Summer is often seen as a chance to decompress from fantasy football. The draft hype season has come and gone. Dynasty managers are working through trades, though they have their rookie drafts behind them. Redraft managers are on cruise control until August.
Devy managers have no such luxury. With the constant churn of the transfer portal and unsettled depth charts, you need to keep your head on a swivel if you have any chance of keeping up with the ever-changing landscape. Fortunately, DLF has you covered with its devy content. We look at some of the game’s brightest stars here.
20. Mario Williams, WR USC (2024 Draft-Eligible)
Profile: Following both Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams to USC, former Oklahoma receiver Mario Williams made an immediate impact out west. Williams finished third on the team in receiving within a deep receiver room and enters 2023 with expanded opportunity following the departure of Jordan Addison. Riley has done an excellent job of building the wide receiver room with complementary skillsets.
While Williams is not a big receiver, he has a sturdy frame and seldom shies away from dirty areas. He is at his best in the intermediate game, using his electric feet and competitive play style to chew up yardage after the catch. He is a highly competitive receiver who can play in traffic down the field despite lacking the height you would typically see from contested catch mavens. Even if he profiles as a slot receiver, Williams has the tools to be a high-volume player who becomes an essential piece of an NFL offense.
2023 Outlook: The Trojans have four established veterans on their depth chart in Williams, Tahj Washington, Dorian Singer, and Brenden Rice. Behind them are explosive young talents in Zachariah Branch and Makai Lemon. No one receiver will dominate looks here, but with Caleb Williams under center, there will be plenty of footballs to go around. Mario Williams has an excellent shot at leading this group in receiving and, at the very least, is a lynchpin of this offense.
19. Quinn Ewers, QB Texas (2024 Draft-Eligible)
Profile: Quinn Ewers’ debut season in Austin was not the fairy tale many had hoped for. He struggled with consistency and had some extremely pedestrian performances in key midseason games, which ended the Longhorns pursuit of a Big 12 title. Of course, context is important. Ewers should have been a true freshman this past fall (he accelerated schooling to enroll at Ohio State and played sparingly), and Texas lacked the receiving depth, which is the hallmark of elite offenses.
The tools are still readily apparent. Few quarterbacks throw a prettier ball, and Ewers does it effortlessly. His upside was apparent early in the Alabama game as Ewers was dotting the football field with big-time throws, and it is easy to believe the Longhorns would have pulled off the upset had he not gotten injured midgame. His arm features elite velocity and the ability to stretch the field with vertical throws. He has enough athleticism to create on the move and keep a defense honest while demonstrating the poise to keep plays alive as the pocket muddies around him. Ewers’ stock has dipped a bit, given he is no longer the new kid on the block, but he is still a fantastic prospect who could figure prominently into the 2024 mix.
2023 Outlook: Despite bringing in the much-hyped Arch Manning, Ewers enters 2023 as the key to Texas’ season. If he takes a step forward, the Longhorns may finally become a national player once again. He is a Heisman sleeper and a player who should take a massive step forward.
18. Hykeem Williams, WR Florida State (2026 Draft-Eligible)
Profile: Throw a football into the air anywhere near Tallahassee, and it is likely Hykeem Williams will come down with it. There are a ton of physically gifted receivers in the 2023 cycle, but Williams may best them all. The 6’3″, 205-pound receiver plays above the rim and looks like he has spent multiple years in a collegiate weight room.
Despite a muscular frame, Williams is a loose mover who can create havoc in the screen game. His ability to play a small man’s and a big man’s game portends stardom at the next level. The Florida product is a bit green at the position and lacks natural nuance in his game, but those are the easiest traits for a receiver to add to their arsenal. Williams has shown the ability to win in multiple ways and possesses immense physical upside. He is ready to contribute.
2023 Outlook: Adding transfer Keon Coleman may limit Williams’ potential as they have some similarities in their skill sets, but Williams still has the tools to play early. Expect a smattering of splash plays that keep Williams’s value afloat before he steps to the forefront in 2024.
17. Luther Burden, WR Missouri (2025 Draft-Eligible)
Profile: Few receivers are as skilled with the ball in their hands as Luther Burden. He is as smooth as the top of a snow globe as he weaves through traffic, using his solid frame to finish runs like a running back. He excels in the short game, and his running skills make him an elite return man as well.
His physical style serves him well down the field as well. He is impervious to contact at the catch point and plucks the ball naturally away from his body with strong hands. Burden is one of the nation’s most unique weapons, and his versatility makes him a versatile chess piece for any offense. Despite rumblings he would transfer out, Burden is returning to Missouri, a major win for Eli Drinkwitz, a coach who needs to build some momentum in 2023.
2023 Outlook: Burden was effective as a true freshman yet was utilized in a very specific way. His 8.8 yards per reception was meager, and he often played near the line of scrimmage. The hope is that the departure of leading receiver Dominic Lovett opens up more downfield opportunities for Burden, as he can handle far more extensive duties.
16. Troy Franklin, WR Oregon (2024 Draft-Eligible)
Profile: The tall and lanky Troy Franklin crashed the national scene as a sophomore, posting a 61/891/9 line for an Oregon offense that opened things up following the departure of Mario Cristobal. It was a sensational campaign, one which showcased everything Franklin could do. Despite being thin at just under 180 pounds, Franklin stands at 6’3″ and has arms that knock out ceiling tiles when he stretches.
Franklin is incredibly fluid off the line and gets to top speed in a hurry, putting defenders in a blender and forcing them to play catchup at every juncture of the route. Franklin loves the sidelines and can make plays in the tightest of spaces. His frame makes him a true outside receiver, and he has the skills to develop into a number-one receiver at the NFL level.
2023 Outlook: Bo Nix is back, and the Ducks lose the productive Chase Cota and the talented Don’t’e Thornton. It is Franklin’s receiver room, and he should dominate looks. A first-team All-American type of season is well within range.
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