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Devy Fantasy Football Conference Breakdowns: SEC (2021)

by Jeff Bell | @4WhomJBellTolls | Featured Writer
Feb 20, 2021

 
This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from Jeff Bell, head over to GoingFor2.com.

This is the first of a series exploring the college football landscape from a Devy perspective. I will be joined by Christian Williams as we journey conference by conference taking a look at the fantasy-relevant positions and prospects. First up is the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

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Quarterback

Two quarterbacks head up the Devy conversation in the SEC and they could not be more different.  Alabama QB Bryce Young (#7 in my FantasyPros Devy Rankings) is an electric player in a small frame (5’10”) who presents the classic rushing floor fantasy QB that managers crave.  Georgia QB JT Daniels (#21 in Devy Rankings) is a classic pro-style passer who took the reigns late in the season, transforming the offense and ending the season on a high note with 392 yards and a win vs. Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.

The conference has seen a changing of the guard, with several starters departing at key schools: Florida (Kyle Trask), Texas A&M (Kellen Mond), Alabama (Mac Jones), Arkansas (Feleipe Franks), and Mississippi St (KJ Castello).  Christian, do you see both Young and Daniels as impact NFL starters?  Any other QBs catch your eye?
– Jeff Bell

Interestingly enough, there should be a little bit of hesitance around both of these players. Young is certainly hampered by his smaller stature, though his playmaking ability is electric. He is good at getting outside of the pocket and throwing on the run. Will Alabama allow him to do that, though? Time will tell. Daniels is a player that simply makes some questionable throws. His improvement was significant in 2020, but you can tell he doesn’t have a ton of comfort when reading defenses at times. Overall, both of these players excite me a ton, but improvement is necessary. Two other guys, I am intrigued by are Matt Corral and Bo Nix. Corral has some of the most exciting film of any player remaining in the SEC, and while he needs to improve as a decision-maker, the potential is there. Bo Nix has become somewhat of a running joke to some, simply because of how highly-recruited he was and how poor he has been in his first two years. However, there are some workable traits there, and you can see why he was a 5-star recruit.
– Christian Williams

Running Back

I honestly don’t know where to begin. Tank Bigsby? Should we begin with him? The former #4 overall running back recruit from Auburn averaged over 80 yards per game as a true freshman and capped it off with a 192-yard performance. If you don’t want to start with him, we could jump over to Isaiah Spiller, the Texas A&M sophomore who rushed for 1,036 yards in 2020. If you’d prefer, we could commence the running back discussion with Jase McClellan, Jerrion Ealy, or Zamir White. The list is long for promising young SEC RBs, so I’ll turn it over to you. As with the quarterback position, there’s a ton of turnover for SEC teams at the RB position; Najee Harris, Kylin Hill, Larry Rountree, Rakeem Boyd, and more are off to the NFL. Which of these RBs excite you the most, and is there someone I failed to mention that you are into?
– Christian Williams

Bigsby and Spiller are the most exciting and have earned positions as top five Devy backs. Bigsby put up freshman numbers placing him in the school record books with Bo Jackson. A Bo Jackson reference will always raise eyebrows. His punishing and decisive run style will play at the next level and his frame allows him to stack on some desired muscle over the next two seasons. One drawback was a complete disappearance from the passing game as the season wore on, though seven catches against Georgia show that element is not completely absent. New Coach Bryan Harsin’s offense produced a string of NFL backs at Boise St.: Jay Ajayi, Jeremy McNichols, and Alexander Mattison. Bigsby is waiting out the clock at this point to join that list.

Spiller does have the bulk you want and has stacked two years of production. With Kellen Mond’s departure, the team will lean hard on him in 2021. It will be a race between Spiller and Iowa St’s Breece Hall for the top of the 2022 draft board. Najee Harris garnered attention for good reason last season. Considering physical backs like Bigsby and Spiller are hot on his heels, do you think the SEC West has a type? While those two are the frontrunners, whoever emerges from Alabama’s crowded backfield will soar in value. The same could be said for Georgia, with White and Kendall Milton igniting memories of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Given the recruiting pedigrees in this conference and the opportunities created by departures, new targets will emerge in this conference.
– Jeff Bell

Wide Receiver

George Pickens and Treylon Burks are primed to elicit flashbacks to the 2011 draft when we saw AJ Green and Julio Jones leave the conference at the top of the class. Pickens’ lanky 6’3″ frame and Georgia uniform welcome memories of Green.  On the flip side, Burks is built like a tank in the Julio mode.  Elsewhere in the conference, Alabama’s assembly line will continue to churn. The departures of Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle open an opportunity for value to explode for whoever emerges from a crowded depth chart.  Any favorite in that race?  Perhaps some thoughts on LSU’s Kayshon Boutte or Texas A&M’s Demond Demas, too young?
– Jeff Bell

I love me some Treylon Burks. His YAC ability alone puts him in the discussion with Pickens and the Ohio State kids for WR1 overall next year, but his ability to attack the football at the catch point is incredible, too. I’m very intrigued by the Pickens-Burks to Green-Jones parallel. Regarding Alabama, I think we’re going to need to see John Metchie take a massive jump. In browsing some early 2022 mocks, he’s going as the WR3 off the board, and I simply do not see it yet. His hands are questionable (and that’s putting it nicely) and he benefited from having DeVonta rocking with him. Boutte is just next in a long line of successful LSU receivers and will be high in my Devy ranks. Demond Demas is one to watch, as well. The #3 WR recruit (one spot behind Boutte) in the 2020 class didn’t see the field in 2020, and I’m excited to see what he offers. His frame and HS profile scream “dominant WR1.”
– Christian Williams

Tight End

The landscape of Devy’s tight end rankings changed a bit a few weeks ago when Arik Gilbert announced his transfer from LSU to Florida, stepping right into the Kyle Pitts role and solidifying himself as the Devy TE1. Is there anyone that can rival him? Maybe Michael Mayer, the Notre Dame standout? Aside from Gilbert, Jahleel Billingsley (Alabama), Jalen Wydermyer, Baylor Cupp (Texas A&M), and Hudson Henry (Arkansas) are guys that stand out to me in the SEC. Which of these guys do you think will take the biggest leap in 2021? And are there any other names that catch your eye?
– Christian Williams

Gilbert is a must-own. If Pitts hits early like many are projecting, the excitement will quickly flow to Gilbert. He is a special talent and one of the most athletic tight ends to come along in years. Wydermyer’s huge frame in a Texas A&M uniform creates visions of Martellus Bennett wreaking havoc in the seam. To answer your leap question, it may be Billingsley. He presents an enticing package as a tight end who returns kicks. Currently, he projects as a slighter but more athletic version of Irv Smith Jr. Given the open WR room, he could emerge as a primary target in that offense. Finally, when you see a large tight end in an Arkansas jersey with Henry on the back, it is impossible to not envision Hudson’s older brother, NFL tight end Hunter Henry. The bloodlines are there to project an NFL future. As for other prospects, tight end is such a difficult position to project to the NFL level, I am keeping my eyes on the top guys.
– Jeff Bell

Conference Outlook

We all know Alabama is the king of the hill in both this conference and the entirety of college football.  With a massive influx of talent populating the top of the 2021 draft board a reload is on deck.  Christian, do you see the conference as Alabama’s to lose?  Who are your top contenders to challenge the crown?
– Jeff Bell

I know how crazy this sounds, especially with how many defensive backs are headed to the NFL Draft in April, but the SEC is Georgia’s to lose. The constant quarterback situation, retention of two top-tier running backs, and Alabama’s perceived transition period all give me confidence in this. Of course, Alabama will be good. Their defense needs to drastically improve and Bryce Young will need to show us that he’s everything he’s billed to be. The aforementioned teams don’t have a regular season matchup, so we could very well see two undefeated teams in the SEC Championship. Man, I miss football already.
– Christian Williams

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