Devy Fantasy Football: Sleepers in the SEC (2021)
Every offseason, devy managers are tested to see if they can determine which players will be breakout candidates in the upcoming year. If you want to succeed as a devy manager, knowing which players have a chance at that breakout and drafting them before their value increases is key to achieving long-term success in these types of leagues. To help you with those tough decisions, I broke down key players at each position that are primed for a breakout type year and are worth drafting in your upcoming devy drafts.
Harrison Bailey (SO – Tennessee) 6’5″, 225 lbs
Harrison Bailey was one of my favorite prospects coming into last season. He was one of the best high school quarterbacks to come out of the state of Georgia this past decade. His 11,716 passing yards were good enough to rank him fourth in state history, finishing behind only Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson, and Jake Fromm. That’s some excellent company to find yourself in. Unfortunately for Bailey, Tennessee’s program completely imploded last year, which ultimately cost Jeremy Pruitt his head coaching job and led to a mass exodus of talent, including RB Eric Gray to Oklahoma. While Bailey has all the skills to be QB1, he will have to compete against Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker and early enrollee Kaidon Salter. If he can win the job, which I think he will, the sky’s the limit for this young man. He should thrive in Josh Heupel’s offense. Bailey is in good hands with Heupel, who has worked with Sam Bradford, Drew Lock, McKenzie Milton, and Dillon Gabriel, who achieved a high level of success in his offense. Heupel’s offense will look to push the ball down the field, and Bailey should see his attempts hover around the 35-40 mark. That has to be exciting news for Volunteer fans after suffering through Pruitt’s offensive system. Bailey is a great value right now in rookie drafts, and we could be talking about him being a top-five quarterback prospect next season.
Haynes King (SO – Texas A&M) 6’3″, 200 lbs
Haynes King waited patiently last season behind Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond. Now we should see him lead the Aggies as their QB1, and I expect big things. He came to A&M as a top 15 recruit from Texas and is a true dual-threat quarterback. His senior season Haynes Combined for just under 2,500 total yards along with 30 TDs. King has a great frame and is an outstanding athlete. His ability to extend plays with pressure is probably one of his most important traits. King has improved his accuracy on the run, and he can put the ball wherever he wants in the intermediate range. He also has the type of intangibles that I look for when evaluating college quarterbacks. He plays with poise and isn’t afraid to stand in the pocket to deliver the ball. King has everything going for him. Texas A&M should be a top-five team next season, and with all the offensive weapons around him, King could be one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. His current ADP is around the 7th round, and that will be a steal come this time next year.
Joey Gatewood (JR – Kentucky) 6’5″, 221 lbs
Gatewood is one of my true wildcards at the position. The former Auburn Tiger has had trouble getting on the field, but it would seem 2021 will be his make or break year. Kentucky’s depth chart is wide open at the quarterback position. Gatewood will compete for the job against Beau Allen and recent Penn State transfer Will Levis. If he wins the job, Gatewood could add a dual-threat weapon to a Kentucky offense that has needed a playmaker leading its offense. Kentucky recently brought in offensive coordinator Liam Coen who has spent the last three years with the Los Angeles Rams, where he was the receivers and assistant quarterbacks coach. Coen could prove to be the perfect mentor for Gatewood, and he could be a great fit in their new-look offense. He’s worth a late-round flyer in your devy drafts.
Kendall Milton (SO – Georgia) 6’1″, 220 lbs
Kendall Milton will be Georgia’s next great running back. I watched Milton play multiple times in person, and let me tell you, this kid is an absolute stud. He exploded on the scene as a sophomore in high school with 175 carries for 1,514 yards (8.7 ypc) and 23 touchdowns. He hasn’t looked back since then. He made the Freshman ALL-SEC team last year after rushing for 193 yards on 35 attempts. While those numbers may not be eye-popping, you can tell he is exceptional from every carry he got. Zamir White returning will hurt him a bit, but I expect him to get a more significant workload his sophomore season. What sets Milton apart from other runners is his physicality and exceptional contact balance. He routinely turns runs into positive gains, and he is a lot shiftier than people give him credit for. Look for him to split carries at the beginning of the season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he took over primary ball carry duties by the end of the season.
Marshawn Lloyd (RS FR – South Carolina) 5’9″, 210 lbs
Marshawn Lloyd would have never made it to this list had he not torn his ACL before the 2020 season. Lloyd was the #5 ranked RB in the 2020 recruiting class and has a ton of talent. While injured, running back Kevin Harris had a phenomenal year rushing for almost 1,200 yards. Since Harris had such a strong 2020, we will see the talented duo split carries to start the year. Even though he will compete for carries, I believe Lloyd’s talent will win out. Lloyd has an ideal frame already and has said to put on 10-15 pounds of muscle during rehab. That will only help his downhill running style that we saw him have in high school. He has an elite change of direction skillset and has the type of vision you want to see from an elite running back prospect. If he can come back healthy, look for him to lead South Carolina’s backfield moving forward.
Jo’Quavious Marks (SO – Mississippi State) 5’10”, 195 lbs
Marks is the type of player you look for when you try to find sleepers in college football. He had a very quiet freshman season, but he was still able to break a Mississippi State record for receptions by a running back with 60 receptions on the year. Marks also added 268 receiving yards to go along with 312 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He plays in the perfect offensive system run by Mike Leach that fits his style of play perfectly. He’s one of the best receiving backs in the country, and quite frankly, he may be the best running back Leach has coached. Marks isn’t like runners in the past that were only gadget players in the system. He is a true running back who shows excellent vision and has extraordinary cutback abilities. If you were designing a back for Leach’s offense, he would be it. He also has PPR abilities when thinking about his NFL profile, and you should see him gain in the neighborhood of 1,500 all-purpose yards next season. He is a massive buy for me and a must draft across devy leagues.
Xzavier Henderson (SO – Florida) 6’4″, 190 lbs
Xzavier Henderson finds himself in a great spot to break out in 2021. The Florida Gators lost their three leading receivers from last year in Kyle Pitts, Trevon Grimes, and Kadarius Toney. Henderson should be in line to start as the WR-Z from day one of spring ball this off-season with those key losses. Florida will look to Henderson to fill that production loss, and he should be more than ready for the challenge. Henderson is an elite athlete with a recorded forty time of 4.55 and can stretch defenses with his long speed. He will be Florida’s vertical threat next season, and he demonstrated elite body control on those types of catches in high school. His ability to catch the ball at its highest point and create separation from his defender will elevate him among Florida’s other receiver options. It would shock me if Henderson didn’t lead Florida in receiving yards next season.
Ze’Vian Capers (SO – Auburn) 6’4″, 200 lbs
Like Henderson, Ze’Vian Capers comes into an extraordinary situation in 2021. Auburn lost its three leading receivers in Seth Williams, Eli Stove, and Anthony Schwartz. They also fired head coach Gus Malzahn and brought in Bryan Harsin, Boise State’s head coach in 2020. Capers saw some action last year, and he had seven receptions for seventy-seven yards and one touchdown. Still, he was limited by a crowded receiver room and inconsistent quarterback play. While Bo Nix remains, he should benefit from a better offensive system from Harsin. While looking at Harsin’s offensive scheme, he gives his receivers three distinct designations: X, H & Z. Capers will more than likely line up at the Z, and he should start there. That’s excellent news for Capers because that position typically leads the team in receptions. Capers’ ability to create separation off the line and gain yards after catch are reasons he’ll play the Z position, and he’s also Auburn’s most skilled receiver. Capers should also be Auburn’s go-to receiver in the RedZone because of his size. All signs point to a big year for the young receiver.
Agiye Hall (FR – Alabama) 6’3″, 190 lbs
Alabama may have had one of the best recruiting classes in its history in 2021, and Hall is a big reason why. Hall comes in as the fifth-ranked receiver in his class, but many see him as having the talent to be #1 and for a good reason. He had 55 receptions for 1,050 yards and 13 touchdowns his senior year and was explosive all over the field. Hall has the size and frame of an NFL receiver. Hall participated in the Opening last year, where he recorded a 4.5 forty-yard dash and had a vertical of 37 inches. He is an athletic specimen, and he may be just good enough to crack the lineup next year at even star-studded Alabama. He is that good. Even if he sees the field sparingly, he still holds a ton of value, and it would be a good idea to draft him this season because he will be a top prospect in next year’s devy drafts.
Hudson Henry (RS SO – Arkansas) 6’5″, 249 lbs
Hudson Henry is the younger brother of Chargers TE and Arkansas alum, Hunter Henry. He was the #1 rated TE in 2019, and for a good reason. His senior year of high school, he racked up 1,207 receiving yards on a team-high 86 catches. That season Henry averaged 14.0 yards per catch and 92.8 yards per game through 14 games, hauling in 14 touchdowns. Last season at Arkansas, he suffered an injury and only played in five games, racking up sixteen receptions for ninety-two yards and one touchdown. Even with the low production, there is a lot to like about Henry as a tight end prospect. Henry is an extremely efficient route runner against zone coverage. He knows exactly where to sit and find open spaces. He can stretch the field against linebackers and safeties in coverage. He has masterful YAC ability and has the speed you are looking for. He is precisely the type of player that the NFL is looking for, and regardless of college production, he will make an NFL roster.
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