A Look Back
Disappointment of the Week: Keith Marshall, RB UGA; Matt Jones, RB FLA; Colt Lyerla, TE ORE
With some of the huge numbers being posted by many of the top players in collegiate football, it’s hard to identify a disappointment when watching games or perusing box scores. Instead and unfortunately, there were a pair of serious knee injuries that are true disappointments to fans and dynasty players.
First, Georgia sophomore running back Keith Marshall was taking advantage of his big opportunity for more playing time resulting from an ankle injury suffered by starter Todd Gurley. Marshall was off to a hot start last week against the Missouri Tigers, but took a tough shot to the knee and it was quickly apparent that Marshall would be out of action for a while. This was even clearer when Marshall was spotted shedding some tears on the sidelines. Marshall was later diagnosed with a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. While he should be able to return to the field for the Bulldogs in 2014, this puts the likelihood of Marshall declaring early and becoming part of the 2015 NFL draft class in doubt. As a result of this, along with the injury, Marshall’s devy value takes a big hit.
Another top young running back that is now lost for the season is Matt Jones of Florida, who tore his meniscus is last week’s game against the Tigers of Louisiana State. Jones was just starting to breakout for the Gators, including a dominant performance against Kentucky in which he gained nearly 200 total yards. Like Marshall, Jones will likely play two more seasons in Gainesville, losing some devy value, but he remains a player to track for devy and dynasty owners.
Perhaps the most disappointing news over the past two weeks is out of Oregon, where tight end Colt Lyerla, who was recently considered a first round draft prospect, decided to withdraw and leave school. There is definitely more to this story than is being revealed, but the critics have come out en masse and Lyerla’s draft stock and dynasty value are both taking huge hits. With some other tight ends enjoying breakout seasons, I would probably choose to avoid Lyerla next draft season.
On the Rise: Laquon Treadwell, WR MISS
It is often a difficult task for a true freshman to step onto a college campus and immediately play a significant role for their team, but Ole Miss true freshman Laquon Treadwell is making it look easy. Treadwell scored the first two touchdowns of his young career last week against the Texas A&M Aggies, all part of an eight catch, seventy-seven yard performance. A look only at the Rebels box scores could be deceiving as Treadwell has yet to crack the one hundred yard mark in any game, but watching the highly recruited wide receiver leaves you impressed and excited. One NFL scout was recently quoted as saying that Treadwell was the best NFL wide receiver prospect in college football. It will be a long two plus year wait for Treadwell to hit the league, so enjoy his college career while you can. While you’re at it, don’t forget top receiver prospect Donte Moncrief who is expected to be part of the upcoming draft class.
Devy of the Week: Johnny Manziel, QB TX A&M
It’s finally time to dedicate a portion of this column to one of the most polarizing players to play college football in some time; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and then proceeded to spend the off-season wining and dining, being treated and acting like he was already a professional athlete. This turned off many fans and even some NFL scouts, but once Manziel stepped back on the field, we all remembered what we love about Manziel. His non-stop hustle, his relentless playmaking and the realization that this young man is truly giving us, and more importantly his team, everything he has. Manziel’s statistics have again been impressive and the Aggies continue to win nearly every game, only falling to the Alabama Crimson Tide this year. Last week against Mississippi, Manziel threw for nearly 350 yards and rushed for another 124, including two rushing scores.
Predicting Manziel’s future in the NFL is truly a challenging task. His arm strength, maturity and size have all been questioned, yet most scouts continue to peg him as a first round prospect, at the worst. One thing is clear, the team that eventually drafts Johnny Football should be prepared for a sideshow the likes of which we’ve not seen since Tim Tebow’s time with the Broncos.
A Look Ahead
Wake Up and Watch: Texas Tech vs. West Virginia (FOX Sports 1, 12:00)
Neither of these teams is highly ranked but as one of the first games on the docket this weekend, you have a chance to check out two top prospects that could be a part of the next NFL draft.
West Virginia’s offense has struggled this year, following the loss of bog play duo Geno Smith and Tavon Austin, not to mention wide receiver Stedman Bailey, but one bright spot has been running back Charles Sims. Sims transferred in to the Mountaineers, choosing them over the NFL’s supplemental draft, but as a senior, we know he will be available to NFL teams and dynasty owners come spring. Sims has rushed for 480 yards and four scores this season as the team’s primary offensive weapon. He has also shown he can catch the ball out of the backfield, hauling in nineteen passes.
For the Red Raiders, their leading NFL draft prospect is one you should get to know quickly. Tight end Jace Amaro has burst onto the scene this year and leads the team in catches and receiving yards. He has the size and speed combination to be a perfect move tight end in the league. The somewhat disappointing thing about Amaro is that we might have to wait one more year. Despite being a junior, Amaro said recently that he would return for his senior season, rather than declaring for the NFL draft. There’s always a chance he could change his mind and his status as one of the top three tight ends in the draft could be enough to sway him.
If You Can Only Watch One: Clemson vs. Florida State (ABC, 8:00)
Each of these teams has been talked about in great detail in this article and any other NFL draft preview you might have read. Both ACC powers feature multiple draft prospects both for the upcoming season, as well as future years. Both teams are now ranked in the top five and enter the game without a blemish on their records. The winner will be squarely in the BCS title hunt, so the pressure will be on. It will be an excellent opportunity for dynasty owners to get a glimpse at how these high profile players perform when the spotlight is on.
Among the top players in the game to focus on are Clemson quarterback Tahj Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Both have a chance to be highly drafted in the upcoming NFL draft and Watkins is considered the current favorite to be the 1.01 rookie pick in most dynasty drafts.
One other Tiger to watch is running back Roderick McDowell. McDowell, a senior, has always been in a timeshare at Clemson prior to this year, but with Andre Ellington off to the Arizona Cardinals, McDowell has been the primary running back. He’s nearing 400 rushing yards, though he has yet to find the end zone this season. McDowell is often overlooked due to the impressive running ability of Boyd, but he has a good chance to be drafted and could compete for a spot on an NFL roster.
On the Seminoles side of the ball, the story of the year has been freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston entered the season with much hype and has lived up to, or even exceeded it all. Not only has Winston led his team to an undefeated record to this point in the season, he’s thrown for over 1,400 yards along the way and an extraordinary seventeen to two touchdown to interception ratio. Winston has himself in the running for a Heisman Trophy and his team in BCS contention. Since he’s a redshirt sophomore, we only have to wait one more season following this year for him to make the splash in the NFL and he’s already the leading candidate to be the top overall selection in the 2015 NFL draft.
Along with Winston, the Seminoles feature a pair of solid running backs who have been mentioned here before. Continue to watch how the carries are shared amongst Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. Both players should be drafted in the spring and it seems everyone has their personal favorite. I like Wilder’s skills slightly better, but Freeman has been the more explosive runner this year and leads the team in rushing yards and carries.
Stay Up Late For: Utah vs. Arizona (Pac 12 Network, 10:00)
Utah is coming off the most shocking win of last week when they upset the Cardinal of Stanford. Playing a key role in that win is the Utes top receiver Dres Anderson. Anderson is a speedy wide receiver who has totaled twenty-eight catches for 592 yards and five scores. He leads the team in each of these categories. Another pass catcher who has gone under the radar but could be a draft prospect come spring is tight end Jake Murphy. Murphy can use his big frame to block, but also has the speed to play the move tight end role that is so popular in today’s NFL.
The Wildcats of Arizona have one primary player all dynasty owners should be watching and he’s one that has a great chance to end up as a first round rookie pick in dynasty leagues next spring. Running back Ka’Deem Carey leads the team in rushing with 569 yards and five touchdowns. Although he had some off the field trouble during the off-season, that has been cleared up and Carey is back to being the workhorse back for Arizona. He has racked up the carries during his three-year college career, enough so that he led the nation in rushing last season as a sophomore. In what is considered a shallow running back class, Carey could be one of the first backs off the board.
Devy Stock Watch
This week, we’re back to a list of the top ten devy players, but look for an expanded list in coming weeks. The first year each player is NFL draft eligible is noted in parentheses. I’ve also included how the player fared in last week’s action.
1.) Todd Gurley, RB UGA (2015) Missed game due to injury
2.) Sammy Watkins, WR CLEM (2014) 101 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
3.) TJ Yeldon, RB ALA (2015) 124 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns
4.) Melvin Gordon, RB WISC (2014) 74 rush yards
5.) Marqise Lee, WR USC (2014) Missed game due to injury
6.) Teddy Bridgewater, QB UL (2014) 310 passing yards, 2 touchdowns
7.) Lache Seastrunk, RB BAY (2014) 59 rushing yards
8.) Jameis Winston, QB FSU (2015) Bye
9.) Amari Cooper, WR ALA (2015) 64 receiving yards
10.) Marcus Mariota, QB OREG (2014) 366 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 88 rushing yards, 1 touchdown
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