Welcome to week 11 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 college football is somehow already nearing its end! This season has revealed to us some of the best future NFL playmakers now and I have my set of “Targets Acquired” for any and every format out there.
Gardner Minshew, Washington State
When a quarterback comes in to replace the most prolific passer in PAC-12 history (Luke Falk) you would expect a slight drop off in production. Nope. Gardner Minshew transferred from East Carolina and has immediately become the most consistently dominant quarterback in the PAC-12 this season. Minshew has tossed 29 touchdowns to just seven interceptions in the Cougars’ ten games this season. He’s thrown for over 300 passing yards in every single game this year.
Yes, Washington State throws a ton, but Minshew simply cannot be stopped. Opposing defenses know what is coming, sit on their heels, and get destroyed every week. This past weekend was just business as usual as he crushed Colorado for 335 yards and a couple scores on his way to a 31-7 victory. He has a better arm and mobility than last year’s Cougar quarterback, Luke Falk. Minshew has put together an impressive season and could be a steal in the 2019 draft.
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Isaiah Bowser, Northwestern
Isaiah Bowser not only shares the name of a character from Mario video games, he’s also a wildly productive true freshman running back for Northwestern. After Justin Jackson left for the NFL and Jeremy Larkin medically retired early this season Northwestern was left with a huge hole at running back. And for a team that still likes to run the ball about 50% of the time that was a huge deal. Enter Isaiah Bowser.
Although he was just a three-star recruit, Bowser has near feature back size, decent speed, and this past week proved he could catch some passes too. He was the sole reason Northwestern was able to defeat Iowa this past weekend as he carried the rock 31 times for 165 yards and a score. He also added 33 receiving yards. He’s averaged 121 rushing yards in his first four starts for Northwestern and looks to be the lead back for the next three years. Get him on your rosters before everyone else figures that out.
Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
Chuba Hubbard also has a pretty cool name, but he might have an even sneakier opportunity than Bowser in his near future. Justice Hill has been an absolute stud for the Oklahoma State Cowboys for a few years now, but he will likely be departing for the NFL next spring. And this past weekend, the Cowboys showed what their future could look like without Hill leading the rushing attack. Why? Hill took a nasty shot to the ribs and missed most of the game. But what happened after that? Hubbard took over.
Hubbard ran for 104 yards on 22 carries and found the end zone three times. He also added five catches for 49 yards. Simply put, Hubbard, a redshirt freshman, answered the call in one of the biggest rivalry games in the country with 27 touches and 153 yards from scrimmage. At 6’1”, 210 pounds, if Hubbard takes over the offense on that level next year he will be a top NFL Draft prospect before we know it.
Marquise“Hollywood” Brown, Oklahoma
Marquise Brown doesn’t get the same devy fantasy football love that his teammate CeeDee Lamb gets, but that probably needs to change. Yes, “Hollywood” is probably not even 170 pounds right now, but he doesn’t have to win with physicality to find the end zone. Brown grabbed his eighth touchdown of the season this past weekend against Oklahoma State and added 142 receiving yards to his resume while he was at it.
Brown is a nasty deep threat who’s currently averaging 18.6 yards per reception over his two seasons with Oklahoma. In today’s NFL, these smaller players are beginning to rule the day. Don’t be surprised if Brown gets taken inside round three when he enters the NFL Draft.
Jalen Reagor, TCU
However high you are on Jalen Reagor it’s probably still far too low. Reagor finished his 2017 true freshman campaign as one of the most productive youngsters in the country, but he was just getting started. He already has 876 yards and seven scores this season working with a struggling second-year quarterback and a low-level backup replacement. And even though TCU was getting destroyed last week Reagor still found his way for 11 catches, 150 yards, and the team’s only touchdown. Reagor’s burst off the line, route running, and yards-after-catch ability are reminiscent of a young Odell Beckham Jr. and no, that is not hyperbole.
Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt
Most years Jared Pinkney’s production would put him on pace to be one of the top few tight ends in the country. However, the tight ends of 2018 are quietly making a bunch of noise this year. Caleb Wilson, Jace Sternberger, Josh Oliver, Kaden Smith, and T.J. Hockenson (all covered in this series) all have more than 600 receiving yards this year. But don’t let that cause you to ignore Pinkney.
Pinkney just snagged this sixth touchdown of the season and dropped 88 receiving yards against Missouri and that was maybe his third best game of the year. He also put up 111 yards and a score against Notre Dame and scored twice against Arkansas just a week ago. Pinkney’s impressive athleticism, ideal size, and body control are going to set him apart when he enters the NFL Draft.
IDP (Individual Defensive Player)
Chase Hansen, Utah (Linebacker/Rover/Safety)
If you’re unfamiliar with Chase Hansen right now you won’t be by next April. Hansen is an absolute monster of an athlete and will find his place in the early rounds of many draft boards next spring. Why? He kicked off his college career as a quarterback, switched to strong safety, and has now converted to more of a rover linebacker role. If you’re unfamiliar with the “rover” role, that is typically a hybrid between an outside linebacker playing at the line and a cover linebacker/safety (at least for the Utah defense anyway).
Hansen makes plays all over the field, but this year, mostly in the backfield. He has 88 total tackles on the season, but 19 of them have been for a loss. Plus he has five sacks and two interceptions. Hansen is seemingly everywhere on the field at all times. Last weekend he killed the Oregon Ducks for 13 totals tackles, a sack, and 3.5 tackles for loss. Get ready to own Hansen in every IDP league that you can regardless of his pro position.
I hope you enjoyed the eleventh 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!