2018 East-West Shrine Game: Fantasy Football Review

Jan 22, 2018

Blake Mack might have the athleticism needed to become a fantasy factor in the NFL

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Not much of an offensive game, per se…14-10 final with one of the two TDs coming off a sack/fumble returned for a defensive TD. A couple of players helped their NFL Draft momentum with their game performance, but most of the rise for players came during the practice week.

Considering their entire week and the performances in-game, and looking at it from a dynasty/fantasy football perspective – I am looking at the top five guys I think improved their draft stock and have the best chance of mattering for fantasy football in 2018 and beyond. Before we look at my top five fantasy prospects from the E-W game/week, a quick note on a few other prospects who helped/hurt their draft stock this East-West week.

None of the quarterback prospects helped themselves this week.

J.T. Barrett didn’t do anything to change the narrative that he’s ‘not an NFL QB.’

— I have no idea why some are ranking Memphis’ Riley Ferguson as a top eight QB prospect. He showed that he doesn’t have the arm or passing abilities for the next level. Any draft momentum he had faded away this week.

— Sam Houston State’s two-time Walter Payton Award winner, Jeremiah Briscoe, did nothing to disprove he’s just a big arm with no touch…one-of-six passing, and a key lost fumble on a scoring drive. He was so off/nervous that even game commentators were getting sarcastic about his award-winning background compared to his total inability to complete a pass in this game. Briscoe didn’t throw a pick but did hit two defenders right in the hands, however, they couldn’t make the catch. He shattered any hope of getting taken seriously in the NFL Draft.

— Three defensive linemen with impressive NFL physique and athleticism packages – Bilal Nichols (Delaware), Kentavius Street (NC State), and Chad Thomas (Miami, Fla.) – all saw their draft stock rise from the eye test.

— Old Dominion RB Ray Lawry was a late add to the game due to an injury, and he led the East in rushing (seven carries for 38 yards) and showed an Austin Ekeler-like pop. That draws attention from all the scouts.

The top five dynasty-fantasy players to watch coming out of the 2018 East-West Shrine game…

5) Blake Mack (TE – Arkansas State)
Only caught one pass in the game itself but showed nice speed/movement as a tight end weapon all week. Mack is in that Jordan Reed, Gerald Everett-type of TE prospect make-up…in other words, he’s an NFL-caliber receiving weapon.

He had 48 catches and seven TDs in 2017. Coming into the session as a late-round pick or UDFA projection, he may have moved into becoming a bonafide late-round selection at the very least as someone who can develop into being a threatening receiving tight end.

4) Daurice Fountain (WR – Northern Iowa)
The MVP of the game. He had a very nice week and then had the best performance when the lights came on. He had a Zay Jones-type impression/impact on the scouts – a solid #2 WR for the NFL. He showed good hands, good route-running, and toughness.

He does not have high-end athleticism, which hurts his draft stock some, but he makes up for some deficiencies by outworking and outhustling others. In a game where most of the players looked lost and tentative…Fountain somewhat took over the proceedings when given a chance. He’s moved from a UDFA projection to a draft-worthy prospect with some ‘buzz’ now.

3) Justin Watson (WR – Penn)
The 6’0″+/215 WR had a quiet game but a great practice week…good enough to get an invite to the Senior Bowl, which means scouts want to see more.

It’s a nice bump for Watson, and he’ll get to work with more high-level QBs who fit with his game better. Watson is like a Cooper Kupp or Chris Hogan-type prospect…a three-year starter averaging over eight-plus catches, 100+ yards, and at least one TD per game in the Ivy League.

2) Joe Ostman (DE/OLB – Central Michigan)
When I scouted some of his tape/work ahead of this practice week, I was already smitten. He was second in the NCAA in sacks (13.0) this past season, but I don’t love him as a DE prospect. I think he could be a convert to inside linebacker a la Joe Schobert.

Ostman has NFL speed and agility at 248 pounds. He’s very quick in movements to the ball/backfield for a college DE (had a sack and TFL in this game) and is a sound tackler. He’s a touch small for a 4-3 DE, so he’s a better fit a 3-4 OLB, but I like the potential for him as a tackle count-racking ILB in the pros.

1) RB Jordan Chunn (RB – Troy)
Looks like a poor man’s version of Leonard Fournette – 5’11″+/234 pounds and runs with a physical, downhill style. He dealt with some injuries in 2017, but in a full season as a starter in 2016, Chunn posted 1,288 yards rushing and 16 TDs. He also caught 30 passes for 228 yards in 2016.

Chunn has a size and style that could work right away for the NFL. He might not be drafted as an intended starter, but he might be effective enough that he just wrestles away touches or has to start due to injury above him on the depth char. He is a “good find” for a guy taken later in the draft.

I wanted to see Chunn’s hands in the passing game this week, and he didn’t disappoint. In the game itself, he had a nice catch on a ball thrown at his ankles, made a smooth transition on a screen, and caught a sideline tightrope pass but was ruled out of bounds. He showed good hands in each instance – hands plus his beefy size and power – he’s jumped onto the NFL Draft radar.

Next week, I’ll be scouting the Senior Bowl and looking at the top prospects going into the game for FantasyPros and recapping the game as well. My company runs statistical scouting models on over 600 draft prospects for the NFL Draft and dynasty rookie drafts at College Football Metrics each draft season.

We’ll be following all these NFL Draft prospects through the All-Star Game, Combine data, and the entire draft process to break them down for fantasy purposes all offseason on Fantasy Football Metrics as well. More reports and content on the NFL Draft and NFL offseason activities can be found at both of our websites.

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