The Devy Fantasy Football Top 100: 20-16

Rob Willette

The fantasy football off-season is a long and arduous journey for many. You battle through the final weeks of winter with a forced smile and a warm, potentially spiked beverage. Yet for many in the fantasy football community, the off-season is a busy time in which you’re recalibrating rosters and forecasting the future.

Devy is one such area this occurs. Devy owners are constantly seeking the next fantasy star, often discovering them during a review of the previous season. The Devy 100 is intended to forecast those next stars and identify which talent is worth investing in. For the first time, these are in a superflex format due to this becoming the default at DLF.

20. Josh Downs, WR North Carolina Tar Heels (2023 Draft-Eligible)

Profile: 2021 was a struggle for the North Carolina football team, but nobody told Josh Downs he was supposed to slump. The sophomore was an electric playmaker from the opener, starting his breakout party with 123 yards and a score against Virginia Tech and finishing with a 101-1,335-8 line. Downs is a phenomenal athlete who accelerates and decelerates with equal ease. He can embarrass defenders off the line of scrimmage and separate in the open field with long speed. He is a joy to watch on the gridiron thanks to his incredible athleticism.

The big concern with Downs is always going to be his size. At 5’10”, he has a slight build and does not appear to have much room to add bulk. While there are far more opportunities for this type of receiver in the modern NFL, it may limit the roles he can play at the NFL level. However, those roles can easily bear fantasy fruit. When you get beyond the big two of Kayshon Boutte and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Josh Downs’ name should come up quickly when discussing 2023 receivers.

2022 Outlook: Sam Howell is now with the Commanders, leaving the Tar Heels to turn to either Drake Maye or Jacolby Criswell at quarterback. Maye is the favorite and as a high-end, pro-style recruit at quarterback, he is a good fit to work with Downs. Howell was an incredibly accomplished passer who helped unlock Downs’ skillset and a step back in production would not be surprising. However, this passing offense should be strong enough to allow Downs to thrive once again as one of the nation’s better weapons.

19. Tank Bigsby, RB Auburn Tigers (2023 Draft-Eligible)

Profile: With one of the greatest running back names of all time, Bigsby was born to play the position. He can plant his foot in the ground and explode to the second level, showcasing excellent burst and a slashing running style that chews up yardage. While he is not going to hit many home runs, he has plenty of athleticism, especially when working laterally in tight spaces. With 32 receptions over two seasons, he has also shown the ability to contribute in the passing game.

Bigsby’s game is not complex. He looks to get north-south in a hurry and finishes with power and a high compete level. His well-rounded game is something that should earn him a starting gig at the NFL level, even if he is never one of the game’s truly elite backs.

2022 Outlook: Even with the program seemingly in perpetual turmoil, Auburn produces talent. Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter make for one of the best duos in college football. Hunter will eat into this workload as an excellent player himself, but Bigsby should once again surpass 1,000 yards as the best player on this offense.

18. Spencer Rattler, QB South Carolina Gamecocks (2023 Draft-Eligible)

Profile: The coronation of Rattler as a Heisman candidate and first-round pick in 2022 went sideways in a hurry. Rattler struggled with consistency and ball placement, eventually losing his job to true freshman Caleb Williams, who proved ready for the main stage. Instead of building off his strong 2020, Rattler scuffled and transferred to South Carolina after the season.

For all his struggles last season, we still have reason to be bullish on Rattler. He averaged 9.6 yards per attempt in 2020, looking comfortable in Lincoln Riley’s offense. He has produced at a high level and done so for a well-respected offensive mind. It is easy to see why Rattler was a 5-Star recruit out of Arizona. He has an easy and quick release which allows him to toss darts all over the field. While not a huge threat with his legs, he is plenty mobile and can extend plays while still looking to make throws downfield.

Of course, his proclivity for taking unnecessary risks and his mental errors in the pocket are the reason he is now at South Carolina and not taking snaps at an NFL camp. I was guilty of pumping the tires on Rattler during the 2021 off-season. While his stock has cooled, I feel it would be an error to discount him as a potential NFL starter with immense upside.

2022 Outlook:  This is Rattler’s opportunity. South Carolina added him with the idea he takes over immediately. If he can return to his 2020 form with an inferior supporting cast surrounding him, he can mix right back into the first-round conversation.

17. Marvin Harrison Jr, WR Ohio State Buckeyes (2024 Draft-Eligible)

Profile:  You have probably sorted out this is Marvin Harrison’s son. Yes, we are getting old. No, I would not like to talk about it. The younger Harrison arrived in Columbus as a four-star prospect and has done nothing but impress ever since. Unlike his father, Harrison Jr has excellent length at 6’3” and has the frame to push 220 pounds. He is a large receiver with a willingness to get combative at the catch point.

He broke out in a big way in the Rose Bowl against Utah, securing three touchdowns as he established himself as the next big thing at the position for Ohio State. He is by all accounts a hard worker who already has an advanced feel for route running and manipulating defenders. Add in elite size and you have a receiver readymade for stardom.

2022 Outlook: Said stardom should greet Harrison Jr in 2022. He is one of the more obvious breakout candidates in college football, a supremely gifted receiver who popped late in the season and gets to work with arguably college football’s most gifted passer. With Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave moving on, the time is now for Harrison Jr to explode onto the scene.

16. Sean Tucker, RB Syracuse Orange (2023 Draft-Eligible)

Profile:  A high-energy back with a versatile skill set and a humble persona, Tucker is an easy guy to root for. He has legitimate track speed, and it translates to the football field as he rockets out of the backfield and can simply outrace defenders. A comfortable receiver out of the backfield, he can pluck the ball smoothly with his hands and immediately become a runner without any wasted motion.

Tucker’s competitiveness can almost be a detriment at times, as he will tense up and brace for contact instead of making subtle movements to pick up an extra yard or two. It is hardly a big negative, as you’d rather tone someone down than have to rile them up; Tucker’s warts are coachable, and he gives off the vibe as an immensely coachable player. Already one of the best players in program history, he has thrived in relative obscurity for a Syracuse team stuck in neutral.

2022 Outlook:  Even amidst challenging circumstances during the pandemic, Tucker took over as a starter during a true freshman in 2020. He expanded his game in 2021 as he became one of the best backs in the nation. It is exciting to think of what he can do in 2022, especially as he is a notoriously hard worker who has overcome a lackluster supporting cast during his time with the Orange. He looks to be cruising towards day two of the 2023 NFL Draft.

rob willette
The Devy Fantasy Football Top 100: 20-16