Making a List – Will They Stay or Will They Go?

Ryan McDowell

I’m a list guy. I make “to do” lists, follow “honey do” lists, and will take time to read a top ten list of almost anything. This series of articles will bring you a top five ranking about a myriad of topics in the world of dynasty football.

Dynasty fantasy football players are a greedy bunch. The class of 2017 has been the focal point for many dynasty owners for the past year or more with the expectation that many college stars would make a smooth transition into the NFL and onto our dynasty teams. We’ve already seen many collegiate underclassmen make their intentions known. The vaunted class of 2017 will include juniors such as Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette, among many others. On the other hand, underclassmen such as Nick Chubb, Royce Freeman and James Washington surprisingly opted to return to campus for one more season.

With the January 16 deadline for underclassmen to declare quickly approaching, I’ve got my eye on five players who have yet to announce their plans for next season.

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1)    Mitch Trubisky, QB North Carolina

After serving as the backup to dual-threat quarterback Marquise Williams the prior two seasons in Chapel Hill, quarterback Mitch Trubisky enjoyed a breakout 2016 season that saw him bolt from relative unknown to being a strong contender to be the top signal caller off the board…or maybe even the top player overall in today’s quarterback starved NFL.

Trubisky, a 6’3”, 220 pounder is said to have all the tools to succeed, though his limited experience has to be a concern for NFL teams spending such capital on him on the draft’s first day. With many teams at the top of the draft having a need at the position, Trubisky could be selected earlier than his talent deserves, as is often the case with quarterbacks. From a dynasty perspective, Trubisky, much like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, would be in the third-round range in rookie drafts despite his expected status as a top NFL Draft selection.

2)    Malachi Dupre, WR Louisiana Statedupre

LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre was a hot asset in devy dynasty leagues before even taking a step on campus. As a highly-ranked recruit and showing off his skills in a promising freshman season, Dupre was being viewed as a future top three dynasty rookie pick.

The past two seasons have been disappointments from Dupre and the entire Tiger passing offense. Virtually all of Dupre’s numbers dropped from his sophomore season to the 2016 campaign and his dynasty stock has plummeted. There has been little buzz as to whether Dupre will or will not make the leap. After a down year and a mid-season coaching change, Dupre could stick around for his senior season and hope to make a strong impression on NFL scouts and coaches. If he does declare, expect him to be a second-round pick in most dynasty rookie drafts.

3)    Juju Smith-Schuster, WR Southern California

I have to admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for USC receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. Much like Dupre, Smith-Schuster entered college with a lot of hype, which meant a great deal of devy value before he’d really done anything on the field. Also like Dupre, Smith-Schuster’s numbers were down in his junior season after a 1,400 yard sophomore season.

That second-year performance was enough for me to rank Juju as my top overall devy player entering the season, ahead of running backs like Fournette and Cook. A dismal beginning to the season led to a change at the quarterback spot and things were back on track for Smith-Schuster, but some of his warts were exposed early in the season. I am still a big fan of the USC receiver and despite some earlier talk that he and defensive back Adoree Jackson would return to make a run for the title, I expect both to make the leap to the NFL. Smith-Schuster should be a mid-first round dynasty rookie pick.

4)    Curtis Samuel, RB/WR Ohio State

In his first two seasons at Ohio State, do it all dynamo Curtis Samuel had flashed some upside, but was stuck behind the massive depth always deployed by the Buckeyes. With the departure of players like Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas, 2016 was Samuel’s chance to shine and he did just that. With 97 carries and 74 receptions, Samuel was the top threat for the Ohio State offense in nearly every situation.

I’m not even sure which position Samuel will play in the NFL but after seeing the performances of players like Ty Montgomery and Tyreek Hill, it might not matter. If Samuel makes the leap, he’s the type of player who could gain hype throughout the draft process and end up as a mid-first round rookie pick if he lands in the right spot.

5)    Courtland Sutton, WR Southern Methodist

About this time last year, I was chatting with friend and DLF writer Nick Whalen. In our conversation, he mentioned that he’d found “his next Corey Davis.” To say the least, I was intrigued. He dropped the name Courtland Sutton, a wide receiver from Southern Methodist who had just wrapped up his redshirt freshman season. I quickly rank to Youtube, Draft Breakdown, Noon Kick or anywhere else I could find clips of Sutton. By the time Nick’s 2016 version of the Devy Report was released, Sutton was a hot name in the devy market, being valued among top players like Smith-Schuster, Williams and more.

Sutton, a converted defensive back, didn’t let us down this season, eclipsing 1,200 receiving yards and scoring ten touchdowns for the second consecutive season.

While I love the talent of the 6’4”, 215 pound Sutton, I am worried that the small school and relative limited experience of two years playing receiver could push him to return to school for his junior season. That is not necessarily a bad thing as we saw Davis do the same thing a year ago, but as I said earlier, dynasty owners are greedy. We want these rookies and we want them now. If Sutton does surprise me and declare for the draft, he would be included in the top tier with Williams, Davis, Smith-Schuster and the pair of talented running backs, Fournette and Cook.

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ryan mcdowell
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