Welcome to week four of the 2018 Target Acquired series. If you enjoyed the series last year, you’re in for a good time! Dynasty strategy has many layers to it, but one of the more fun aspects of it all is player research and analysis. And whether you play in devy leagues, “normal” dynasty leagues, or just love college football, it’s a blast to dig into some of the best NFL prospects in the country. This series takes a look every week at a mix of college football players who just bolstered their chances of making it to the pros with a stellar performance.
Some will be names you recognize. Others will be the deepest of sleepers that no one knew until yesterday. Regardless, the point is to tuck these names away as you prepare for all of your drafts, trades, and just-for-fun research in the future.
2018 football is still starting to tell a story on future NFL playmakers and I have my set of “Targets Acquired” for any and every format out there.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
The “perfect quarterback recruit” looks like he’s finally ready to blast off for Clemson. Trevor Lawrence had been the number one recruit in the nation for what seemed like a lifetime when he finally stepped on to Clemson’s campus. The pressure was clearly on him to make an instant impact for the Tigers. This past weekend he answered the call, albeit in a small sample size.
His first scoring drive went or 74 yards on just seven plays and a touchdown. He did throw one interception trying to pull off a ridiculous deep throw, but Lawrence looked like a seasoned veteran on Saturday. He finished the day with four touchdowns on just 18 pass attempts. He’s now officially been named the starter and it’s time to get excited. Expect him to only improve as he gains confidence and rapport with Clemson’s legion of top wide receiver recruits.
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Miles Sanders, Penn State
It’s not too often a former top-25 recruit in the nation falls below the radar. But it’s also not too often a player like Saquon Barkley comes along. Miles Sanders was stuck behind one of the best running backs in college football history for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but now it’s his turn. And boy, he hasn’t wasted any time this year.
Sanders absolutely demolished Illinois this past weekend for 200 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. And yes, it’s Illinois, but Sanders shredded them for nine yards per carry with ease. It also hasn’t just been this week that Sanders has looked good thus far. Sanders has accumulated at least 86 yards on the ground and 111 yards from scrimmage in every single game this season. He is draft eligible for 2019, and could sneak into the day two discussion after he destroys the NFL Combine next spring should he choose to declare for the NFL Draft.
Benny Snell, Kentucky
“Benny Snell for Heisman?” is going to become a real question here soon. And truthfully, if Snell played for a better football school than Kentucky, this wouldn’t even be a hot take in the slightest. Snell kicked off his collegiate career with 1,100 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns as a true freshman. Then he followed that up with an even better season in 2017 with 1,400 yards and 19 scores. 2018 he’s taking an even more impressive step.
Snell single-handedly crushed the hopes and dreams of a good Mississippi State team. Kentucky only threw for 71 yards, but that’s all they needed. Snell ran for 165 yards and four touchdowns. Mississippi State just didn’t have an answer for him.
Kentucky’s strange scheme is super run-heavy. They sprinkle in some wildcat looks, lots of motion, and centered around creative halfback usage. Snell will definitely need to get used to a more conventional role at the next level. But right now Snell looks like the real deal. If he shows even average athleticism he should be a steal in the NFL Draft one day.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Stanford has definitely provided the world with some stud tight ends, but hasn’t always been known for their wide receivers. Arcega-Whiteside is going to change that by himself. He just logged his third multi-touchdown game of the season through four games in Saturday’s miraculous comeback win over Oregon and that should surprise no one.
Arcega-Whiteside basically just never loses contested situations thanks to his physical brand of football. The one worry may be his true long speed and quickness, but he still gets open consistently. Expect him to finish with somewhere around 15 touchdowns on the season and generate some mid-round NFL Draft buzz.
Dillon Mitchell, Oregon
Dillon Mitchell entered the 2018 season as one of the top wide receivers in the PAC-12 conference, but many don’t know much about him. Mitchell was a four-star recruit coming out of high school with some decent size. He’s actually possibly grown just a bit and added some weight, so now he looks like a legit WR1.
Mitchell broke out last year as Oregon’s top option, but really made a statement this past week. He somehow managed 14 receptions and 239 yards against one of the best teams in the country in Stanford. The rest of the Oregon Ducks only had 12 receptions. Mitchell should continue to grow into a draft-worthy prospect with the elite quarterback Justin Herbert throwing him the ball this year.
T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
The Iowa Hawkeyes might have the best tight end tandem in college football. Noah Fant is a young Rob Gronkowski in-the-making. He is the slam dunk, ridiculous prospect. But don’t forget about T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson was a jumbo wide receiver in high school, but he never even really threw a block until college. However, now that he’s been with Iowa for a few seasons it’s clear Hockenson has grown into a fantastic blocker as well as receiver. And of course, for fantasy football purposes Hockenson’s receiving ability is the most exciting.
Hockenson grabbed just three passes this past weekend against Wisconsin, but he led the team with 125 receiving yards. He may be 6’5”, 250 pounds, but he can get downfield and stretch the seam. If Hockenson continues growing as a blocker, he is going to be the TE1 in the 2020 NFL Draft.
IDP (Individual Defensive Player)
Khalil Hodge, Buffalo (Linebacker)
Buffalo already gave us one stud named Khalil (Mack). Khalil Hodge looks to be the second as he continues to showcase his absurd tackle vacuum skills. Hodge logged 153 total tackles just one year ago and he’s at it again. So far this season he’s posted games with eight, ten, 14, and 15 total tackles, plus a few tackles for loss. Hodge could end up being taken in round three of the NFL Draft, but finding an early starting role as a true Mike linebacker. He has the strength, awareness, and play speed to hit the ground running as an every down IDP monster.
I hope you enjoyed the fourth Target Acquired of the 2018 season! Let me know if you have any questions on any of these guys. If you want me to watch any specific upcoming games closer than others just let me know via Twitter @FF_TravisM. Also, since college daily fantasy is back be looking for some #TouchdownTime videos from me on that via Twitter! Best of luck to you in all of your fantasy leagues!