (Oklahoma) – After breaking the single-game rushing record as a Freshman, Perine entered the 2015 season with high expectations. Perine had an amazing 1,713-yard Freshman season. The 5'11”, 243-pound ball carrier saw fewer yards and fewer yards per carry average as a Sophomore. Perine is big and fast (running a 4.48 40-yard dash). It is amazing that Perine has over 3,000 rushing yards through two seasons. He will be a factor in the very deep 2017 running back NFL Draft class.
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