Developing Assets: Week Two

Austan Kas


We’re back with the second installment of Developing Assets.

In this series, we take a look at future NFL players with a focus on the offensive skill positions to help those of you in developmental (devy) leagues. For those in regular dynasty formats, we’ll give you all the information you need to help you start the preparation for 2016 rookie drafts.

We have in-depth rankings for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 classes, which we update throughout the season. We also have a breakdown on what the heck a devy league is, in case it’s foreign to you.

This week brings us a lot of the typical David versus Goliath non-conference games, but we do have a couple enticing evening games, including a Michigan State-Oregon showdown.


Wake Up and Watch: South Florida at No. 11 Florida State (ESPN, 11:30)

Florida State is loaded. The Seminoles boast a whopping seven players in our devy rankings, including three of the top 2017 draft-eligible players in Dalvin Cook, Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane.

Cook, our No. 4 running back for the class of 2017, is the Seminoles’ top prospect. A sophomore, Cook exploded onto the scene a year ago, racking up 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns on 170 carries. He added 22 grabs for 203 receiving yards. In Florida State’s Week 1 thrashing of Texas State, Cook totaled 156 yards and two scores on 19 carries.

Receiver Rudolph and Lane — who rank seventh and eighth, respectively, among the 2017 wideouts — are coming off solid freshman campaigns. Rudolph caught 38 passes for 555 yards and four touchdowns a year ago. Lane, in less playing time, had 13 catches for 267 yards and one score.

Those two, along with wideout Jesus Wilson, will give new Seminole quarterback Everett Golson three stellar targets. Golson, our No. 13 signal caller in the 2016 class, had a sparkling debut last week, completing 19-of-25 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

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As if Florida State didn’t have enough talent at the receiver position, the Seminoles also have two of our top-ranked freshmen wideouts in Auden Tate (2018 No. 12) and George Campbell (2018 No. 16). Campbell hauled in three balls for 42 yards in the opener. Fellow freshman Jacques Patrick, our No. 4 running back for 2018, carried the rock three times for 13 yards in limited action against Texas State.

Golson will get the headlines and certainly has the better supporting cast, but he may not be the most talented quarterback on the field in this one. South Florida’s Asiantii Woulard is our No. 15 quarterback in the 2016 class. Woulard was a four-star UCLA recruit in the 2013 high school class. He transferred this offseason to South Florida, which is where he originally committed way back in 2012.

Other teams in action around the noon hour, along with some players to focus on, include:

  • Jacksonville State at No. 6 Auburn (Roc Thomas, Jeremy Johnson, D’haquille Williams, Jovon Robinson, Kerryon Johnson), SECN, 12:00
  • Miami, Ohio at Wisconsin (Corey Clement), ESPNU, 12:00
  • Appalachian State at No. 12 Clemson (Deshaun Watson, Deon Cain, Artavis Scott), ESPN3, 12:30

Midday Marquee: No. 19 Oklahoma at No. 23 Tennessee (ESPN, 6:00)

Oyay, I cheated a little bit. A 6 p.m. game isn’t exactly a midday contest, but I wanted to do justice to both of the day’s big-time matchups. Plus, I believe in your ability to handle the remote like the five-star prospect you are.

Vols’ Head Coach Butch Jones has put together back-to-back top-five recruiting classes, and his squad is stockpiled with young NFL prospects.

Pulling the strings for the Volunteers is 2016’s No. 10 quarterback Joshua Dobbs. In their season-opening win over Bowling Green, Dobbs completed 15-of-22 through the air for 205 yards and two touchdowns. He added 89 rushing yards and another score on the ground.

Tennessee has one of the best running back tandems in the nation with Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd. Kamara is a redshirt sophomore and the No. 14 running back in the 2016 class. Hurd, a true sophomore, is the No. 6 back in the 2017 class. Both blew up against Bowling Green. Hurd totaled 123 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries while Kamara had 144 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Tennessee has a pair of ranked prospects at receiver in Josh Malone and Marquez North. Malone, a sophomore and the No. 6 wideout in the 2017 class, had three catches for 40 yards in the first week. North, the No. 16 receiver in the 2016 class, suffered a minor knee injury in late August and is being eased back into the fold. The 6-foot-3, 229-pound junior played against Bowling Green but was held without a catch.

True freshman Jauan Jennings was a four-star recruit as a dual-threat quarterback, but Jones is utilizing him elsewhere. Jennings played receiver against Bowling Green and had three grabs for 56 yards in his college debut. Preston Williams, 2018’s No. 5 receiver and also a four-star recruit, did not play in the opener.

This game is one of the few Tennessee will have all year where the Vols don’t have the most talent at running back. That’s because Oklahoma has Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, both of whom rank inside the top seven in our 2017 running back rankings.

Perine, a sophomore, was quiet (11 carries, 33 yards) in the Sooners’ opening-week blowout victory over Akron. As a freshman in 2014, Perine had 1,713 yards on 267 carries (6.5 average) with an eye-popping 21 touchdowns.

Mixon was not quiet. The 6-foot-2, 217-pounder was the top-ranked running back in the 2014 high school class, according to Rivals, and he electrified in his Oklahoma debut. Mixon had just five carries for 27 yards on the ground, but he hauled in three passes for 115 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown.

Sophomore wideout Michiah Quick, 2017’s No. 14 receiver, is expected to play against Tennessee. Quick, who was recruited as a four-star athlete, didn’t suit up for the Akron game for an undisclosed reason.

Other teams in midday action, along with some players to watch, include:

  • No. 9 Notre Dame (Will Fuller, Corey Robinson) at Virginia, ABC, 3:30
  • Hawaii at No. 1 Ohio State (Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett, Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller), BTN, 3:30
  • Fresno State at No. 17 Mississippi (Laquon Treadwell, Evan Engram, Markell Pack, DaMarkus Lodge), ESPN2, 3:30

Primetime Play: No. 7 Oregon at No. 5 Michigan State (ABC, 8:00)

On paper, this is the best matchup of the year thus far, as Oregon travels to Michigan State for the season’s first clash of top 10 teams.

Michigan State and Oregon are about as dissimilar as two college football powers can be, which makes this a really fun matchup. The Spartans rely on stout defense and steady offense while the Ducks crush teams with a fast-paced, big-play offense. The game in Eugene last season was a tight battle into the third quarter before Marcus Mariota led the Ducks to 28 unanswered points in a 46-27 win.

Michigan State has a pair of big-time NFL prospects on defense with strong safety D.J. Williamson and defensive end Shilique Calhoun, both of whom are consensus top 10 players at their positions on 2016 draft boards. They’ll present a tough hurdle for the Ducks, but Oregon’s offense is overflowing with NFL talent.

Running back Royce Freeman leads the way. Our No. 3 back for 2017, Freeman erupted for 180 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon’s season-opening 61-42 win over Eastern Washington. Taj Griffin, a backfield mate and true freshman, had three carries for 60 yards in his Oregon debut. Griffin was the top-ranked all-purpose running back in the 2015 high school class, according to Rivals. Thomas Tyner, our No. 12 back for 2016 who also plays receiver, is out for the year with a shoulder injury.

At receiver, Byron Marshall is our No. 22 wideout for the 2016 class. He made four catches for 69 yards and a score in the opener. Marshall is an intriguing athlete. He played running back as a sophomore and has a 1,000-yard season under his belt. Then, a year ago, he moved out to receiver and logged a 1,000-yard season as a wideout.

Kirk Merritt, a true freshman and a four-star recruit as an athlete, is playing receiver, but Oregon may utilize him in a variety of ways. We have him as our No. 6 wideout for 2018. He played against Eastern Washington but did not record a reception.

Oregon has a pair of elite tight ends at its disposal in Pharaoh Brown and Johnny Mundt. Brown, 2016’s No. 6 tight end, is coming off a knee injury he suffered last year and did not suit up for the season opener. His status for this matchup is up in the air. Mundt, ranked one spot behind Brown, made two grabs for 12 yards against Eastern Washington.

Michigan State’s calling card is defense, but the Spartans also have two high-caliber NFL prospects on offense.

Fifth-year senior Connor Cook is in the mix to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board. Our No. 7 signal caller for the 2016 class, Cook went 15-for-31 for 256 yards and two scores as Michigan State picked up a road win at Western Michigan in the first week.

True freshman running back Larry Scott (or L.J. Scott) had a solid college debut against the Broncos. Scott, our No. 6 running back for 2018, finished with 77 yards on 13 carries. Scott was a highly-coveted four-star recruit.

Other teams with evening games, along with some players to focus on, include:

  • No. 14 LSU (Jacory Washington, Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn, Leonard Fournette) at No. 25 Mississippi State (De’Runnya Wilson, Dak Prescott), ESPN, 9:15
  • No. 13 UCLA (Paul Perkins, Josh Rosen, Soso Jamabo, Chris Clark) at UNLV, CBSS, 10:30