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.
With the passing of the college underclassmen deadline to declare their intentions for the upcoming NFL Draft, the class of 2017 is set. This rookie class has been looked at for years as a dynasty game-changer and while there are still plenty of players to be excited about, some dynasty owners evidently feel like they’ve been left at the alter by some of the key prospects.
Maybe it is because this draft class has been discussed and scrutinized so heavily over the past few months and years, but it seems like more than ever, high-level college athletes opted to stay in school. Let’s have a look at some of the top devy players who decided they were heading back to school.
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1. Nick Chubb, RB Georgia
Ever since a freshman season breakout that saw him take over for an injured Todd Gurley, Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb has been one of the gems of the devy community. Chubb racked up over 1,700 yards from scrimmage back in 2014 and he is one of the key reasons why dynasty players have been anxiously awaiting this upcoming draft class. Surprisingly though, Chubb will not be included in the NFL Draft or dynasty rookie drafts taking place this spring.
After an injury-riddled season, Chubb, along with fellow Georgia running back Sony Michel, announced he would return for his senior season. Maybe this should be such a surprise. After all, Chubb managed just six games during his sophomore season before suffering a knee injury that put him on the shelf and other than a huge performance against North Carolina in this season’s opener, he hasn’t looked the same since. Chubb is certainly still a high-level prospect but he went from being viewed as the hands-down 1.01 rookie pick in the class of 2017 to a mid-first rounder in next year’s crop, likely falling behind players like Derrius Guice and Saquon Barkley.
2. Courtland Sutton, WR Southern Methodist
During his first season at SMU, Courtland Sutton was simply a defensive back who rarely got a chance on the offensive side of the ball before an injury cut short his freshman season. By his second season in 2015, Sutton, now a redshirt freshman, was permanently moved to wideout and his career trajectory was altered. Sutton enjoyed a breakout season and landed firmly on the radars of dynasty and devy players everywhere after catching 49 passes for 862 yards and nine touchdowns. Sutton improved on those numbers this past season and his reputation was growing, so much so that he was being talked about as a potential first round pick in this spring’s NFL Draft. Ultimately, Sutton opted to go back to school and in what appears to be a subpar wide receiver class in 2018, he is already the favorite to be the first pass catcher selected in both the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts.
3. Bo Scarbrough, RB Alabama
It has been a wild ride for Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough. Before he even took a snap for the Crimson Tide, he had to endure a serious injury, poor grades that threatened his spot in school and on the team and a NCAA imposed suspension. Scarbrough played sparingly during his redshirt freshman season in 2015 as Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and his backfield mate Kenyan Drake dominated the touches. While the 2016 backfield was even more crowded, Scarbrough took full advantage of his opportunity, especially as the season neared a conclusion. In the final two games of the season, both playoff games, Scarbrough dominated, rushing for 180 yards and two scores against Washington and 93 yards and another pair of touchdowns against Clemson before suffering a broken bone in his leg that ended his game and season.
While Scarbrough’s season-long performance might not have been consistent enough to deem him worthy of making the leap to the NFL, I still expected him to consider it, largely due to the backfield depth Alabama will feature next season. Along with Scarbrough, the Crimson Tide will also have their leading rusher, Damien Harris back, along with a pair of impressive freshmen from this past season, Joshua Jacobs and BJ Emmons. There will also be two more backs from the high school class of 2017, Brian Robinson and the top overall high school recruit, Najee Harris. One or more of these players will likely redshirt, or maybe even transfer, but I was still surprised Scarbrough didn’t use his end of season hot streak to leap to the league.
4. James Washington, WR Oklahoma State
Every year as players decide to go back to school, I am reminded that dynasty owners, myself included, often make wild assumptions too far in advance. Assuming that all top draft eligible players will declare for the NFL and leave college early is just one of those assumptions. While Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington is a very good wideout who has been on the radar of highly active dynasty owners for over a year now, he wasn’t necessarily a household name for the average football fan. Washington has now posted back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons as the top option for quarterback Mason Rudolph, who also passed up a chance to leave school early. Perhaps the duo made this plan together in hopes of leading the Cowboys to a run at a playoff spot in 2017. Washington obviously remains a highly sought after prospect and could be one of the stars in a below average 2018 wideout class.
5. Royce Freeman, RB Oregon
Oregon’s Royce Freeman is another young runner who burst onto the scene during his freshman season and has been a hot devy commodity since and like Chubb, it was a bit of a surprise that he chose to return to school, especially considering the Ducks were going through a coaching change. New head coach Willie Taggart did one of his better recruiting jobs convincing Freeman to stay in school for one more season. Injuries slowed Freeman this season, who barely cracked 1,000 yards from scrimmage after totaling over 2,100 as a sophomore. Nonetheless, he is now part of what looks to be another stacked running back class in 2018. Along with the aforementioned Chubb, Guice, Barkley, Harris and Scarbrough, other talents in the class include Ronald Jones II, LJ Scott, Myles Gaskin and Kalen Ballage. That depth means Freeman could get lost in the shuffle, which is good news for dynasty owners.