Devy 100: Three Star Wide Receivers (Part Two)

Rob Willette

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 two.

Jehu Chesson, WR Michigan Wolverines

I’m always intrigued by players like Jehu Chesson. He was a mere afterthought within the Wolverines offense before exploding for 764 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior, including a monster finish which included a four-touchdown outburst against Indiana and 100-yard efforts against Ohio State and Florida. It is fair to wonder where Chesson has been during his career. Is he just a late bloomer, or were there physical limitations which prevented him from producing until he had experience on his side? It is a fair question, yet difficult to discern given player development was not exactly a hallmark of Brady Hoke’s tenure. Look at his 2015 season individually and there is a lot to like. He may be a bit of a misfit as he is not supersized nor does he have standout athleticism; however, he is fearless and really looked confident late in the season. If he can build upon a breakout campaign, he’s a contributor at the NFL level.

Lawrence Cager, WR Miami Hurricanes

Big receivers with movement skills are always a creature which whets the imagination palate. Big receivers with movement skills who blossomed late in their high school careers? Sign me up. As I view this as a sign they were getting comfortable with their frame at a young age and are on the plus side of their development curve. Lawrence Cager checks all those boxes and more; he’s a hulking receiver with strong hands and if you told him to go play in traffic he’d probably come out of the mix holding a football. A 2016 breakout looks to be on the horizon.

Blake Lynch, WR Baylor Bears

I’m always surprised Blake Lynch did not get more pub during the recruiting phase. A high school quarterback, the physical tools are evident in spades; Lynch can glide past defenders despite a 6-foot-4, 212-pound frame. He checks all the boxes physically and has an outstanding opportunity to earn playing time in 2016 with both Corey Coleman and Jay Lee moving on. This far down the list, it is about all you can ask for.

Keevan Lucas, WR Tulsa Golden Hurricanes

A college DFS favorite for several seasons, Keevan Lucas is also a legitimate prospect. Despite a 5-foot-10 frame, he is compact and is not afraid to play a big man’s game. He’s also rather no-nonsense after the catch; he turns up the field in a hurry and wastes little time on flashy, yet often pointless, lateral activity. It is possible Lucas is everything we’re trying to make Justin Hardy be.

Fred Ross, WR Mississippi State Bulldogs

Fred Ross was an offensive linchpin for the Bulldogs in 2015. He was used in virtually every capacity you can imagine and turned in a 1,000-yard season, actually besting the more heralded De’Runnya Wilson in both receptions and yards. He’s got a strong frame and possesses amazing flexion in his extremities; circus catches are no stranger to Ross. He’s still yet 21 (in May) and fresh off his breakout campaign. He belongs entrenched in the devy consciousness.

Travis Rudolph, WR Florida State Seminoles

Despite very good production, Travis Rudolph leaves you wanting a bit more. He occasionally looks as though he’s participating in the Wing-T offense his high school team ran during his junior year. He can be a sleepy football player before the catch before luring you in with his strong hands and open field ability. Despite a solid frame and the tools to be a technician, at this point he is a RAC player who is good yet not dynamic after the catch, making him merely a curiosity as I indulge in college football.

Shelton Gibson, WR West Virginia Mountaineers

A big-play dynamo for the Mountaineers in 2015, Shelton Gibson has continued West Virginia’s tradition of having diminutive receivers who pile up video game numbers. Gibson is built more like Stedman Bailey yet possesses the short area quickness of Tavon Austin. He’s an exciting player who could emerge as a top prospect in 2017.

Dorian Baker, WR Kentucky Wildcats

Active motor is seldom a description attached to wide receivers, yet it aptly describes Kentucky’s Dorian Baker. He’s a high energy player who’s fearless at the catch point and aggressive in the blocking game as well as in his routes. He also uses it to box out defenders and out-muscle them in contested situations. A smooth athlete with excellent size and big play ability, Baker’s of definite intrigue.

Devin Duvernay, WR Baylor Bears

Devin Duvernay is a fantastic athlete. He has easy speed, the type of speed which makes him look as though he is not even trying as he cruises past defenders. Baylor’s known for lining receivers up and just having them embarrass defense’s athletically; Duvernay is a natural fit. He’s drawn natural comparisons to Corey Coleman, though he is going to have to develop a nasty disposition if he is going to develop into the same type of player.

Josh Malone, WR Tennessee Volunteers

Will we ever see all Josh Malone has to offer? Odds seem to decrease with every day, and the Volunteers seem to be a program intent on following its one step forward with two steps back. One thing Malone still has going for him is supreme athleticism, and it is evident every time he touches the football. He’s just an easy athlete with effortless acceleration and his size and body type make him difficult to take down in the open field. Physically, there are few receivers in the nation who can approach his combination of tools. It is difficult to tell if there’s just some intangible quality missing with Malone to date, or if circumstances in Knoxville have conspired to prevent his breakout campaign.

rob willette
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