Draft day has come and gone. Draft season however, never ends. Time to get on board for next year. Before the season gets started, before lineups need to be set, before trades need to be made, before championships need to be won, it is time to do your homework on next year’s possible rookies. Oh, and while you’re there, why don’t you check out the 2020 eligible draftees? Sound like a lot of work? Well that’s what I’ve been up to and what I will continue to work on until (and let’s be honest, throughout) the season. Ladies and gentlemen, for your reading pleasure, a quick Devy player update. And as always, tell me what you think, tell me how wrong I am, or ask me to expound upon my below pontifications.
Anthony Johnson – WR – Buffalo – Senior – 6’2” 207 lbs
2017 Stats – 76 receptions for 1356 yards and 14! Touchdowns
Anthony Johnson is not hyped enough headed into this year. He obviously killed it last year racking up those numbers. He is a quality deep threat with top end speed and burst.
He profiles well as an athlete and he looks the part on film. The production is fabulous, but there is a reason that he is a this low at this point in the process. The skills are all there, but the same was true with Antonio Callaway. The path to where we are now concerns me. A stint in Junior College is almost always a red flag. He has worked his way back and that can’t be taken away from him.
It will be interesting to see where the NFL values him as that will likely affect my feelings on his chances at the next level. I am certainly not writing him off completely, but another clean season with elite level production will do wonders for his NFL and fantasy draft stock. The level of competition is low so the production will need to remain in that elite range to raise his stock much for me.
Bryce Love – RB – Stanford – Senior – 5’10” 196 lbs
2017 Stats – 263 carries for 2118 yards and 19 touchdowns, 6 receptions for 33 yards
Bryce Love might be the most recognizable name in this class. He is a pre-season Heisman candidate and he is very likely to repeat a big time rushing line behind a strong offensive line for Stanford.
I don’t love Love as you can see by my rankings of 10 overall in this class. He is a solid player, but I think staying in school hurts his fantasy value overall for me. He will be another year older and I don’t think he will given a chance to prove much that he hasn’t already shown with the way the offense is run. He only had 6 receptions last year and hasn’t had significant receiving volume since he was a freshman and played a much smaller role overall. He made some big plays in the receiving game as a freshman, but volume and efficiency in that area have gone down each year.
I expect another big season on the ground and another lackluster one through the air which doesn’t do much for me in terms of a high level fantasy running back. He may be able to catch balls at the next level, but unless we see some more of that this year, I will not be as high on Love as many others will.
Damien Harris – RB – Alabama – Senior – 5’11” 221 lbs
2017 Stats – 135 carries for 1000 yards and 11 touchdowns, 12 receptions for 91 yards
Damien Harris is a pretty well-known name as well due to a strong showing last season and the fact that he was eligible to declare for the 2018 draft.
Many have already done their homework on him and Bryce Love, but in case you haven’t. Harris is not an Eddie Lacy, Derrick Henry, Bo Scarbrough type of back that often hold the starting job at Alabama. He is quicker and shiftier, though not quite as strong or powerful. He is still a formidable size but he doesn’t play the game like a battering ram. He is very efficient with his touches behind a strong offensive line. He has good vision and a good understanding of his scheme and responsibilities.
We should see a solid year from him even with Najee Harris (who is a blue chip type prospect) and Josh Jacobs breathing down his neck. A strong year with that kind of competition would really move him up my board.
Noah Fant – TE – Iowa – Junior – 6’5” 232 lbs
2017 Stats – 30 receptions for 494 yards and 11! Touchdowns
Fant is the only prospect on this list that I have had the privilege to watch live. Akrum Wadley stole the show with over 200 yards against my Boilermakers, but Fant did have a pretty nice touchdown catch in the red zone.
Fant is a red zone monster as evidenced by the 11 touchdowns on 30 receptions. That is certainly an unsustainable clip, but don’t be surprised when he puts up double-digit touchdowns again in a larger role. Fant has also shown blocking as a strength even for a his slighter size. I like him as much as I liked OJ Howard and he was my 1.07 last year. He is a very complete player at tight end who can stay on the field in all situations. I like him as a Zach Ertz type of player with good athleticism and strong receiving traits, but also the ability to block and willing to do whatever is asked of him.
He is a high character kid who I like a lot. For more on Fant and a fun back and forth between him and LJ Chaney of the Dynasty Football Factory check out the interview with Fant from episode 29 of the Devy Watch podcast here.