Who’s #1? It’s a question asked in all aspects of life, from local restaurants to schools to a number of aspects of the sports world. In this article, three DLF writers will weigh-in on the question of who is the #1 devy player in dynasty fantasy football leagues. The 2017 class was touted through all of the off-season as one of the best rookie classes ever, but the question is: who should be the 1.01 in 2017 rookie drafts? Who should be valued as the top asset in devy leagues?
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Mike Valverde – Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
2016 rushing stats so far: 83 attempts, 670 yards, five touchdowns
If I asked you for a list of important attributes for a running back, the reply would probably be: “Size, speed, power, durability, balance, vision, and versatility.” I would nod in agreement, then we would think of someone with all those characteristics. Looking into the college ranks, there is one who stands up above all the rest, and that is Leonard Fournette. In tangible terms, Fournette is a Mack truck with moves of a Kawasaki Ninja.
Fournette (6’1” 230 DOB: 1/18/95) was highly coveted out of high school and was given five-star recruit status, finally deciding on LSU. In his freshman season he played in all 13 games while starting six. He rushed for 1,034 yards and ten touchdowns. His sophomore season was even better as he finished with 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns – both LSU single-season records. In just two short years Fournette has rush for 2,987 yards and 32 touchdowns on just 487 carries. To really get a feel of how these three stack up and why I pick Fournette at number one, let’s take a look at those comparisons. Pulled from Nick Whalen’s Devy Report in preseason:
“Matching-up Fournette against Dalvin Cook (5’11” 203 DOB: 8/1/95) and Nick Chubb (5’10” 220 DOB:12/27/95) you will find that he is more sufficient in almost all areas of the game. In combining both seasons, you will notice that Fournette has outrushed both Cook and Chubb. Critics can say that Chubb has unfair advantage as he was injured last season, and played under Todd Gurley in 2013. I just don’t trust a running back coming off an injury and may be at risk to start the season to outperform the specimen that is Fournette. Even if he does return healthy, do you draft a running back with no injury history and built like a Mack truck, or someone with ligament damage and is compacted like a Honda Civic?”
Rob Leath – Nick Chubb, RB Georgia
2016 rushing stats so far: 125 attempts, 606 yards, five touchdowns
I understand the reticence around making Nick Chubb the top player in your devy rankings. He was coming off a major and somewhat mysterious knee injury, and he’s a running back; we’re not supposed to like anyone who plays his position. I’m undeterred by these facts as I see Chubb as a premier talent a cut above the rest. The term “generational talent” gets thrown around far too cavalierly, but I see Chubb as one of the better running back prospects in recent memory. With brutish strength and supreme athleticism, he’s been physically ready to step onto a NFL field since his freshman season. But he’s more than just athlete; he’s got nuance to his game and we have seen him contribute in the passing game. From a skill-set perspective, I have no doubts about Chubb. He’s a SPARQ freak with dominant production and he passes the eyeball test.
We’ve heard much about the 2017 class. The notion of hoarding 2017 picks is less original than a Melania Trump speech. While running back is deep, I feel Chubb stands out as the best in the class. He’s got the perfect confluence of skills and production and barring a major setback in his recovery I do not see my opinion changing. I cannot say I see the same separation between the triumvirate of Juju Smith-Schuster/Mike Williams/Corey Davis, which tilts the field in Chubb’s favor. I understand there are question marks attached to him, but this is devy fantasy football, nobody is remotely close to bulletproof. I can’t say I pick Chubb sans any regret but when push comes to shove he is my main at the top of devy drafts.
Nathan Powell – Dalvin Cook, RB FSU
2016 rushing stats so far: 178 attempts, 1069 yards, 11 touchdowns
Now that two people way smarter than me have given their takes on who should be the top devy asset, I will now state my case for Florida State Running Back Dalvin Cook. Cook entered college football as the third best recruit in the state of Florida, and ranked as the second overall running back in the nation in his class. The main negative on the Dalvin Cook profile is his trouble off the field last off-season when he was arrested for battery and was later found not guilty. On the field, Dalvin Cook has been one of the best backs in college football from the day he stepped on the Florida State campus. As a freshman, Cook had a solid season, rushing for 1009 yards, good for a 5.9 yards per carry and eight touchdowns. In Cook’s sophomore season, he broke out in a big way, running for 1691 yards while averaging 7.4 yards per carry and reaching the end zone 20 times.
Digging into some of the more advanced stats, Cook led the nation’s top runners with percentage of 20+ yards runs, gaining 20 yards or more on 10.43% of his rushes, which nearly doubles Leonard Fournette (5.54%) and more than doubles fellow sophomore Christian McCaffrey (4.18%). Cook was nearly the entire Seminoles rushing offense, finishing second in the nation among top backs with 76.37% of the FSU rushing offense and 41.30% of their total touchdowns in 2015 (hat tip to Rotoworld’s Josh Norris for these stats).In addition to his running acumen, Cook has also had success in the receiving game, catching 46 passes for 447 receiving yards in two college seasons, good for an average of 9.72 yards per catch.
Cook isn’t as big as Chubb or Fournette, but his breakaway speed to go with his elusiveness is what makes him a more attractive prospect than his bigger counterparts. In conclusion, Cook may have off-field risks that the two players above do not, but his consistent big play ability in the running game more than make up for that risk and make him the most valuable devy player.