It should go without saying that this list, and these rankings, will obviously change. Dynasty is ever-evolving; devy gamers generally have the edge, in my opinion, having been exposed to these prospects dating back to high school in some cases. Closely monitoring and following their development throughout the college ranks allows for a much cleaner and confident approach when rookie drafts finally hit.
I let my “current” top-10 list out of the bag already, as you can see (if you missed the initial tweet and conversation that followed). Again, this is preliminary in a sense that we are still now waiting for offseason activities such as the Combine, where final athleticism and test scores certainly matter (perhaps more to me than others, but however you weigh them, we need to make sure these types of numbers are factored into final evaluations).
Let’s review the top-10, with a little more context than previously provided in that tweet with a picture of a notepad and some names.
Note: I guess it’s worth disclaiming here that I pulled the player’s heights and weights from their Sports Reference CFB pages. No idea how accurate those are, and really, they are just reference points for now. We don’t really care about these numbers until they got official in Indianapolis, at the Combine.
WR1 Ja’Marr Chase, Louisiana State
Junior; 6-0, 208-lbs.
There really shouldn’t be much of an argument here, but I guess there is?
More and more, I’ve seen a player other than Chase ahead at the WR1-spot.
Doesn’t make sense to me.
I suppose it’s his absence this year, preferring to opt out and prepare for the draft due to COVID-19; maybe everyone is just forgetting just how dominant he really is?
A 19-year old Freddy B. award-winner with all the refined elements to his game that we look for certainly should pass the film grinder test. On the numbers-side of things, production-wise, he filled the box score handsomely back in 2019 and broke-out during his sophomore season: 84-1780-20. Twenty (20) scores. Two zero. That’s alot. Like, really a lot.
I remember having the great Russell Clay on one of THE BREAKOUT FINDER pods last year as we were looking at the ’20 rookie class more in-depth, and were were discussing Jerry Jeudy’s prospects. Now, we know things in Denver haven’t quite taken off yet, and there was certainly a legitimate argument between Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb for WR1, but the message that our guy Clay laid out was simple:
Sometimes, we don’t need to see anymore; sometimes this stuff is easy.
He was of course talking about Jeudy’s dazzling sophomore season where he dropped a cozy 68-1315-14 line. We saw the special feet and all the work down the field (19.3 yards per reception), and his ability after the catch. The tape was there, as was the production. It didn’t take a lot of “studying” or “analysis” to know that Jeudy was a good prospect, arguably the premiere prospect at his position — just like there shouldn’t be much debate about Chase’s talent and his rightful claim to the top spot.
Sometimes, drafting doesn’t have to be hard.
Oh, one more thing: We’re going to mention our proprietary metrics like TEAMMATE SCORE and DYNAMIC SCORE and LEVEL OF COMPETITION throughout this piece quite a bit. The idea here is that we want to dip our toes in the water, and get a feel for how these prospects will eventually grade out, and how THE BREAKOUT FINDER will view them.
Players like Chase, who played with legit, early-round NFL talent will obviously score high TEAMMATE SCORE-wise. Additionally, players like Chase who face an SEC schedule and opponents will obviously score high LEVEL OF COMPETITION-wise, as well. If I fail to hit on these metrics for every player, a couple of them will be easy enough to draw reasonable conclusions for. The glossary of terms can always be found here.
WR2 Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Junior; 5-10, 182-lbs.
We talk about a player like Chase, who has a clear path and claim to the WR1 crown, and how many of the other names that are being put in his “tier” really don’t belong there.
I don’t think that was the case for Waddle, who is sadly lost for the year; an ascending player having a spectacular campaign that could’ve ended with WR1 honors. He’s that good. He belonged in that tier and conversation.
Now we wait and see, and hope/assume the recovery goes as smoothly as possible. This is a player who was seen neck-and-neck (or stride-for-stride, or something) with Henry Ruggs in foot race; Waddle has 4.2-something in the forty-yard dash in his range of outcomes.
We saw plenty of his speed on display prior to the injury, but much like Ruggs, I believe that Waddle possess a complete skill set coming out of school. THE BREAKOUT FINDER will surely like his prospects, as we anticipate he’ll score very high TEAMMATE SCORE-wise, having shared the field with guys like Ruggs, and [Jerry] Jeudy, and a player we’ll talk about more below.
Further context to the kind of career Jaylen Waddle has had for @AlabamaFTBL— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) October 30, 2020
-3 career receiving TD’s of 80+ yards, most in Alabama history
-3 career kick return TD’s, most in SEC over last 3 seasons
-leads FBS in receiving YAC
-tied for FBS lead with four 100-yd rec games
WR3 Rondale Moore, Purdue
Redshirt Sophomore; 5-9, 180-lbs.
I’m very excited for all the Moore-related discussion. Mainly because I love instigating shit.
He’s clearly a game-breaker of sorts on the field, and we expect his TEAMMATE SCORE to be decent given the presense of stud wideout and Purdue’s true WR1 in David Bell (hashtag my guy). We also anticipate a notable DYNAMIC SCORE, given Moore’s impact all over the field (24-216-2 out of the backfield as a runner, 42-813-0 on career kick returns to this point and 17-118-0 on career punt returns). We’ve found the DYNAMIC SCORE as the most predictive metric; turns out, good players get the ball often and in creative ways.
Now, it’s worth noting that Moore does have an injury history that will certainly play a part in his evaluation. He’s currently missing time, mysteriously at that. In addition to the injury question marks, there will be discussion around his build: He’s not the tallest or the biggest, and while we know that size isn’t a skill, we do need to factor everything in when talking about a projection to the next level.
I’ve seen rankings all over the place for Moore, many of which still place him inside the top-2 or so for this class. Checking in as my WR3 shouldn’t seem egregious, but I’m sure some will take offense. He’s a great player, but I think as we’ll see throughout this list, it speaks more to the talent at the top of this class (again, much like 2020) as a whole. Lots of options and players you can make arguments for.
WR4 Seth Williams, Auburn
Junior; 6-3, 211-lbs.
Now this is a name, unlike the top three, that may seem “out of place”. I hope that narrative dies hard the deeper we get into the season, and eventual offseason. Williams has been a favorite for some time, so I’m still riding high off of some previous biases, so WR4 may seem outlandish for some.
I can’t help myself; I like the big bodied, physical bullies at the postion as much as I like the smaller, quick-footed, shiftier pass-catchers.
Williams is a threat both downfield and in the air. For those that live-and-die by metrics like MARKET SHARE and DOMINATOR RATING etc., Williams is going to check those boxes with black Sharpie ink.
WR5 Chris Olave, Ohio State
Junior; 6-1, 188-lbs.
Like Williams, Olave is another player I’m very comfortable with, and a player I fully expect to be higher on versus “consensus” (whatever that is).
Olave will check the TEAMMATE SCORE box, having played with NFL players in Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell back in 2018, his FR season, and standout freshman Garrett Wilson his SO season in 2019. Now, in 2020, for his JR campaign, he’s again opposite the rising Wilson with the addition of young play-makers in Julian Fleming and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Ohio State has a tendency to keep the wide receiver room packed with talent; in addition to an always-challenging Big Ten schedule (read: LEVEL OF COMPETITION), Olave might be a player THE BREAKOUT FINDER likes despite the lack of special teams impact.
Olave was a former three-star, and 2018’s WR68 as a recruit. Out of high school, he registered 4.73 forty and a 34.5 vertical, neither metric particularly impressive, but worth noting given the type of player we see on the field today. This is someone who has clearly elevated, both as a technician at the position and athletically, which is what we want to see ultimately: Growth.
In addition to a notable SO season where he dropped 48-840-12, we have the makings of an “underrated player” who will likely “rise” during the offseason process.
WR6 Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
Junior; 6-2, 210-lbs.
What many tend to gravitate towards and perhaps weigh more heavily is sophomore (SO) year production; we’re looking for the second-year leap with our pass-catchers. I’ve highlight plenty of sophomore lines already.
Bateman provided that and then some with a scorching 60-1219-11 line (and good for 20.3 yards per reception) when the season concluded, much like [Seth] Williams and [Rondale] Moore, those who lean toward raw counting stats and production, they’re going to like Bateman a good bit. In fact, most of the feedback I received on my initial posting (tweeting) of this top-10 list was from folks that were surprised that Bateman wasn’t comfortably inside the top-5.
At 6-2, 210, I don’t necessarily expect Bateman to “wow” athletically, but I don’t think his eventual scores will hurt him much, either. Watching him on Saturday’s, we’ve seen him do plenty after the catch; he certainly looks explosive enough at times. It’ll be interesting to see where he comes in TEAMMATE SCORE-wise, having played alongside Draft Twitter (and Fantasy Twitter, to an extent) darling Tyler Johnson. He is currently rostered with junior Chris Autman-Bell, who I think will eventually play on Sunday’s himself (registered 5 scroes in 2019).
WR7 Amon-Ra St. Brown, Southern California
Junior; 6-1, 195-lbs.
Another player that likely is checking-in higher for me versus where you have him ranked, St. Brown is a prospect I’ve again followed closely since his Under Armour All-American days. As such, and much like Williams, it’ll take a little while to shake this fandom when/if things start to dip south.
For now, I remain high on St. Brown’s profile heading to the league:
His college career to this point has been all over the map. Not counting the Pac-12’s delayed start due to COVID-19 of course, there’s been a quarterback shakeup for the Trojans (one could easily argue Kedon Slovis was a notable upgrade over J.T. Daniels, but the high school teammate narrative was going to pay dividends for St. Brown, too). On a shortened season, the hope is St. Brown and the offense settle in quickly, and the fireworks follow very shortly thereafter.
For those that remember St. Brown’s brother, Equanimeous St. Brown (now of the Green Bay Packers; formerly Notre Dame, and a late-round selection) know the family’s history and hashtag bloodlines. Pops was legit Mr. World, two older brothers are/were Division 1 football players (and both suggest that the younger St. Brown is easily the most talented of the group). Subheading: They’re athletic and fit.
Sitting around 6-1, 196, St. Brown looks the part; no concerns there. I am anticipating above average marks Combine-wise. He has a 77 reception, over 1000-yard sophomore season under his belt. What’s more, he’s gone 9-69-1 on the ground as a runner, and has mixed it up very lightly on special teams (13-75-0 for his career on punt returns). DYNAMIC SCORE should be there as things currently sit, and if the Trojans deploy him more creatively in some contests this year, we’ll simply add to this resume.
Meet ‘the LaVar Ball of college football’, whose youngest son is determined to live up to the hype at USC
Privately, John says Amon-ra “could play in the NFL right now.” But in the car, with him in earshot, John sings a different tune.
WR8 Terrace Marshall Jr., Louisiana State
Junior; 6-3, 200-lbs.
Marshall will likely be a riser for me, but for now, he checks in at the 8-spot (again, speaks volumes about the class itself).
This should be a pretty straightforward evaluation: His teammate (Chase) sits at the top. He played with both him and current Vikings’ rookie difference-maker Justin Jefferson on the 2019 National Championship squad and managed a cool 46-671-13 score season (touchdowns were not very difficult to come by with Joey Burrow and Joe Brady dialing things up, but still impressive nevertheless given who surrounded him — the TEAMMATE SCORE will illuminate that more so for y’all, as you already know).
The former five-star recruit and 2018’s no. 3 overall wide receiver prospect looks prototypical at 6-3, 200. He’s already notched 9 scores in 5 games. And while this isn’t the 2019 offense by any means, with certified superstar Chase opting out, Marshall has gotten the opportunity to showcase what he can do as a feature player. Expect the production to keep piling up, and with a strong Combine, the higher draft position will surely follow.
WR9 DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Senior; 6-1, 175-lbs.
Smith opted to return for his senior season in Tuscaloosa. The current Alabama squad, and the teammates he has seen come-and-go in four years is the reason why THE BREAKOUT FINDER and metrics like the TEAMMATE SCORE exists:
In 2017, also rostered with Smith: Ruggs, Jeudy, Robert Foster, and Calvin Ridley.
In 2018: Ruggs, Jeudy, and Waddle.
In 2019: Another season of that trio, and now enter John Metchie III (only 4 receptions then, but we know the talent he is emerging into now).
In 2020: WR1-challenger in Waddle, and now-rising sophomore Metchie.
Smith is reliable as hell. Some will focus on and knock the build (6-1, 175), but his signal-caller’s past and present have not shied away from Smith in dicey situations. We’ll see that more so this season than ever before, with the unfortunate Waddle injury, as Smith now wears the de facto WR1 crown for the Tide.
While he didn’t breakout his sophomore season, ending “with only” a 42-693-6 line to his name, I’m okay looking down the road. Rather, 2019’s junior season was the story for Smith, and a reason many figured him to be a surefire declare for the ’20 NFL Draft: 68-1256-14, running alongside three future NFL players. That’s notable, and that’s why the TEAMMATE SCORE matters.
WR10 Tamorrion Terry, Florida State
Junior; 6-4, 210-lbs.
The last player on my top-10, and another player my bias entering the season will not let me quit. More of a projection, given just how underwhelming the entire Florida State team is/has been, but also the missed time to start the ’20 season with a knee procedure. The good news is that Terry is slated to return, back appearing on the Seminoles’ depth chart as of early-November.
We’ll keep it simple with Terry: He’s a big receiver at 6-4, 210, with legit lid-lifting wheels, projected to run somewhere in the high 4.3’s or 4.4’s, assuming he’s healthy. Being that big, and that fast, isn’t fair. The comparison is not D.K. Metcalf, as Terry isn’t that level of strong, but we’ve seen the benefits of being a size-speed freak. I could envision Terry having a similar impact.
I remain interested.
Terry “falls down” further in these rankings, and likely in the eyes of THE BREAKOUT FINDER, due to the absence of rushing and/or special teams work, and what will likely also be a poor/nonexistent TEAMMATE SCORE. Still, we’ve seen players rise above these metrics, but they’re normally just not players we tend to gravitate towards, at least not high in the rankings.
Best of the rest (also known as the “they probably made your list” list). These are in no particular order, but likely deserve our attention for various reasons:
Tutu Atwell, Louisville (5-9, 165): This year’s K.J. Hamler?
Dyami Brown, North Carolina (6-1, 185): Rising marketshare and dominator rating profiles.
Justyn Ross, Clemson (6-4, 205): Stud freshman that splashed, now recovering from the scary spinal injury.
Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State (6-0, 190): One-time fantasy/devy darling who unfortunately got banged up last season, as well.
Sage Surratt, Wake Forest (6-3, 215): Elite contested catch play-maker.