I’m a list guy. I make “to do” lists, follow “honey do” lists, and will take time to read a top ten list of almost anything. This series of articles will bring you a top-five ranking of a myriad of topics in the world of dynasty football.
You may not realize this, but Monday 15th is a big day around these parts. No, I’m not talking about a government holiday, no offense to the great Dr. King. Monday is also Declaration Day, the final opportunity for college underclassmen to bypass the remainder of the amateur career for a chance at the greener pastures of the National Football League.
With just a few days remaining for these young men to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives, there are a few I have my eye on. These are players who have already made an impact on their college teams and could make a splash in rookie drafts as well. All of these players would be in contention to be first-round rookie picks, adding some excellent value to the current crop of rookies.
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Bryce Love, RB Stanford
With his former teammate Christian McCaffrey flourishing for the Carolina Panthers, Stanford junior running back Bryce Love enjoyed a breakout season. Love was second in the nation with 2,118 rushing yards, one of only two FBS players in the country to exceed the 2,000-rushing yard mark.
Love’s play was enough to earn him a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist, where he finished second to Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Love was actually the favorite to earn the award early in the season as he was posting unreal yardage and doing so on relatively few carries. He averaged over seven yards per carry in each of his first seven games before sitting out against Oregon State. For the remainder of the season, Love was clearly hurting, dealing with an ankle injury for the final weeks of the season.
Love has become known for his breakaway speed but can also run between the tackles rather well for a sub-200 pound back. Love is also a threat in the passing game and had drawn comparisons to his predecessor McCaffrey. There will be some concerns about Love’s size and durability and he has not been considered as a first-round NFL draft pick. He’d likely be an option as early as the middle of the first round of dynasty rookie drafts.
For a more in-depth look at Love’s game, check out this profile from Justin Bales.
Deon Cain, WR Clemson
Although he arrived at Clemson as one of the most-coveted high school wideouts, Deon Cain has often played a supporting role during his collegiate career. That is understandable as he’s played behind and alongside players like Artavis Scott, Charone Peake, and Mike Williams, among others.
This was finally the season Cain was due to be the top target, but it coincided with the departure of current Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Although Cain led the team with 734 yards and six touchdowns on 58 receptions, those numbers look similar to his 38/724/9 receiving line from his sophomore season. The Tigers focused on the running game much more this season and that damaged Cain’s production. He has long been presumed to be a three-year player as a former four-star recruit, but now there is some doubt whether he will make the leap.
The 2018 wide receiver class looks like a weak one at the top, so Cain might be wise to declare now and avoid the stacked class of 2019. If he does opt for the NFL, Cain would be another player to consider as high as the middle of the first round, though he’s more of a second-day option for NFL teams.
For a more in-depth look at Cain’s game, check out this profile from Richard Jenkins.
Myles Gaskin, RB Washington
For the third consecutive season, Washington running back Myles Gaskin eclipsed 1,300 rushing yards and easily set a new career best with 21 touchdowns. The Huskies back also upped his receiving numbers each season, though he was not heavily involved in that aspect of the offense.
Gaskin is a solid but unspectacular all-around back, though he lacks speed that many runners in this class possess. Just as the strong 2019 wideout class might persuade Clemson’s Cain to make the leap, the opposite could be true for Gaskin and other backs on the fence about their decision. The upcoming crop of backs has both depth and strength at the top, while Gaskin could be a key option in 2019’s subpar group.
If Gaskin does declare for the draft, he’ll be a day two pick. His landing spot would go a long way in determining his dynasty value, but he could potentially fall as far as the late second round of rookie drafts.
Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama
In yet another ho-hum wide receiver class, Alabama’s Calvin Ridley could be the best option. Ridley is considered the most pro-ready receiver in this potential draft class, but he has yet to make a decision about his plans for the 2018 season. That is understandable since Alabama’s season only concluded this week after winning another National Championship. Although Ridley had a quiet game overall, he did catch a late touchdown that tied the game, capping off the Crimson Tide’s huge second-half comeback.
Ridley has his flaws as well, most notably his age. He will enter the league at 23 years old, making him older than many receivers from not only his class but the previous couple of seasons, as well. Ridley was actually ineligible to finish his high school career because he turned 19 during the season.
There is also some concern about Ridley’s raw numbers as he failed to improve on his impressive freshman season in which he caught 89 balls for over 1,000 yards. Over the past two seasons, the Alabama offense changed and quarterback Jalen Hurts certainly didn’t become known for his passing ability. Due to his age, Ridley is expected to declare and will be a lock for the first round of both the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts.
For a more in-depth look at Ridley’s game, check out this profile from Stephen Gill.
Damien Harris, RB Alabama
Bo Scarbrough, RB Alabama
Okay, I had to cheat a little here, lumping the pair of Alabama backs together. Like Ridley, Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough both delayed their NFL decisions until the completion of their season. Harris finished as the Tide’s leading rusher in each of the past two seasons with at least 1,000 rushing yards both years. It didn’t hurt that he got an extra game as Alabama made the title game in every season of Harris’ career. The knock on Harris during his sophomore season was his touchdown production as he managed just two scores compared to 11 for Scarbrough and 14 for quarterback Jalen Hurts. Harris turned that around this year, leading the team with 11 trips to the end zone.
Scarbrough was actually eligible to make a move to the NFL after last season as a redshirt sophomore and in hindsight, probably should’ve done that. He ended the season on a hot streak, dominating in the late season and bowl games prior to a leg injury. Now, Scarbrough’s numbers dropped across the board and he’s even older than teammate Calvin Ridley.
Both backs would be wise to make the leap this year as Alabama freshman Najee Harris was one of the stars of the title game and is considered by many as the most talented back on the roster, not to mention the constant stream of incoming top recruits.
Damien Harris is a favorite choice of many as the most underrated back in the potential class and he could easily crack the mid-first round of rookie drafts. Bo Scarbrough will be a difficult player to value as some will outright avoid him (including me) but he could still come off the board in the middle of the second round. Both players are candidates for day two of the NFL draft.
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