Devy Fantasy Football: Sleepers in the Big 12
Every off-season, 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, you must know which players have a chance at that breakout and draft them before their value increases. To help you with those tough decisions, I have identified key players at each position who are primed for a breakout-type year and are worth drafting.
Kyron Drones (FR – Baylor) 6-2 205 lbs
Under Matt Rhule, Baylor looked to be rebuilding the right way and recovering from the Art Briles scandal. Unfortunately for Baylor, Rhule left town for the Carolina Panthers amid their rebuild, and the team finished 2-7 in new head coach Dave Aranda’s first year. They also lost their starting quarterback, Charlie Brewer, to Utah in the offseason. While incumbents Jacob Zeno, Gerry Bohanon, and Blake Shapen will have the upper hand in the competition, one player to watch is true freshman Kyron Drones.
Drones led his high school team to the Texas 5A State Championship in 2019, is an Elite 11 finalist, and is Aranda’s first quarterback recruit. Drones is a true dual-threat quarterback who threw for 5,000-plus yards while running for 1,300-plus in his prep career. He has a big arm and is a great off-script playmaker. He could immediately challenge for the starting job and give the Baylor Bears a true playmaker they have needed at the position.
Casey Thompson (JR – Texas) 6’1 194 lbs
The saying that everything is bigger in Texas certainly applies to the quarterback battle underway in Austin. Four-year starter Sam Ehlinger left for the NFL, leaving the job up for grabs. With new head coach Steve Sarkisian running the show and trying to make a great first impression, this decision is massive. Sarkisian will have to choose between former No. 14-ranked dual-threat quarterback Casey Thompson and former No. 2-ranked dual-threat quarterback Hudson Card.
Most believed this was Card’s job to lose, but Thompson is my pick. Thompson is a true dual-threat quarterback with great accuracy. He has the experience needed to play in a Steve Sarkisian offense where we will see many RPOs where they’ll utilize all of Thompson’s strengths. Thompson excels in RPO situations and has the decision-making to propel that offense. He also possesses excellent arm strength and can fit the ball nicely in tight spaces. Thompson has sneaky upside in C2C formats and could be an interesting Devy sleeper in deeper formats.
Leddie Brown (SR – West Virginia) 6’0 212 lbs
Brown has been one of my favorite running backs in the Big 12 since his freshman season. His 2020 season was his coming out year, as he rushed for 1,010 yards on 199 attempts scoring nine touchdowns. He also added 202 yards receiving on 31 receptions scoring two touchdowns. Brown does a lot of things well as a runner. He is explosive at the line of scrimmage and has excellent vision. While scouting running backs, I look for guys who can read their blocks and have the vision needed for big gains. Brown exhibits both those qualities. He’s also a physical back with three-down potential. He has improved his receiving ability each season, and that bolsters his professional prospects.
Brown will be the featured back on a West Virginia team that should look much improved in 2021, and they are an interesting sleeper pick for the Big 12 Championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise to me if he worked his way up and became a late day two selection in next year’s draft.
Zach Evans (SO – TCU) 5’11 195 lbs
With how good the freshman running back class played in 2020, people forget that Zach Evans was the No. 2-ranked player in that class. Evans closed his high school career with nearly 5,000 yards rushing and 76 touchdowns and was the leading rusher as a senior for a North Shore team that won its second-straight Texas 6A Division I state championship. Unfortunately for Evans, he dealt with Covid-19 early on in the season, which saw him get off to a late start. However, he still finished strong with 415 yards on 54 attempts and scoring four touchdowns.
This young man can flat out play. As a runner, he has incredible power, and his jump cut is one of the best in the country. He can alter his running style and is the type of back that can score any time he gets the ball. His ability to turn every run into a net positive gain is what excites me the most, and TCU could challenge Oklahoma for being the best offense in the country next season. Based on his current ADP and talent, Evans is the biggest value in devy leagues right now.
Quentin Johnston (SO – TCU) 6-4 193 lbs
Johnston is one of the most talented young receivers in college football. He finished the year with 22 receptions for 487 yards and two touchdowns. While those numbers aren’t eye-popping, his 22.1 yards per catch average was the highest by a true freshman in Big 12 history.
When you watch Johnston, his athleticism pops off the tape. At 6’4 193lbs, he is a freak athlete. He has excellent eye discipline and can pretty much make any catch that is thrown his way. Whether that be a jump ball, an out-route, crossing route, or an over-the-shoulder catch, he can do it all. He does a great job of adjusting his body to make a play on the ball, and in high school, you could tell that he understood how to use his body to create leverage. He also has the kind of top-end speed that you are looking for in a receiver. Look for Johnston to work his way into the discussion as a top-five receiver in his draft class after his sophomore season.
Troy Omeire (SO – Texas) 6-3 230 lbs
Omeire came to Texas last season as a four-star wide receiver who looked to make an immediate impact. Unfortunately for Omeire and the Longhorns, he suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the Longhorn’s first scrimmage of the year. Before the injury, he was an all-state track athlete posting a 32 inch vertical and a sub 4.6 forty. As a football player, he uses his athleticism well. He has a massive catch radius, and his mid-air adjustments elevate his game over his peers. He is also a physical specimen.
If I had to find a player comp for Omeire, it would be a mix between Dez Bryant and Mike Williams. With his strength, he won’t lose many 50/50 balls and contested catches. His physicality also helps him in yards after catch situations, and he dominated prep school talent. Omeire should also excel in the red zone and create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. There is an expectation that he will see early playing time out of the X position at Texas, and he could become Casey Thompson’s go-to receiver.
Austin Stogner (JR – Oklahoma) 6’6 262 lbs
Outside of tight end Charlie Kolar from Iowa State, this position is wide open in the Big 12. That said, I think that Stogner has the best chance to rise up draft boards. Last season, he ranked third on the team with 26 receptions and 422 receiving yards while scoring three touchdowns. He produced those numbers while missing three games and only making four total starts on the year. He will be playing with arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Spencer Rattler and on a team that will have one of the best offenses in college football.
Stogner possesses a massive frame and is a versatile tight end. He can line up in-line and on the outside as a receiver. When he does line up as a receiver, he has deceptive speed and can get off the line quickly. He has excellent hands for a tight end and is a competent blocker. There is a lot to like about him as a prospect. If he can be more consistent and stay healthy, there’s no reason why he won’t be a top tight end prospect in next year’s draft.
Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to more advanced strategy – like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? – to learn more.