2017 College Rookie Prospects on the Fantasy Horizon[the_ad id=”63198″]Whether you’re a Dynasty player or not, it’s always fun to take a look at the next crop of talent coming up to speculate on who has the goods for Fantasy stardom. Now not all prospects end up being a Hall-of-Famers or even relevant on Sundays for that matter, I’m looking at you Justin Blackmon, but it’s still an important ritual for every Fantasy owner to dive into.
This article is a break from your usual Fantasy Football routine, as we take a look into the world of College Football as we put our Todd McShay hats on and try to identify some talent to target next season. Let’s take a sneak peek into the 2017 NFL Draft to highlight a few prospects who I think will be fantasy studs for years to come.
1. Christian McCaffrey | RB | Stanford
I had to start with a shout out to a fellow Colorado native! After being named a Heisman Finalist as a Sophomore, McCaffrey decided to return to Stanford for his Junior season. Some have called this a mistake, given how incredibly deep the 2017 Draft Class is at the Running Back position, but McCaffrey is putting together another solid season ( 781 yards and 5 TDs rushing and 207 yards and 2 scores receiving) through 8 games. A good friend of mine called McCaffrey “An upgraded version of Danny Woodhead capable of 20+ touches a game.” -Can you imagine if he’s right?
2. Dalvin Cook | RB | FSU
One of the most exciting players to watch in the College ranks in my opinion. The Seminole superstar has been completely crushing it this season. Cook ran for 169 yards and 4 TDs… in one game… on 19 carries! And it wasn’t against a “tune up” school most play in the beginning of the season, it was against Clemson none-the-less. If that doesn’t scream Fantasy potential, then I don’t know what does.
3. Jamaal Williams | RB | BYU[the_ad id=”58835″]Williams isn’t the highest projected player in next years’ draft, possibly due to some injuries and off the field concerns. But it’s definitely not for lack of talent. In a recent article by Chad Reuter, Draft Analyst for NFL.com, Williams was said to have a similar running style to Eric Dickerson. That’s one heck of an endorsement. But when I watch Williams run I can’t help but agree. But it’s just not his running style that has me excited about Williams, he has the production to back up the praise.
In a recent overtime battle between Mississippi State Williams earned the rights to the All-Time Rushing Leader for BYU. He still has at least 4 more games to build upon that record. Sky’s the limit with this guy, talent wise.
4. Aaron Jones | RB | UTEP
Jones is an interesting addition to the list. He is currently not projected as a 2017 Draft prospect but that doesn’t matter, talent plus opportunity will always beat out draft pedigree. Just ask Arian Foster and CJ Anderson both of whom were undrafted coming out of college and have had successful Fantasy careers (and real NFL, I guess that sort of matters). Jones is on pace to finish out the 2016 season with 1,400 rushing yards and 13 scores. A season like that will definitely put him on the radar for NFL Scouts. He could be something special if given the chance.
5. Deshaun Watson | QB | Clemson
Before the National Title game between Clemson and Alabama last year, Nick Saban told ESPN that Watson was the best player in College Football since Cam Newton. Very high praise from arguably the best Coach the college game has ever seen. While his numbers are down a little compared to last year. Watson is still the fuel to the Clemson fire that currently sits at #2 with an 8-0 record. He is projected as the #2 QB off the board for the 2017 draft. So, there is a good chance he’s going to land with a team who needs a star QB. I just can’t wait to see how bright this star shines next season.[the_ad id=”65749″]
6. Mike Williams | WR | Clemson
Although he sat out most of the 2015 season with a neck injury. Williams has made his return to the gridiron (pun intended) a most impressive one. He opened the 2016 season with 9 catches for 174 yards against Auburn. In a recent interview with NFL.com, one Exec commented on Williams’ style, “long, athletic, and smooth… has outstanding body control.” When I hear that description another stud receiver named Mike comes to mind. Mike Evans that is. Coincidentally, both Williams and Evans have posted similar marks through 8 games so far. Williams has a slight edge in catches and yards 46-648 compared to Evans’ 44- 595 line. But the pro has the edge over the Clemson standout in touchdowns with 6 up against Williams’ 4 currently.
7. Isaiah Ford | WR | VT
In Sticking with the ACC theme, Ford is another guy I’m excited to see suit up on Sunday’s. This season for the Hokies Ford has put together a strong campaign reeling in 46 catches 648 yards and 6 TDs. That puts him on pace for back to back 1,100 receiving 10 touchdown seasons. That type of consistency with very different systems is quite Emmanuel Sanders-ish. While Ford has a more prototypical NFL Receiver body at 6-2 190 than Sanders. His similar ability to make the contested catch and then make something happen after the catch will have Fantasy owners salivating in 2017.
Thanks for reading! Leave me a comment below… who’d I leave out?
Tanner is a Colorado Native and 3rd generation Denver Broncos season ticket holder. He grew up on a Cattle Ranch in North East Colorado. He began playing Fantasy Football in ’08 while attending College at the University of Northern Colorado, and has been a Dynasty player since 2012. Tanner resides in the Colorado Springs area where he is an avid fisherman/hiker and enjoys pretty much anything outdoors (like most Coloradans). He has been married to his wonderful wife, Nicole since June 2014. And they are expecting a beautiful baby girl January 2017. Tanner has recently taken up Home Brewing, and if he doesn’t blow anything up, aspires to own his own Brewery someday.