Devy Primer: Week 2 (2021 Fantasy Football)
Week 1 in college football has come and gone. While it was not always pretty last week, the fact that we got to watch real football was exciting. Now with Week 2 of college football here, we get to see some Goliath matchups across the college football landscape. This week’s slate of games brings back out of conference games.
Kirby Smart’s Breakthrough (Jeff)
In 2017 Kirby Smart looked to have Georgia on the edge of a breakthrough decades in the making. A national championship game appearance that went to the wire before a fateful Tua Tagovailoa to DeVonta Smith touchdown pass combined with incoming five-star freshman quarterback Justin Fields had the program primed. Then, the rest of the story. Fields transferred into a successful career with Ohio St and an average final AP poll finish of 6th over the last three seasons. On Saturday night against Clemson, Smart finally oversaw the program’s first breakout win since that 2017 season. The defense was simply dominant in shutting Clemson down to just three points, and JT Daniels did enough to close the game out. This offense is a question mark, and losing George Pickens is a blow. Still, the Bulldogs avoid Alabama and Texas A&M in the regular season, and rivalry games with Florida and Auburn are the most significant remaining obstacles. Smart has successfully taken the first important step of 2021.
Chip Kelly’s Return (Christian)
Chip Kelly has been on quite the rollercoaster since his rapid rise to fame at Oregon in the early 2010s. His jump to the NFL is well-documented as a failure, and his early work at UCLA left concerns. But something is different here in 2021; the Chip Kelly system is back, and it leads you to believe that he was ahead of his time at the NFL level. Kelly’s diverse running game and ability to draw defenses into the box, only to catch cornerbacks sleeping after seven straight run plays, has been a thing of beauty in the first couple of UCLA games. This UCLA team has an outside shot at a College Football Playoff spot, and while it’s still an uphill battle, this is a story I will be keeping an incredibly close eye on as we move into conference play.
Jim Harbaugh’s Tenure (Kevin)
Since Lloyd Carr’s retirement, we’ve seen saviors come and go within the program. As a Michigan fan my whole life, I understand the mediocrity which is the Wolverine program. It’s been a rough decade for Wolverine fans, and our ineptness against Ohio State has taken its toll on everyone that supports the program. Unfortunately for Jim Harbaugh, he gets the majority of the blame. But Harbaugh is still objectively a good football coach. He is 50-22 at Michigan, with a .690 winning percentage. Some may have forgotten the depths to which the program had sunk in 2014, the last year of Brady Hoke’s tenure; upon his arrival, Harbaugh immediately resurrected the program. According to Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings, Michigan has four top-10 finishes in six seasons under Harbaugh. But there have been some issues, most notably his 0-5 record against Ohio State and his inability to develop true offensive talent. Michigan beat an excellent Western Michigan team on Saturday, 47-14. Now it’s time for Harbaugh and Michigan to prove they can get better as the season goes against Washington. A team who lost to Montana on Saturday. This year is massive for Harbaugh and the Wolverines. A loss to Washington would be disastrous.
McKenzie Milton’s Comeback (Marc)
As a UCF fan, I was delighted to see them see a second-half surge against Boise State that led them to eventual victory. However, that pales in comparison to what happened one day later. McKenzie Milton, who was nothing less than dynamite as UCF’s starter for a couple of seasons, saw his football career seemingly shatter when he went down almost three years ago. It was a horrific knee injury that took longer to heal because of medical setbacks. Many believed, including me, that it was over for the dual-threat quarterback. Last December, Milton transferred to Florida State. This transfer was not big news since consensus believed he wouldn’t see the field.
This past Sunday, he was on the sidelines watching starter Jordan Travis playing inconsistently, if not poorly, against heavily favored Notre Dame. Travis threw two touchdowns and also ran one in but was responsible for three interceptions. When Milton entered the game, the fourth quarter, the Seminoles losing 38-28. It seemed out of reach, but he orchestrated a comeback in less than ten minutes. The game finished regulation tied. Florida State had the chance to take the lead in overtime, but Ryan Fitzgerald missed a 37-yard field goal. The Irish got the ball back and kicked the winning field goal. Although the comeback fell short, the return of MacKenzie Milton is now confirmed. Don’t be surprised if he ends up taking over behind center. Not bad for a player deemed never to play again. Milton is the perfect Cinderella story on how to never give up on your dream.
Hudson Card (RS FR – Texas) 6’2″, 200 lbs
Some were shocked when Steve Sarkisian named Hudson Card the starter for the opener against Louisiana, but beat reporters alluded to that possibility for months. Card immediately stepped in and showed why he won the gig. He completed 67% of his passes, threw for 224 yards, averaged over 10 yards per attempt, and took care of the football against a ranked opponent. His Estimated Points Added were 9.5 – good for fifth in the country. Not too bad for a redshirt first-year student. Card will follow up his impressive debut against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas was exceptional in their Week 1 matchup with Rice, holding opposing quarterbacks to under 50% completion, just 227 yards on 35 attempts, and a 1:3 touchdown to interception ratio. They also roster one of the best safety prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft in Jalen Catalon, who could give Card some problems with his range, coverage ability, and ball skills (he snagged two interceptions in Week 1). If Card can continue his upward trajectory against a defense of this caliber, he’s going to bump up a lot of devy quarterback lists.
Desmond Ridder (SR – Cincinnati) 6’4″, 215 lbs
“Desmond Ridder for Heisman” is going to be a journey that people, and especially Cincinnati fans, embark upon in the coming months if Ridder plays up to even 85% of how he did in Week 1. In his Week 1 matchup against Miami (OH), Ridder posted a clip of 20/25, 295 yards, four touchdowns, an interception, a 223.9 rating, and a QBR of 96.1 (which was good for third in the nation). Ridder displayed his big arm, placed the ball well, and overall, looked dominant. The Bearcats get Murray State in Week 2, and while Murray State is a lot better than Miami (OH) on the defensive side of the ball, the expectation should be that Ridder continues along his upward trajectory. Ridder is a sleeper quarterback for many within the 2022 NFL Draft class, and he will get to prove he belongs among the top in Week 2.
Kenneth Walker III (JR – Michigan St) 5’10”, 210 lbs
Walker arrived as a transfer from Wake Forest and immediately staked his place atop the depth chart. Facing Northwestern in his debut, he led college football by totaling 264 rushing yards, good for the seventh-highest single-game total in school history. Walker showed breakaway speed, taking the game’s first carry 75 yards for one of four touchdowns. Also on display was decisiveness and one-cut ability in a frame and style reminiscent of 2020 draft pick Michael Carter. Walker III will look to build on his start Saturday against Youngstown St.
TreVeyon Henderson (FR – Ohio St) 5’10”, 210 lbs
The nation’s top RB recruit made an immediate impact in his first game. Henderson’s game-breaking ability became evident when he split two defenders and outran Minnesota’s defense for a 70-yard touchdown. The Buckeyes will look to ease him into the game plan as the season continues, but it is clear he brings this team a home run element out of the backfield not seen since Ezekiel Elliott. Master Teague looked to have lost his share of the backfield as the game progressed, and based on the performance of week one, a two-way split between Henderson and Miyan Williams could emerge. The results will be fantastic when you combine his pedigree with one of the best offensive lines in college football. It will bear watching what kind of role Henderson can carve out on Saturday against Oregon.
Zay Flowers (JR – Boston College): 5’11″, 178lbs
Before the 2021 season, I highlighted Zay Flowers as my 5th ranked receiver in the draft class. His 2020 production of 56 receptions for 892 yards and nine touchdowns. He is one of the best vertical threats in college football and is a YAC monster. He has a unique ability to create separation, is a fluid route runner, and has excellent hands for a receiver. Flowers is quarterback Phil Jurkovec’s top target in 2021 and will lead the team in all receiving categories.
Last week against Colgate, Flowers’ skills were all on display, and he had seven receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown. He is a great prospect. It would not surprise me to see Flowers be a Day 1 or early Day 2 selection in next year’s draft. Before the season, his consensus rank was WR31 in devy drafts. If you got him at that ADP, it is an absolute steal of a pick.
Joseph Ngata (JR – Clemson): 6’3″, 220lbs
There was not a lot that went right for Clemson’s offense last week against Georgia. The offense looked out of sync and only managed to put up three points in a 10-3 loss. However, there was a bright spot. That bright spot was wide receiver Joseph Ngata. Ngata recorded six receptions for 110 yards in the loss. The numbers are great, but the most important thing is that he looks fully healthy again. People forget that Ngata amassed 188 receptions for 3,682 yards with 55 touchdowns through his high school career. He was one of the best wide receiver prospects in California state history. Unfortunately for Ngata, he has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, limiting his college stage production.
If Ngata stays healthy, he will be one of the biggest risers in the 2022 WR class. He has a rare combination of size and athleticism for the position. He has one of the best releases on the Clemson team and is a YAC threat whenever he touches the ball. His hands are exceptional, and in a receiver room that needs an alpha option, he could be Clemson’s only hope this season.
Charlie Kolar (SR – Iowa State) 6’6, 260 lbs.
Charlie Kolar had a great 2020 season as he led the Big-12 with 44 catches, 591 yards, and 7 TDs. He was one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, was an All-America, First-Team All-Big-12, and was ranked in the Top-5 nationally among all tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and TDs. Kolar could have bolted for the NFL but decided to stay for his senior season with teammates Brock Purdy and Breece Hall. Kolar did not play in the season opener against Northern Iowa as he was nursing an ankle injury from the spring, but all indications have him starting in this weekend’s big Cy-Hawk Game vs. #10 Iowa at home.
Iowa State’s win last week was not precisely “Purdy.” Outside of a 2-yd Breece Hall TD run, the Cyclones only mustered three field goals. Drops and fumbles killed their momentum, and not having Kolar as a target limited Brock Purdy’s options. This week, in arguably their most crucial game of the season, the Cyclones, now having knocked the rust off, will come out to a packed and raucous home field. Purdy and Kolar will look to re-establish that connection where Kolar averaged five receptions and 76 yards per game over the last month of the season.
Trey McBride (JR – Colorado State) 6’4, 260 lbs.
There are tight ends like Kyle Pitts who are just athletic phenoms, and they can play just as good if not better than wide receivers. Then there are those built like Trey McBride. At 6’4, 260 lbs., he is a man. There is no confusing him for a wide receiver, yet he is about as complete a tight end in the game right now. Exactly what NFL teams are looking for in all phases of the game. He is a great blocker, is physically demanding, has a great football IQ, and can catch and run. He had a breakout in 2019 where he had 45 catches, 560 yards, and 4 TDs. He looked even better last season. Colorado State only played four games, but if they had played a full 12 games, he would have been on pace for 66 catches, 990 yards, and 12 TDs. Not bad for a wide receiver, let alone a 260 lb. tight end. One more thing, another tight end who has almost identical height and weight – Travis Kelce.
Colorado State welcomes in Vanderbilt on Saturday night. Last week in a loss to South Dakota State, McBride caught 13 of 14 targets for 116 yards. Vandy got smoked at home last week by East Tennessee State, but Colorado State did not play great last week either, so this could be a bit of a shootout. I would not be surprised to see McBride with another double-digit target total, and hopefully, he can find the end zone for the first time in 2021.
Kyle Hamilton (JR – Notre Dame) S 6’4″, 220 lbs
Kyle Hamilton is the top-ranked 2020 prospect at safety and demonstrated his dominance against Florida State this past weekend. First of all, what sets him apart is his build. Most safeties tend to be around six feet tall, hovering around 200-lbs. Hamilton towers over the average, coming in at 6’4″ and weighing in around 220-lbs. Besides his size advantage, Hamilton possesses elite physical traits. And if you haven’t been convinced of his athletic ability before, watch his second interception against Florida State. The speed, vision, anticipation of going along with great hands have many now thinking he won’t just be a first-round pick but is building up a case to go top-5. This week he faces the Toledo Rockets – lesser competition. Hamilton needs to dominate this type of game to keep his draft stock high.
Riley Moss (SR – Iowa) CB 6’1″, 194 lbs
Riley Moss had himself a game last week against the Hoosiers. If two pick-sixes aren’t convincing enough, this Hawkeye also did not allow a single catch in the game playing against Indiana, a team many expected to be ranked by the end of the season. Moss is not a household name. He is only a two-star recruit, according to 247 Sports, and is already a senior. However, Moss may be flashing at the right time to continue his career in the NFL. It is way too early to expect anything close to this from Moss, but he is now a player worth watching this week as he faces in-state rivals, the Iowa State Cyclones. This game should be a highly spirited affair that will surely help us understand whether he is the real deal or just PFF’s flavor of the week.
Games Of The Week
Buffalo @ Nebraska (-13.5)
Surely not the marquee matchup of the weekend, but it certainly could be one of the more intriguing. Nebraska, who made headline news in 2002 after ending a 21-year streak of being ranked in the Top 25, has been a shell of their former self. No one fears Nebraska anymore, and even though they thought the guy who brought them a National Championship in 1997 as their star QB, Scott Frost, may right the ship, a loss in this game could be the nail in his Nebraska coaching coffin. The Huskers lost their opening game to Illinois on the road in a game that was never competitive. They followed that up with a 52-7 win last week at home vs. Fordham. Their QB Adrian Martinez was a 4-star recruit and the 7th best dual-threat QB in the 2018 class. So far, he has underperformed since his stellar freshman year, where he had 2,617 passing yards, 629 rushing yards, and 25 total TDs.
Buffalo is not a pushover by any means. Last week, they also had a bit of a “cupcake” game, beating Wagner 69-7. They rushed for 312 yards and were effective through the air, with over 231 passing yards. They were in the MAC Championship game in a COVID-shortened season and were nationally ranked for the first time last year in the AP Poll at #23. Talented running back Jaret Patterson is now with the Washington Football Team in the NFL, but junior RB Ron Cook, Jr, steps in. He ran for 94 yards on 14 carries last week in his debut and is very dangerous as a kick/punt return specialist. It will be interesting to see how this game shakes out. But over their last 11 games: Buffalo is 10-1, and Nebraska is 4-7.
Iowa @ Iowa State (-4.5)
The battle for the Cyhawk Trophy is not a great matchup on paper, and it may not live up to the hype, but the Iowa-Iowa State matchup is a must-watch this weekend. Iowa is coming off of a rout of Indiana in a game that most picked Indiana to win. Led by running back Tyler Goodson and his 99 yards, the Hawkeyes dominated the underwhelming Hoosiers after throwing two quick uppercuts and getting out to a 14-0 lead. Spencer Petras leads the Hawkeyes, and while that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, he managed the game quite well in Week 1.
The Cyclones are led by Brock Purdy and Breece Hall and come in as the higher-ranked team this week. Breece is the devy darling in this matchup, and Iowa State would be wise to ride him to victory, but Purdy has a decent set of weapons at his discretion and could outduel Petras if it becomes a shootout.
Iowa comes in as the underdog, but the 4.5-point line after the Week 1 performances is a little shocking. Iowa dominated a ranked opponent while Iowa State struggled against Northern Iowa, putting up just 16 points and ultimately winning. This game has some devy relevance, but the fallout of an Iowa State loss would be more intriguing.
Washington vs. Michigan (-6)
This game has a trap game written all over it for the Wolverines. Last week the Wolverines looked great against an overmatched Western Michigan team, and the Huskies looked awful against an FCS Montana team losing 13-7. This week the Huskies will be desperate for a win and will come out ready to play. The real question for the Wolverines is who will step up on offense without top WR Ronnie Bell, who is out for the year. Cade McNamara didn’t have to push himself last game, but he hit 9-of-11 passes for 136 yards and two scores. I’ll be siding with the home team in this one, but I could easily see Michigan falling on their face.
Oregon vs. Ohio State (-14.5)
Both Ohio State and Oregon won their openers, ensuring the week two rematch of the 2015 National Championship will go off unimpeded. Both teams escaped closer than expected in the week one matchup, each failing to cover the spread. For Oregon, the big question will be the health of Kayvon Thibodeaux, listed as questionable with a high ankle sprain. Oregon will need him against an Ohio St offense that features one of the best offensive lines in the nation. The Ducks feature a balanced rushing attack between RBs C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye and QB Anthony Brown, who presents a more significant threat with his legs than through the air.
The Buckeyes come in favored and look to have a decided talent advantage. The big question is quarterback C.J. Stroud. A poor first half from the quarterback saw Minnesota carry a 14-10 halftime lead, but in the second half, Stroud was able to allow Ohio St.’s deep stable of playmakers to run away with the game. Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Miyan Williams, and the previously mentioned Henderson are the players to watch, and all are capable of posting big games against Oregon. The early kick time could be a factor for Oregon traveling east and expect the advantages along the line to allow the Buckeyes to put the game away and cover the 14.5 point spread.
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