Devy 100: 90-86

Rob Willette

As dynasty owners putter about the interwebs discussing short shuttle times and dissecting the nuances of the Dominator Rating, Devy owners are intently watching Spring Practices and eyeing key positional battles. They say dynasty football never sleeps, but devy football never even rests. From Signing Day (both of them) to fall camp, devy calendars are chock-full of important dates.

The Devy 100 is a breakdown of some of the best collegiate talent around. Players will be missed; others will emerge. My rankings will be cursed from Juneau, Alaska to Key West, Florida. Yet hopefully it provides a modicum of assistance to those navigating the murky waters of deep leagues, struggling to identify their tenth round selection as they decide between Auburn’s third-string running back and an incoming freshman receiver at Ohio State. Without any further inane ramblings, on to the list.

90. Joshua Kelley, RB UCLA (2020 Eligible)

The Skinny: Despite a late surge, including a win over sinking rival USC, it was a largely forgettable first season for Chip Kelly. But don’t put those failings on Josh Kelley’s shoulders. The former transfer walk-on was a revelation in 2018, and Kelley’s weaving ways were a blessing for an offense undergoing a major transition under the former Oregon head man.

While shiftiness is Kelley’s game, he possesses a competitive mentality as a runner, refusing to cede yardage to ill-intentioned defenders. I question whether Kelley’s overall toolkit translates to a major role at the next level, but he planted himself on the radar and still has plenty of room to grow despite being a seasoned collegiate back at this point.

2019 Outlook: The Bruins figure to have more offensive playmakers in year two of the Chip Kelly Era. But this is still Kelley’s offense. The Bruins are going to be young in most spots, making Kelley’s 252 total touches from 2018 the baseline. Playing the late games for a rebuilding program is sure to cause Kelley to continue to be overlooked, but a truly special season could be on tap in 2019.

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89. Damon Hazelton, WR Virginia Tech (2020 Eligible)

The Skinny: The jump from the Group of 5 to the Power 5 was a seamless one for Damon Hazelton. After a strong freshman season at Ball State in 2016, Hazelton made the jump to the ACC and quickly stood out for a Hokie team in transition. Bulked up to over 220 pounds, Hazelton matched his freshman season reception total of 51 but surged from 505 receiving yards to 802.

The local DMV product pairs with Sean SaVoy to give Virginia Tech perhaps the most intriguing pair of receivers in the ACC, non-Clemson division. While far from a plodder, I am not sure Hazelton has the explosive traits to thrive as an alpha receiver at the next level. His possession skills and credible RAC talent, however, make him ideally suited to be a complementary weapon.

2019 Outlook: As Virginia Tech’s top returning receiver, it is safe to slot in Hazelton as a massive contributor in 2019. Ryan Willis performed admirably under center given expectations bestowed upon him but is safe to wonder if this passing game has another gear. If they can find it – either with Willis or one of their recent highly rated recruits – Hazelton could become one of the league’s more productive receivers.

88. Jeff Thomas, WR Miami (2020 Eligible)

The Skinny: It has been an interesting year for Jeff Thomas. He was dismissed from the team by former coach Mark Richt, announced a transfer to Illinois, was then reinstated by new coach Manny Diaz and opted to remain in Miami for his junior season. It was an odd saga, yet one which plays out in Thomas’ favor over the long-term.

An explosive stop and start athlete with a ‘my ball’ mentality which belies his short stature, Thomas paced the Hurricanes with 563 yards, a pedestrian total until you realize just how bad Miami’s quarterback play was. There’s baggage here, but Thomas oozes potential and has simply too much talent to avoid once you get past the top tier of the rankings.

2019 Outlook: Thomas returns to a new look Miami offense. Ohio State transfer Tate Martell is expected to take over under center after being granted immediate eligibility. Gone is possession wideout Lawrence Cager, leaving the Hurricanes fairly thin at wideout. In what figures to be a new, more exciting offense (because what isn’t in juxtaposition with 2018) Thomas could thrive and restore the hype which existed following his splash play filled freshman campaign.

87. Colby Parkinson, TE Stanford (2020 Eligible)

The Skinny: Colby Parkinson is the proverbial first off the bus type of player. A long, sinewy frame at 6’7” allows Parkinson to simply toy with smaller defenders. In conjunction with his essentially incomparable height, Parkinson has long speed and athletic bend seldom seen in massive tight ends.

He’s lean and not a menacing blocker, but you’re not littering your fantasy teams with blocking tight ends. From a pure receiving standpoint, Parkinson is as gifted as they come and stands to continue the long line of Stanford tight ends who are drafted early.

2019 Outlook: The Cardinal lose JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Trenton Irwin, leaving a thin depth chart at receiver. This could allow Parkinson and his fellow TEs to earn a larger target share, one which is already abnormally large for a collegiate program. 2019 figures to be Parkinson’s best season to date and he will have ample opportunity to emerge as 2020’s top option at the position.

86. Malik Davis, RB Florida (2020 Eligible)

The Skinny: Davis had the look of a future star during his freshman campaign. A natural pass-catcher aided by rocket propulsion technology through the hole, Davis has plus traits in spades. He’s quick, decisive, and above all has an innate feel for running the football.

Unfortunately, both of his years on campus have been truncated by serious lower-body injuries. They have prevented Davis from becoming a true breakout star; even with the depth in the Gator backfield, Davis may possess the most overall talent. Including Davis is a true bet on talent situation, but players in this area of the rankings are going to have warts. When bad beats on the health front are one of those warts, the gamble is well worth it.

2019 Outlook: The aforementioned depth of the Gators depth chart is likely to prevent Davis from crushing the SEC in 2019. But we’re first and foremost looking at health; it is important to see his considerable explosiveness has not been sapped by multiple and serious lower-body ailments. A healthy season would be a serious boost to Davis’ national profile given his talent level is merely a stone’s throw from the behemoths who are currently gracing the 2020 running back draft class.


rob willette