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.
20 – WR Jaylen Smith, Louisville Cardinals
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
With only three offers from Power 5 schools, Jaylen Smith was not expected to become a frequent contributor within the Cardinals offense, yet alone a premier playmaker in the ACC. Smith, however, has exceeded expectations every step of the way, from freshman starter to the favorite to be Lamar Jackson’s go-to receiver in 2017. Tall, sleek, and with strong hands, Smith is already one of the nation’s preeminent deep threats and can effortlessly outpace defenders. The size/speed combination is enough to get excited about; if he can add nuance in his route-running and start to bully defensive backs off the line he could explode in 2017.
19 – RB DeAndre Swift, Georgia Bulldogs
There’s not a ton of flash to DeAndre Swift’s game. There are also very few holes. Most notably, he’s a natural in the passing game and makes plays on the football like a wide receiver. Tough, rugged runners with ample athleticism and plus skills in the passing game seem like a safe bet to thrive, which is why I am so bullish on Swift despite Georgia’s loaded backfield and a loaded class of incoming freshman backs.
18 – WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Long a legend for his name, Equanimeous St. Brown is on the verge of becoming a legend for his game following a breakout season for a scuffling Fighting Irish team. St. Brown is one of many lanky receivers with excellent ball skills who are inundating the college ranks right now. A quality athlete with a strong on-field work ethic, his game should continue to mature and his dad is a former two-time Mr. Universe if you’re into the whole bloodlines thing. Despite a relatively thin frame, St. Brown looks to have good weight room strength, though I’d like to see him translate it to the field more often, specifically after the catch. He can win at the college level with his separation and size but when time and space get eliminated I question how much RAC ability he will have. I view him as a good prospect at the moment with the toolkit to elevate to great.
17 – WR Auden Tate, Florida State Seminoles
Arguably the best high-pointer in the nation, Auden Tate had a mini-breakout in 2016 and expectations should be sky-high in 2017 with Travis Rudolph moving on. Mid-air gesticulations allow him to win even without separation and on redzone production alone, he could be a fantasy factor. He’s yet to flash other aspects of his game and there is reason to be concerned his game may not be versatile enough to truly star; he’s not a dynamic athlete and testing may paint a picture of how dominant he become. He’s still a young prospect, however, and we see plenty of athletes make gains in their explosiveness over the course of their college careers. If Tate falls into this category, NFL number one is well within reach.
16 – RB Damarea Crockett, Missouri Tigers
There seems to be a cautious approach when it comes to Damarea Crockett, and I am not entirely certain why. Crockett eviscerated SEC competition as a true freshman and at times looked like a man amongst boys despite competing against legitimate NFL talent each and every week. A plus athlete whose only limitation is long speed, he’s powerful, decisive, and played big in some of Mizzou’s biggest games. His experience and production as a pass catcher is extremely limited to this point, and is really the only thing standing between him being the top back in the 2019 class.
15 – WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami Hurricanes
A magician post-catch, Ahmmon Richards has some kinks to work out pre-catch but his overall skill-set is elite and the areas he needs improvement in are coachable. A graceful mover, Richards can create separation at will and I feel he has the versatility to contribute inside and outside. I like Richards a lot, enough to rank him over some more heralded talents in the 2018 draft class.
14 – RB Kallen Ballage, Arizona State Sun Devils
Big backs with advanced receiving skills are a rare commodity and tend to do well pretty well at the NFL level. Kalen Ballage fits the mold and getting him out in space at the second level is a nightmare scenario for the defense. He has too much juice for linebackers and no defensive back with a good head on their shoulders is going to be enthused about taking him on as a tackler. Rushing production as a whole was down for the Sun Devils in 2016, leaving it difficult to glean too much from his pedestrian running totals. He’s the annual unique evaluation whose toolkit will confound NFL traditionalists, yet whose impact could prove to be one of the greatest in the 2018 class.
13 – RB Nick Chubb, Georgia Bulldogs
Seldom can a runner lose a step and still be considered a top prospect. The fact Nick Chubb still holds such a lofty perch after ripping up virtually every part of his knee in 2015 is a testament to his overall talent. Even at a bulldozing 5’10”, 228 pounds, Chubb glides effortlessly through the front seven and plays powerfully without exposing himself to big hits. Even if he has lost something athletically, he is a fantastic player and lead back. If he reverts back to pre-injury form, he is my number three overall player.
12 – RB Ronald Jones, USC Trojans
Ronald Jones hits the hole as though he has utilized the Z button with a mushroom in his arsenal. Speed is his hallmark, but he’s not just a one-trick pony. He can manipulate angles due to his athleticism and treats arm tackles with a sideways smirk. He’s not yet 20 years old (08/03/1997 date of birth) and is not quite done with his physical development. Jones is one of college football’s more natural runners and should cement a day two grade at worst with Justin Davis now out of the picture.
11 – RB Myles Gaskin, Washington Huskies
Myles Gaskin is undersized per your typical, old school running back dimensions. I get it. I don’t care. There are few more explosive running backs in college football. Whether it is darting to the second level, or taking on tacklers, everything Gaskin does is with enthusiasm. He’s toyed with the Pac-12 the past two seasons despite sharing a backfield with another talented runner. His passing game role was expanded in 2016 and he’s displayed the ability to turn from receiver to runner seamlessly. I’ll believe his size is an issue when I see it. Gaskin is an excellent prospect.