Fantasy football is an inexact science. Numerous factors can conspire to make even the surest of things an uber-bust (looking at you, Trent Richardson). Take this one level down to the college ranks, and you’re really engaging in a mostly futile exercise which involves interpreting how college talent translates to the NFL. This leads to an incredibly high bust rate and immortalizes individuals like Jamie Harper in the Hall of Disappointment.
This is the third annual installment of The Devy 100, an endeavor which embraces the Sisyphus-esque journey known as a devy league. Rather than a standard, mundane numbered list, this breaks 100 players into tiers. As an ode to recruiting rankings, they’ve been assigned a star ranking. A brief description of each star ranking and how I perceive them below:
- Five Star: The elite. They look poised to become high NFL draft picks and have the skills to become annual fantasy contributors.
- Four Star: These are potentially elite players. They just have one flaw – be it inexperience, modest physical tools, or limited production – which prevents them from joining the top tier.
- Three Star: These are individuals I would not be actively pursuing in standard, smaller devy leagues. However, in larger leagues they merit a roster spot and at the least they’re someone worth monitoring.
There are, of course, players who don’t fit any of these criteria but we’re not talking about them in an article. We continue with four star players at quarterback and wide receiver.
Josh Rosen, QB UCLA Bruins
The coronation of the “Rosen One” could not have gone more to script for UCLA fans. The true freshman was named the starter prior to the season opener and dazzled the nation with poise and physical tools well beyond his years. There were certainly some growing pains – including a three interception first half against BYU – but when it comes to young signal callers you’re mostly looking for what they can do and not what they still have yet to do. What Josh Rosen can do is impressive and it showed as he routinely dropped catchable footballs into tight windows, demonstrating elite accuracy and a toolbox inundated with plus attributes. Assuming he does not embark upon the Hackenberg development curve, he is perhaps devy’s top quarterback prospect and has made the Rosen versus Town debate on the recruiting trail look laughable.
O.J. Howard, TE Alabama Crimson Tide
You have likely gotten use to the refrain: “If only Alabama used O.J. Howard more.” He’s long been a ballyhooed devy prospect despite limited production in the Tide’s run-heavy/funnel through one receiver offense. The positives with Howard are obvious; he is huge, has excellent speed for a tight end and is a capable blocker. While he can be a little gun-shy over the middle and has yet to really dominate in jump ball situations, he does have the ability to really thrive in third down and red zone situations. He is far from a perfect player, but he’s got a ton of physical ability and still has ample room to grow.
Jordan Leggett, TE Clemson Tigers
It is easy to forget about Jordan Leggett when watching Clemson’s offense. You have the flash of Deshaun Watson; the power of Wayne Gallman. However, the Tigers offense lost their red zone dynamo when Mike Williams went down for the season in the opener, and it was Leggett who emerged as best red zone weapon the team possessed. The clichéd too big for safeties, too fast for linebackers tight end, the junior served as an elite safety valve and vacuumed up seemingly every pass with strong mitts; he uses his frame extremely well in space. He’s been one of the nation’s most improved players during the course of his career and continued ascension could land him in day two in 2017.
DeShone Kizer, QB Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Were it not for an untimely injury to Malik Zaire, we would be far less familiar with DeShone Kizer. Zaire’s hot start had him looking like the ideal trigger man in Brian Kelly’s offense, leaving Kizer as apprentice for several seasons. As we see annually, fate can spark a change in someone’s fortunes almost instantly and it called upon Kizer in 2015. With one of the better deep balls in the nation, he can stretch the field vertically and smooth mechanics allow him to methodically eviscerate defenses underneath. It is no secret I am a huge Kizer backer (ask anyone in devy leagues with me) and even if he loses out to Malik Zaire in a training camp battle he is still one of the position’s elite assets.
Bucky Hodges, TE Virginia Tech Hokies
Bucky Hodges took the path many implored Logan Thomas to travel, switching from dual-treat high school quarterback to jumbo tight end. The 6-foot-7, 242 pound Hodges is supremely athletic and can simply toy with defenders thanks to his sheer mass and leaping ability. As you’d expect from someone still learning the position, he has bouts of inconsistency with his hands. His biggest weakness may be his unwillingness to get nasty; he could bully defenders with his size yet often plays passive, which prevents him from truly taking the next step. If he does add a little vinegar to his game, he could be an elite weapon at the next level, and even as is he is an intriguing blend of skills and true mismatch nightmare.
Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson Tigers
There’s little Deshaun Watson has left to prove at the collegiate level. He’s been a Heisman contender, an elite producer, and nearly carried his team to a championship with a yeoman effort against Alabama. Questions linger about his ability to translate to the next level, though I am bullish on him thanks to his ability to escape the pocket, his accuracy, and his willingness to fire throws into tight windows. He has a slight build and lacks elite arm strength; there’s also concerns about the Clemson offense and how it will assist his pro-style progression. Those, however, are minor blips in my eyes, and Watson is an early favorite to go No. 1 in 2017.
Jake Butt, TE Michigan Wolverines
There’s a theme with the tight ends on this list: they’re big and they can move. It is not a secret formula, yet it is one which has proven effective time and time again. Jake Butt is one of a few prospects who could have been the first tight end off the board this year, yet elected to return. He thrived under Jim Harbaugh, hauling in 51 receptions for 654 yards and three touchdowns while doing work in the blocking game. He’s tough over the middle and has some of the strongest hands in the nation, all which add up to him being an elite tight end prospect.