The off-season is always an exciting time for dynasty owners. This goes double if your league also has a devy aspect. Between depth-chart shuffling, recruiting season, and spring ball, there is a lot going on in the college football world.
This comes with the disclaimer reiterating fantasy football is an inexact science. This is exacerbated when you throw college talent into the mix. Many guys not on this list are sure to breakout and become notable NFL prospects. But these are in my estimation the individuals with the most next level potential.
30 – WR Tee Higgins, Clemson Tigers
Tee Higgins has the Go-Go Gadget arms which seem to extend for miles beyond his body. From day one, he should be one of the better jump ball receivers due to his size and fearless mentality when the football is in the air. He could benefit from some linear speed exercises; as is he is a rather straight-line athlete with limited bulk and explosive ability. The overall package, however, portends a successful collegiate receiver who can become physically dominant with nominal gains in his portfolio. Clemson has an established group of receivers and their passing game will take a step back, but expect a 2018 breakout from Higgins.
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29 – RB Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M Aggies
Much like the rest of the Aggies, Trayveon Williams came surging out of the gates before cooling as the season went on. Open field wizardry and an urgent rushing style dazzled opponents as Williams became one of the SEC’s top running backs as a true freshman. Few are better in space and his movement skills offer elite potential as a multi-purpose weapon who can manipulate matchups out of the backfield. There are ample reasons to be pretty bullish on his game.
28 – RB Sewo Olonilua, TCU Horned Frogs
A unique athlete who could have potentially played an edge position or safety out of high school, Sewo Olonilua enters his sophomore year as one of the nation’s most intriguing talents. At 6’3”, 225 pounds, Olonilua is a bull-in-a-china shop runner who’s impervious to tentative tacklers. There’s no wasted motion in anything he does and he’s displayed natural coordination as a receiver despite only two career receptions; his off-field work is an impressive collection. He’s all projection at this point, but such is life in devy circles. Few can match his athletic profile.
27 – RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State Buckeyes
One of spring football’s brightest stars, J.K. Dobbins has laid waste to the Ohio State backfield depth chart behind Mike Weber and appears poised to make significant contributions as a true freshman despite missing his entire senior season. A premier athlete who laughs at your pursuit angles, he can win with raw athleticism alone yet displays a running savvy and underrated toughness as well. While Weber is unlikely to be usurped as the Buckeyes’ lead back who grinds out tough yards, Dobbins very well may be the most talented player in this backfield. As early as this year he could prove to be one of the B1G’s best playmakers.
26 – WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama Crimson Tide
Calvin Ridley can do a lot of things. He can get discounted movie tickets. He can eat dinner at 4PM. He can also contribute in a variety of ways on the football field, with effortless movement skills and the ability to make plays on the football in the rare opportunities he is given in the Tide’s station to station offense. He’s a fairly polished receiver overall, though despite plus athleticism and quality production I view him as more of a number two wide receiver at the NFL level. I am not sure the traits translate into an alpha receiver. He’s a safe prospect, however, and can bring a paternal presence to any team’s receiving room.
25 – RB Royce Freeman, Oregon Ducks
There are fair criticisms of Royce Freeman’s game. He tends to play at one speed and while he is not a soft runner, he’s also not a bruiser despite a mammoth frame at 6’0”, 230. However, he’s a big back with good feet who can contribute in the passing game. Those guys tend to stick in the league, and his well-rounded game is complemented by the size to eschew arm tackles and wear down a defense over the course of four quarters. Lacking in flash, Freeman has enough substance to be a starter at the NFL level.
24 – WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels
It is difficult to find somebody who does not love D.K. Metcalf. The fact I have not anointed him the top receiver in 2019 is likely to draw the ire of Pitchfork Nation. There’s no denying Metcalf is a physical specimen. He has an NFL body and perhaps the best ball skills in college football. Throw a football to a cumulus cloud and Metcalf is likely to go up and get it. He’s a workout warrior who can join the linemen in the weight room; work ethic is not a question. My only area of reticence is some sloppy route-running at his All-American game in 2016 as well as how explosive of an overall athlete he is. If his athleticism stagnates, he may evolve into more of a Mike Williams-esque prospect as opposed to a truly elite one. These are admittedly minor points to nitpick at, but when you get to this spot in the rankings, the separation is minimal.
23 – WR Antonio Callaway, Florida Gators
I’m a huge fan of Antonio Callaway, and would place him higher had he not had a string of off-field issues. Nothing has been major or alarming at this point, but multiple incidents at least make you take notice. On the field, Callaway plays like a big receiver despite being listed at only 5’11”, 197. I was surprised to learn he was under six feet; his game and presence on the field speak to him being an alpha. Despite poor quarterback play during most of his tenure, he has been extremely productive and he has a toolkit which portends great route-running prowess. There are few holes in Callaway’s game, and despite a relatively large profile he is still relatively unheralded in devy circles.
22 – RB Najee Harris, Alabama Crimson Tide
The latest mega-recruit running back to land in Tuscaloosa, Najee Harris is on the Derrick Henry/Bo Scarbrough spectrum when it comes to having almost comical size for the position, yet his game is a bit different from his herculean predecessors. Not the athlete Henry is nor with the brute power of Scarbrough, Harris wins with a determined running style and well-rounded game which includes plus pass catching skills. Despite being a freshman, Harris seems like a relatively safe devy prospect due to his frame, assortment of skills, and what by all accounts is a high level of character. He’s worth a heavy investment.
21 – WR Deon Cain, Clemson Tigers
Clemson’s deep threat during his first two seasons on campus, Deon Cain is a highly regarded prospect despite limited snaps behind Mike Williams and Artavis Scott. Poised to take over Williams’ role as lead receiver, we’ll get to see all which Cain has in his arsenal in 2017. He has a unique ability to create late separation in his routes and while I would not call him a jump ball maven, he is very adept at making plays in traffic and plucks the ball with his hands. I am always left wanting a little more from Cain; perhaps more opportunity this season will allow his game to really blossom.