Fantasy football is an inexact science. Numerous factors can conspire to make even the surest of things an uber-bust (looking at you, Trent Richardson). Take this one level down to the college ranks, and you’re really engaging in a mostly futile exercise which involves interpreting how college talent translates to the NFL. This leads to an incredibly high bust rate and immortalizes individuals like Jamie Harper in the Hall of Disappointment.
This is the third annual installment of The Devy 100, an endeavor which embraces the Sisyphus-esque journey known as a devy league. Rather than a standard, mundane numbered list, this breaks 100 players into tiers. As an ode to recruiting rankings, they’ve been assigned a star ranking. A brief description of each star ranking and how I perceive them below:
- Five Star: The elite. They look poised to become high NFL draft picks and have the skills to become annual fantasy contributors.
- Four Star: These are potentially elite players. They just have one flaw – be it inexperience, modest physical tools, or limited production – which prevents them from joining the top tier.
- Three Star: These are individuals I would not be actively pursuing in standard, smaller devy leagues. However, in larger leagues they merit a roster spot and at the least they’re someone worth monitoring.
There are, of course, players who don’t fit any of these criteria but we’re not talking about them in an article. We continue with three star players at wide receiver, part one.
Demetris Robertson, WR Undecided
Demetris Robertson is still undecided as he pushed his decision past signing day to determine if he could gain academic admission to Stanford. While his destination is still murky, I tend to be higher on Robertson than most. He’s got a body which flows like a lava lamp, allowing him to disengage from defenders at the line of scrimmage and wildly gesticulate in the air to make tough catches. Despite standing at only 6-foot-0, he has a wide wingspan which helps him play bigger than he actually is. There are certainly some warts – such as inconsistent hands and a slender frame – but Robertson has immense upside as a playmaker at the collegiate level. While most project him to play wide receiver, cornerback could still be in his future.
KD Cannon, WR Baylor Bears
There’s a play in old Madden games called All Streaks, and it suits the skills of KD Cannon well. Baylor’s resident deep threat, Cannon has been mostly a vertical weapon for the Bears in his first two seasons. He’s got excellent long speed and tracks the ball exceptionally well. He’s got a slight build and has not yet added much nuance to his game; however, he should appeal to NFL teams as a pure deep threat and there have been flashes he can do a lot more if given the opportunity.
Artavis Scott, WR Clemson Tigers
Artavis Scott has a very distinct role in the Clemson offense. He’s used frequently near the line of scrimmage; screens and gadget plays are the fortes of his repertoire. He can accelerate quickly with the football in his hands, yet I question his overall level of explosiveness. I don’t see him possessing traits which are difficult to find in each and every draft, which is why I am lower on him than the consensus (19th overall per February ADP).
Miles Boykin, WR Notre Dame Fighting Irish
There’s an inclination to move every jumbo receiver recruit to tight end during their college career, yet often these players stick as a receiver and torment their competition with size and physicality. Miles Boykin and his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame have mammoth potential as a pass catcher who just bullies his opponent without remorse while still possessing the movement skills necessary to be a complete player. It is part of what has led Boykin’s value to remain steady despite redshirting in 2015. The Irish lose top receiver Will Fuller, and while the depth chart is crowded, there’s no obvious number one target, leaving Boykin has a dark horse to assume the crown.
T.J. Rahming, WR Duke Blue Devils
Quietly one of the nation’s best young playmakers, T.J. Rahming is an explosive athlete who despite a small frame has enticing upside thanks to his fearlessness and savvy in the intermediate game. He will draw natural comparisons to former Blue Devil Jamison Crowder, yet Rahming has extra gears and is more advanced at a young age. Though he does not check many boxes from a physical stature standpoint, he’s still a prospect to eyeball over the next few seasons.
Robert Foster, WR Alabama Crimson Tide
We were on the cusp of the long awaited Robert Foster breakout before a shoulder injury wiped out his 2015 season shortly after it began. Foster started the season as the Tide’s number one receiver and did not disappoint, piling up 116 yards and two touchdowns in two plus games. Despite a solid 6-foot-2, 194-pound frame, Foster was dynamic after the catch, doing damage with explosive acceleration and change of direction skills most often seen in smaller players. The sample size is small yet encouraging, and even if the numbers remain modest as the Tide feature Calvin Ridley, O.J. Howard, and Ardarius Stewart, the talent is evident.
Ishmael Zamora, WR Baylor Bears
It is not easy to ascend the Baylor Bears depth chart at receiver, which has led to only nine career receptions across two seasons for Ishmael Zamora. However, opportunity is finally available with Corey Coleman and Jay Lee moving on and Zamora appears poised to assume a starting role in 2016. Tall with a powerful game, he’s one of college football’s most logical breakout candidates given Baylor’s proclivity for gaudy passing numbers.
Jauan Jennings, WR Tennessee Volunteers
If you’re going to die on any hill, it is unwise to do so on one including Volunteer wide receivers. The terrain is littered with the carcasses of those who put their trust in a Tennessee pass catcher. Despite this, we continue to go to the well thanks to the raw talent they flash for small stretches during their collegiate career. A high school quarterback, Jauan Jennings adapted well to his new position as a true freshman, hauling in 14 passes for 149 yards despite a crowded depth chart and zero experience at the position. He’s all upside at this point, yet it is upside worth gambling on.
Cooper Kupp, WR Eastern Washington Eagles
Cooper Kupp is your classic lunch-pail receiver. He’s a gritty, hard working, high-character athlete with a blue collar work ethic. Despite limited athleticism, he wins due to a high football IQ and the will to get better every single day. You could compare him to Julian Edelman, Cole Beasley, or Riley Cooper. He’s really got an Eric Decker flair to his game thanks to his commitment to football.
Tyron Johnson, WR LSU Tigers
Tyron Johnson posted modest numbers during his freshman season, yet modest numbers are the expectation given LSU receivers are best served playing with stick’em attached to their shoes. Johnson was not my cup of tea out of high school, as he was a bigger receiver who tended to play small, opting to beat his man after the catch as opposed to before it. However, he looked improved in this area as a true freshman, and though the depth chart in front of him is crowded for 2016 he looks poised to become one of the leaders in the Tigers’ passing game hierarchy.