This week doesn’t quite match up with last week in terms of Top 25 clashes, but we get to see California quarterback Jared Goff, our top-ranked devy quarterback for the upcoming draft class, go up against red-hot Utah in a primetime showdown.
As a reminder, in this series, we take a look at NFL prospects with a focus on the offensive skill positions to help those of you in developmental (devy) leagues. We’ll give you several games to watch, along with some key devy players who will be in action. For those in regular dynasty formats, this gives you a chance to start checking out some of the players who will be available in 2016 (and beyond) rookie drafts.
We have in-depth rankings for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 classes, which are updated throughout the season. We also have a breakdown on what the heck a devy league is, in case it’s foreign to you.
Wake Up and Watch: South Carolina at No. 7 LSU (ESPN, 12:00)
In some ways, Leonard Fournette almost flew under the radar a little bit last season. A much-hyped recruit out of Louisiana, Fournette was expected to run roughshod over the SEC as a freshman. When he started slowly and “only” rushed for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns, it merely met expectations.
In four games this season, Fournette has 864 yards and 11 scores, nearly surpassing his impressive freshman campaign already, and it’s generating plenty of buzz. He’s become must-watch television for the way he runs around and through defenders.
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Maybe the most impressive thing about Fournette’s monster start is, he’s doing it without any semblance of a passing game. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris is averaging less than 10 completions and 100 yards passing per game. It’s not for a lack of talent at wideout, either. Travin Dural, Trey Quinn and Malachi Dupre are all featured in our devy rankings and give LSU one of the most talented receiving corps in the nation.
Dupre, our No. 2 wideout in the 2017 class, has eight grabs for 122 yards and a touchdown. Dural has caught 10 passes for 120 yards. We rank him as the No. 16 wide receiver in the 2016 class. Quinn has just one catch for 14 yards and is the No. 16 receiver in the 2017 class.
Freshman running back Derrius Guice, currently third on LSU’s depth chart, has rushed 13 times for 102 yards. Rivals ranked Guice as the No. 2 running back in the 2015 high school class. He’ll have to wait his turn in Baton Rouge.
South Carolina is led by receiver Pharoh Cooper, who we rank sixth among the 2016 wideouts. He’s made 26 grabs for 322 yards and two touchdowns. A year ago, Cooper finished with 1,136 yards and nine scores. Brandon Wilds (181 yards), Shon Carson (158) and David Williams (154) are splitting backfield duties for the Gamecocks.
Other teams in action around the noon hour, along with some players to focus on, include:
- No. 3 Baylor (K.D. Cannon, Seth Russell, Davion Hall, Corey Coleman, Ishmael Zamora) at Kansas, FS1, 12:00
- Maryland at No. 1 Ohio State (Cardale Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett, Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller), BTN, 12:00
- New Mexico State at No. 14 Mississippi (Evan Engram, Laquon Treadwell, Markell Pack, DaMarkus Lodge), SECN, 12:00
- No. 10 Oklahoma (Sterling Shepard, Joe Mixon, Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine, Michiah Quick) vs. Texas (Johnathan Gray), ABC, 12:00
Midday Marquee: No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee (CBS, 3:30)
Both teams are entering with their tail between their legs, but each boasts a plethora of talent. Tennessee, a dark horse contender for the SEC East crown coming into this season, is fresh off losses to Florida and Arkansas while Georgia was shellacked by Alabama last week.
Bulldogs’ sophomore Nick Chubb is our No. 1 devy running back. Through five games, Chubb has 91 carries for 745 yards and seven scores. In the blowout loss to Alabama, Chubb rushed for 146 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown. Last season, in just seven starts in place of an injured Todd Gurley, Chubb exploded for 1,760 total yards and 16 touchdowns.
Sony Michel, our No. 17 running back for 2017, had nine carries for 53 yards against the Crimson Tide. For the season, Michel has 276 yards and four touchdowns on 41 attempts. Keith Marshall, the No. 22 running back for 2016, has missed most of the past two seasons due to injuries. He has been a complimentary piece for Georgia, rushing for 131 yards on 23 attempts.
With the way Tennessee Head Coach Butch Jones has recruited, landing back-to-back top-five classes, Tennessee’s time is coming, but the Vols have been a disappointment thus far.
Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd give Tennessee one of the best one-two backfield punches in the country. Kamara, the No. 14 running back in the 2016 class, has 38 carries for 237 yards and three scores. Hurd is the No. 6 back in the 2017 class. He’s leading the Volunteers in rushing with 492 yards and seven touchdowns on 105 attempts.
The No. 10 quarterback for 2016, Joshua Dobbs has struggled throwing the ball this season, completing just 57 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and one interception. He has, however, displayed his athleticism on the ground, running for 250 yards and three touchdowns, including a season-long run of 62 yards.
Vols’ receivers Josh Malone and Marquez North are both ranked devy prospects. Malone, the No. 6 wideout in the 2017 class, has just 12 catches for 109 yards in five games. North, the No. 16 receiver in the 2016 class, has NFL size at 6’3”, 229 pounds. He’s been hampered by injuries over the past two seasons, including missing the last two games. Tennessee is hoping to have him back for this one.
Freshman Jauan Jennings was a Rivals’ four-star recruit as a dual-threat quarterback, but Jones is utilizing him all over the field. Jennings has 87 receiving yards and 16 rushing yards in a Percy Harvin-type role. Preston Williams, 2018’s No. 5 receiver and also a four-star recruit, has been hit-or-miss this season. He has five grabs for 117 yards and two scores but has failed to catch a pass in three games.
Other teams in midday action, along with some players to watch, include:
- Georgia Tech at No. 6 Clemson (Deshaun Watson, Artavis Scott, Deon Cain), ABC, 3:30
- Navy at No. 15 Notre Dame (Will Fuller, C.J. Prosise, Corey Robinson, Torii Hunter Jr.), NBC, 3:30
- Oregon State (Jordan Villamin) at Arizona (Nick Wilson), FS1, 4:00
Primetime Play: No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah (ESPN, 10:00)
I stretched the meaning of primetime to get this game in here, but it should be worth the wait.
Utah is as hot any team in the country, notching a 62-20 win at Oregon its last time out. The Utes’ top devy prospect is running back Devontae Booker, our No. 8 back for 2016. Last year as a junior, the 5’11”, 212-pound Booker rushed for 1,512 yards and 10 scores on 292 carries. He has 443 yards and four scores on 106 attempts this season. He’s also a weapon as a receiver, hauling in 15 passes for 149 yards after makes 43 grabs a year ago.
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson, who is 6’7” and 233 pounds, has improved his draft stock with an outstanding start to the year. He’s completing 68 percent of his throws for 513 yards and four scores. Despite his size, he’s extremely mobile, adding 200 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
California features Goff, who is a surefire first-round selection and may be the first player off the board. He’s in competition with Michigan State’s Connor Cook to be the first quarterback taken. At 6’4”, 215 pounds, Goff has ideal size. The junior signal caller is completing 70 percent of his passes (125-of-178) for 15 touchdowns and four picks through five games. Four different Cal wideouts have at least 15 catches.
Kenny Lawler, a 6’3” junior, is the Golden Bears’ top target. He’s made 27 grabs for 399 yards and an eye-popping eight touchdowns. He reminds me a little of TCU’s Josh Doctson, although not quite as jump-off-the-screen athletic. With superb hands, Lawler excels at making contested catches, and he and Goff have great chemistry on back-shoulder throws.
Running back Vic Enwere, a sophomore, has rushed for 257 yards and five scores. Backfield mate Khalfani Muhammad has 350 yards and one score, which was a 74-yard scamper. Muhammad, who is just 5’9”, 170 pounds, catches the ball well, too, hauling in seven passes for 64 yards.
Other teams with evening games, along with some players to focus on, include:
- Arkansas (Hunter Henry, Alex Collins) at No. 8 Alabama (ArDarius Stewart, Robert Foster, Damien Harris, Calvin Ridley, Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake), ESPN, 7:00
- No. 2 TCU (Josh Doctson, Trevone Boykin, Aaron Green) at Kansas State, FOX, 7:30
- No. 11 Florida (Demarcus Robinson, Kelvin Taylor) at Missouri (Nate Brown), SECN, 7:30
- Miami (Joseph Yearby, Brad Kaaya, Stacy Coley)i at No. 12 Florida State (Dalvin Cook, Travis Rudolph, Jesus Wilson, Everett Golson, Ermon Lane, Auden Tate, George Campbell, Jacques Patrick), ABC , 8:00
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