National Championship Game Recap: Fantasy Analysis
For football fans, the offseason is closer than we’d like to admit. We’re days away from the AFC and NFC Championship games, which means there are only three more NFL games (that matter) before a long offseason drought. Sometimes in the spring, the NFL Network will re-air great games from the previous season, and if you’re like me, you tune in to watch them. After the near comeback in the Jaguars-Steelers game and the absolutely thrilling finish to the Vikings-Saints game on Sunday, it’s safe to say those two playoff contests should be added to the “must-see again” list. But if anyone is taking suggestions for games that need to be watched again, I would start with the National Championship game between the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia. That game involved some great performances, a stellar comeback, and a fantastic finish. Fantasy Football owners may also want to watch it again as there are at least 6 skilled players that should be drafted in May.
The following is an early NFL Draft preview of 6 Fantasy Football rookies from the National Championship you should take note of.
Calvin Ridley | WR Alabama
Current NFL Draft Projection: First Round
Ridley is one of the top crops in what will be a stacked wide receiver class in 2018. He was the top receiver for Alabama this season with a whopping 63 receptions, 967 yards, and five touchdowns and will look to take that success with him to the next level. While he may lack the size of a prototypical NFL wide receiver at 6’ 1” and 190 pounds, his speed, and route running skills make him elite. Ridley averaged 15 yards per reception this season, meaning he was able to make a lot of big plays and will be able to in the NFL. While he had a rough night in the National Championship (four receptions for 32 yards and one touchdown), Ridley showed resilience in the face of a quarterback change in the biggest game of the season. The touchdown he caught was from backup Tua Tagovailoa and shows he can adapt to new situations and still be productive.
He is currently projected to go in the first round of the NFL draft and even has a realistic chance to go in the top ten. A good fit for Ridley in the top ten would be either Chicago at the eighth overall or San Francisco at ninth overall. Both teams have a young quarterback on teams who are lacking playmakers on the outside. Ridley would provide an over-the-top big-play ability that those teams need to stretch the field and take their offense to the next level. If he falls out of the top ten, Ridley would likely be snatched up by a team in the middle of the first round who is needy at wideout like Baltimore or Dallas.
Fantasy Outlook: Ridley would best benefit from a situation where he would be among one of the first reads in the offense. If this happens, look for him to have a solid season and make up for the disappointment that high pick wide receivers left us with this season (Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross, etc.). If Ridley is drafted by a team with other options at wide receiver, look for him to be more of a dynasty hold that could blossom after some time maturing in the team’s offense.
Nick Chubb | RB Georgia
Current NFL Draft Projection: Second Round
As a part of the best running back duo in college football this season, Chubb and Michel are both players that can take their talents to the NFL. For Chubb, he is the thunder to Michel’s lightning. His powerful running style leads to punishment for those attempting to tackle him while also having a great amount of speed. Chubb has been through a lot in his career in Georgia, from being stuck behind Todd Gurley early in his career to his very severe knee injury in 2015. He bounced back as the team’s leading rusher in 2017 with 1345 yards on 223 rushing attempts and 15 touchdowns. While Chubb had a bad game in Atlanta with less than 25 yards from scrimmage, it does not diminish his overall season and will not hurt his NFL Draft stock.
Chubb is projected as a second-round selection and will look to be an impact player on a team needing help in the backfield. There are several teams that could use him as an early-down running back with every-down potential. Some teams that would make sense for Chubb would be the Giants at the 34th pick, Tampa at pick 38 or the Lions at the 51st pick.
Fantasy Outlook: Chubb has a very good chance of being a fantasy relevant asset next season. His skill set will help him gain a role on whichever team he is selected by and will get him on the field quicker and more often. He will be a good running back to hold onto in dynasty and will be a high selection in any rookie startup draft.
Sony Michel | RB Georgia
Current NFL Draft Projection: Second Round
The counterpart to Chubb in the Georgia duo, the lightning if you will, is Michel. Michel is a speed back who is shifty and can take almost any run to the house. He, like Chubb, has faced his fair share of injuries and competition in his career at Georgia but has been a good compliment running back this season. While he was second on the team in most rushing categories, Michel had the best game of any running back in the National Championship game with 98 yards on 14 rushes. Michel looked explosive in this game, especially so on his 26 yard run in the first quarter that helped set up a Georgia field goal.
As a draft prospect, Michel is also projected to be a second-round selection but is slotted to later than his former teammate. Michel can help bring top-end speed to a team that is looking for it and would be a good fit for the Bills at pick 56, the Patriots at 63 or even the Lions at 51 if Chubb is not selected there.
Fantasy Outlook: Michel will likely land in a situation where he will have to compete with other running backs for playing time. He will be selected as a player who can bring speed to the offense but may struggle to get effective playing time in the beginning of 2018. He is a player to grab late in rookie drafts and hold onto in case of injury or a few consecutive solid games.
Javon Wims | WR Georgia
Current NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round
Wims was the leading wide receiver for the Bulldogs this season with 45 receptions for 720 yards and seven touchdowns and was a huge factor in helping the progression of Jake Fromm. Wims may have only played two seasons for Georgia, but he leaves the school having left a big impact on the teams he was on an will look to do the same in the NFL. Wims was only able to get one reception for 16 yards in the National Championship game but was out for a majority of the game due to a foot injury he suffered early on. I don’t expect this to have a hampering effect going forward and will not damage his draft potential.
He is projected to go later in the draft than his Bulldog teammates as a fourth-round selection. Wims has the frame (6’ 4” and 215 pounds) to attract the eyes of scouts and could be a steal late in the draft if he continues to develop. Some teams that have needs at wide receiver and could look to take a flier on Wims would be the Jets at the 103rd overall selection, Seattle at 116 overall or Kansas City at 118.
Fantasy Outlook: Wims will likely not make a fantasy impact on 2018 as he will have to work his way up the depth chart to get a relevant amount of playing time next season. He would back a good stash candidate as someone who could have an impact later on in his career but is not much more than that in the immediate future.
Bo Scarbrough | RB Alabama
Current NFL Draft Projection: Fourth Round
Scarbrough has always had a role in the Alabama backfield but has never been the lead dog. He has been in the shadow of backs like Derrick Henry, Kenyon Drake and even his teammate Damien Harris. He was covered in the National Championship game as well, only getting four carries for 23 yards (16 of which came on one rush). Still, Scarbrough has played well when he needs to and has been able to make an impact in his time in Tuscaloosa.
There has been some buzz about Scarbrough and where he could go in the draft and what he could do in the NFL. Most projections have him going in the fifth round, meaning he would certainly be in a position where he would have to compete with other backs for playing time. But his size (6’ 2” and 235 pounds) and strength would give him an advantage over other backs that like the mass that Scarbrough has. Teams that could use a bruising back at the end of the draft could be Seattle at either 132nd or 137th overall, Detroit at 144 (if they don’t address this need earlier) or Carolina at 152.
Fantasy Outlook: Scarbrough will have some challenges ahead of him if he wants to be fantasy relevant in 2018. He will likely have to compete for not only a spot in the running back rotation but potentially for a spot on the roster. However, it is not unheard of for a fifth-round running back to make a fantasy impact as a rookie (see Aaron Jones).If Scarbrough ends up on one of the teams listed, he could carve his way into their rotation as a big early down power back. Either way, he is just a stash and hold at this point and is someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Robert Foster | WR Alabama
Current NFL Draft Projection: Seventh Round
When Foster was recruited back in 2013, he was one of the best wide receivers in the entire country. In fact, he was the #2 wide receiver in that class behind only Laquon Treadwell and was ranked as the 23rd overall recruit. Naturally, Foster took his talents to Tuscaloosa and looked to make in impact for the Crimson Tide. Unfortunately for Foster, he never quite stuck out in Alabama and his career there has been marred by injuries (a major shoulder injury in 2015) and inconsistency. His talent still shines through on certain plays and situations, but overall Foster has been a letdown at Alabama given his pedigree. In the National Championship game, he was only able to produce three catches for 28 yards, but like Ridley that had a lot to do with the quarterback change and a lack of reps with Tagovailoa.
Foster is a senior this year and will likely make himself available for the NFL Draft. There is not a lot of buzz surrounding Foster and he is currently projected to be a late selection in the draft with the realistic possibility of going undrafted. While he may have some question marks surrounding him, you cannot ignore his size (6’ 2” and 194 pounds) and speed when he is on the field. He still has that five-star talent in there and could be a steal if he were to land in the right opportunity and be brought up the right way. Teams like Arizona at 207th overall, Carolina at 213 or 216 overall or Cincinnati at 223rd overall would be good spots for him to be around veteran players that can help aid him in his development and unlock his full potential to the NFL.
Fantasy Outlook: Foster is a deep, deep stash for dynasty owners who are looking for the home-run type of talent that is off the radar. If he can land somewhere that can reach him and give him what he needs to be successful, I have no doubts that he could eventually be a fantasy relevant wide receiver but he won’t be one in 2018.
Brandon Sysak is an staff writer for Gridiron Experts. I have been covering different aspects of the NFL, fantasy football and the NFL Draft since 2017. I am originally from Midland, MI but now reside in the Cincinnati, OH area. I began my career with Gridiron Experts covering the 2017 College Football National Championship.