Devy Primer: Week 6 (2021 Fantasy Football)
College football is left to weigh the fallout of a separation weekend that saw Arkansas, Ole Miss, Oregon, and Notre Dame among others suffer their first losses. This week the Big Ten takes center stage with Penn St. traveling to Iowa for a top-four matchup. October is a good time to assess the current playoff race and how conference standings are shaping up. Kevin Coleman, Christian Williams, Jeff Bell, & C.J. Lang guide you through the Week Six action.
Fraud Saturday (Jeff)
The stakes were the highest of the season this past weekend, with several programs off to hot starts (Maryland, Arkansas, and Ole Miss) were presented with opportunities to change the course of their season and potentially raise the bar on their program ceiling. They did not deliver. An average defeat of 32 points set each program up for a tailspin. As chaotic as the beginning of the season, the order of elite blue blood programs is stepping back into control. For these early-season success stories, the page is turning fast. Maryland travels into Ohio St, while Ole Miss hosts Arkansas. Maryland and the loser of that game will likely find themselves in a familiar position, looking up to the top programs by a distance.
ACC Playoff Outlook (CJ)
Since 2011, FSU or Clemson has won the ACC, with both teams combining for three National Championships. Clemson has won the last six ACC Championships in a row, but it seems like the winds of change may be upon us. FSU is off to one of the worst starts in its history, currently sitting at 1-4. Clemson sits at 3-2 after an opening weekend loss to #2 Georgia and upset in overtime two weeks ago vs. #23 NC State. Wake Forest, NC State, Pitt, and Virginia Tech have better conference records than Clemson, but teams can’t just jump into the top 25 overnight. The ACC has only two teams ranked in the latest AP Top 25, #19 Wake Forest and #23 NC State. Neither of those teams currently has another ranked opponent on their schedules until they play each other in November. Since the College Football Playoff committee utilizes the strength of schedule as one of their main determining factors, this does not bode well for the ACC. There has also never been a 2-loss team selected for the CFP, so even if Clemson were to win out, they would most likely not get in. If we were to assume that Wake Forest or NC State won out, their strength of schedule is not exactly exemplary. In their remaining games, Wake Forest’s opponents are a combined 24-11, and NC State’s opponents are 21-14. The ACC Champion could have the opportunity to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game, with a bid to the Peach Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl, but barring an absolute collapse of the top 10 teams, the writing is on the wall for the ACC to be left out of the playoff this season.
SEC vs. B1G (Christian)
Every year, the narrative is that the SEC is king and all other conferences are inferior. Every year, the NFL reinforces that notion. The SEC had 65 players drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft; the next-closest was the Big Ten with 44. But the 2021 college football season has been strange and unfamiliar, and in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion, the Big Ten has four teams ranked inside the top ten in the latest AP Poll. Even more bizarre is the reality that all four of those teams would likely be outmatched and outplayed by both of the SEC teams that reside in the top ten: Alabama and Georgia, ranked 1 and 2, respectively. The SEC has seven schools within the top 25 while the B1G has five, but all 5 of those B1G teams reside within the top 11. The SEC has long been the more successful conference. And while the SEC’s upper tier reaches higher and depth is on this side, an argument can be made that, overall, the Big Ten is in the lead this season. And that is a perfect microcosm of the weirdness of 2021.
Pac 12 Football (Kevin)
Another season and another disappointing Pac-12 football season has come and gone. The Pac-12’s best chance for a playoff berth this season rested with Oregon. Oregon looked to be on their way after beating Ohio State in Columbus, but in true Oregon fashion, they lost to Stanford in overtime last Saturday. With that loss, barring any unforeseen losses, it looks like the Pac-12 will be on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff this season. Not only was the game terrible, but the Pac-12 officiating was even worse, including a terrible pass interference call on 4th down that essentially gave Stanford the win. The Pac-12 has continued to underachieve in the playoff era, and if they want to keep up with the top echelon of teams, they need to find a way to make themselves relevant. Oregon can’t find a quarterback. Stanford isn’t the program it once was. Arizona State is awaiting sanctions from the NCAA. UCLA will never live up to expectations. USC is looking for a new head coach, and that hire is essential for the health of the conference. If they miss that search, it could be long before we see a Pac-12 team in the playoff. Not to mention they do a terrible job of exposure for their teams on the Pac-12 Network. New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has a lot of work to do.
CJ Stroud (RS FR – Ohio State) 6’3″, 215 lbs.
CJ Stroud faced an incredulous amount of criticism early in the 2021 campaign. His inability to hit wide-open receivers left Ohio State fans and Chris Olave/Garrett Wilson truthers alike yelling at their TV. The criticism, while probably unfair, felt warranted. Stroud then sat for a week to get his shoulder healthy. He returned last week against Rutgers, posting a 17/23, 330-yard, 5-touchdown game and firmly cementing himself as the QB1 for the Ohio State Buckeyes. That performance raised Stroud’s QBR to 85.3 ( fifth in the nation), his yards per attempt to 10.4 (third nationally), and his touchdowns to 13 (tenth in the country, despite playing four games to most quarterbacks’ 5). His bounceback should have devy fantasy football players excited, and this week, he gets a Maryland team that was lit up by Iowa one week ago. Stroud is a must-start in C2C leagues. He should also continue his upward trajectory, meaning that the Ohio State quarterback room may get even muddier moving forward.
Carson Strong (JR – Nevada) 6’4″, 215 lbs
This spotlight is long overdue. Carson Strong is a legit NFL prospect, and while his stats aren’t going to jump off the page, especially while playing at a Mountain West school, the kid can play. Strong has displayed an innate ability to place footballs. He understands how to change speeds, and that allows him to make virtually any throw. His arm talent is exceptional, and he gets a New Mexico State secondary that allows over 250 passing yards per game. Strong is already on the radar (he’s ranked quite highly in NFL Draft circles), but this weekend could place him firmly in the discussion for QB1 of the 2022 class.
Sean Tucker (FR – Syracuse) 5’10”, 210 lbs
In a surprising turn of events, Wake Forest sits at 5-0 on top of an ACC Atlantic division long been ruled by Clemson, while Syracuse has ridden Tucker to a 3-2 start that’s featured two close losses. Tucker has been a phenom, ranking third in the nation with 638 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. An explosive RB, Tucker has 40 times under 4.30 and a compact, muscular frame that allows him to break arm tackles. He came into the season ranked lower on the much-heralded 2023 class rankings, but if he continues this production through the next season and a half and tests up to his capabilities, he will rocket up draft boards. Despite the 5-0 start, Wake Forest’s rush defense has been mediocre, ranking in the middle of college football. Tucker has a fantastic opportunity to pop onto the national radar this week in a potential upset opportunity.
Keaton Mitchell (FR – East Carolina) 5’9″, 181 lbs
From one explosive sprinter to another, Mitchell burst onto the scene with a 222-yard performance against Tulane. The proverbial big play waiting to happen, he has recorded four plays over 60 yards on the season and ranks second in the NCAA in yards per rush at 9.6. While Tucker has a classic RB frame, Mitchell needs to continue to work on his strength to project to the next level. Still, a lighting quick RB in an ECU uniform will invoke visions of Chris Johnson and what Mitchell has shown bears watching as the season progresses. ECU plays UCF in a game with little national significance but should be a decent test to see if Mitchell can continue his big-play propensity.
Mario Williams (FR – Oklahoma) 5’9″, 186lbs
Mario Williams came to Oklahoma this season as the #4 ranked WR in the 2021 class. He’s had flashes where you can see his talent this season, but he has yet to have that breakout game that we’ve been waiting to see. He has 20 receptions for 178 yards and two touchdowns this year, but I expect him to make an impact against Texas. Oklahoma’s offense has been struggling, and to avoid the upset, they will need to get Williams involved in the game plan. As a prospect, Willaims exhibits great YAC ability and is quick enough to break off significant gains. He has good lateral quickness and does an excellent job against press coverage, even for his size. We could be looking at some big plays if Oklahoma can get the ball to him in space this Saturday.
Danny Gray (SR – SMU) 6’1″, 180 lbs
SMU enters Saturday’s game with a 5-0 record, including a 1-0 mark in the AAC. SMU is loaded on offense, ranking 14th in passing offense (314.2 yds/gm), fifth in total offense (532.4 yards per game), and seventh in scoring offense (42.6 pts/gm). The Mustangs are also seventh in team passing efficiency (173.6). A big part of their attack involves senior receiver, Danny Gray. Gray has 27 receptions for 432 yards and seven touchdowns in 2021. He’s currently averaging 16 yards per catch and has proven to be SMU’s go-to receiver when looking for a big play. Gray stretches the field with his elite speed and shows impressive open-field acceleration. He may be the fastest receiver in college football.
Greg Dulcich (JR- UCLA) 6’4, 250 lbs
Last week, UCLA got hammered by Arizona State, 42-23. Not many things went right for the Bruins, and their defense could not stop the Sun Devils from doing anything. The one small glimmer from the Bruins game was tight end Greg Dulcich. He and Zach Charbonnet keep this team afloat with their consistent performances over the first five weeks of the season. Dulcich had nine catches for 136 yards this week, which is his second game in only four games played of over 117 receiving yards. Dulcich has the 4th most snaps of any tight end in the NCAA, ranks 6th in the Pac-12 in receiving yards, and is 2nd in Yards per Reception (19.6). If Head Coach Chip Kelly can keep getting him the ball, Dulcich is on pace for close to a 1,000-yard season. Don’t be surprised if Dulcich hops into the NFL Draft conversation along with Trey McBride (Colo St) and Jalen Wydermeyer (TA&M).
Tyrick James (JR- Tulane) 6’2, 245 lbs
Trick James has been a point of consistency for the Tulane Green Wave this season. He has averaged five catches for 48 yards every game and has eclipsed his receiving totals from his previous three years. He is in the top 10 in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs in the AAC and currently has the 6th most receiving yards of any tight end in the nation. A three-star prospect from Texas, James has a knack for showing up in the big games. In week one, when Tulane almost beat Oklahoma, James had six catches for 93 yards. Then, two weeks later, James had 47 receiving yards and a touchdown, which kept the Wave in striking distance. At 6’2, he is not as tall as most tight ends, but he is quick and has a great coach behind him. Chip Long is the offensive coordinator for the Green Wave, and from 2017-2019, the tight ends coach for Notre Dame. While there, he helped Cole Kmet and Tommy Tremble become starting tight ends in the NFL. Tulane plays #24 SMU and #5 Cincinnati this month, so look for James to establish himself as a top tight end prospect.
Games Of The Week
#6 Oklahoma -3.5 at #21 Texas
Is it the Red River Shootout, Showdown, Rivalry, or Classic? Whatever you want to call it, the Cotton Bowl will be rockin’ this weekend as Texas and Oklahoma play in front of a packed stadium. Oklahoma comes in ranked #6 but has been sliding down the rankings after being rated #2. They haven’t lost a game, but the voters have not bought in on the Sooners. They barely beat Tulane 40-35 and, outside of their cupcake game vs. Western Carolina, every one of Oklahoma’s victories has been within seven points. The Sooners own a 14-7 record against Texas since 2000 sophomore quarterback Spencer Rattler who has been underwhelming with 10 TDs and 4 INTs. Tennessee transfer RB Eric Gray was in many people’s top 5 devy rankings, yet Kennedy Brooks currently leads the team in rushing. Texas is now #21 in the nation, with their only loss coming at the hands of #13 Arkansas. There has been a bit of a carousel at the starting QB position. Casey Thompson looked to be the guy through the spring, but new Head Coach Steve Sarkisian went with Hudson Card to start the season. After a poor showing in the first half vs. Arkansas, Thompson replaced Card, and he hasn’t looked back. The one thing that is not a question is who is RB1 for the Longhorns. That belongs to Bijan Robinson, the talented 5-star and #1 overall RB prospect in the 2020 class. He is at the top of the Big 12 in rushing, leads the NCAA in Yards from Scrimmage, and is 2nd in rushing yards nationally. Oklahoma is currently a 3.5 point favorite, but this game could go either direction. Both defenses give up over 325 yards per game; whoever scores last may win.
#3 Penn State at #4 Iowa -1.5
A “Battle of the Big Ten Heavyweights” matchup that doesn’t include Ohio State is not something that most college football fans are accustomed to hearing. This weekend, Penn State travels to Iowa to take on the soaring Hawkeyes; it will also be a reality. Iowa boasts a top ten defense and has been stellar in all facets on that side of the ball. Running back Tyler Goodson has led the offensive attack, but Iowa had no issues airing it out against Maryland in Week 5. On the other side of the field, Penn State is no slouch of a football team either. Jahan Dotson is making a case at being a first-round prospect with his big-play ability. Parker Washington and a trio of running backs (Noah Cain, Keyvone Lee, and John Lovett) round out an explosive offensive attack. While last week saw some disappointing top 25 matchups, this one should excite me. These two teams match up incredibly well, and this may come down to the last possession.
#2 Georgia -15.5 at #18 Auburn
Georgia and Auburn are both coming off big wins last weekend. Georgia dominated Arkansas 37-0, and Auburn won against LSU 24-19. This game is intriguing for the SEC. Georgia looks like the most dominant team in the country, and their defense only allows 4.6 points per game. Auburn has Bo Nix, and he always makes games exciting. This game will come down to the trenches and whether or not Auburn can score against Georgia’s defensive front. The other big question is whether or not quarterback J.T. Daniels will play. Daniels missed Georgia’s week two matchup with UAB earlier this season and last week’s Arkansas game due to an oblique injury. Stetson Bennett has filled in nicely in those two games, but the team needs Daniels down the stretch. I expect Georgia’s defense to be too much in this game, and they should cover the 14.5 point spread.
#13 Arkansas at #17 Ole Miss -6
What happens when both teams are coming off body count games? The losses suffered to Alabama and Georgia by these two were not close. And now it is time to recover. Arkansas has ridden a strong defense through Stetson Bennett leading Georgia’s offense with minimal resistance forces reflection on the previous games. Alabama handled Ole Miss, but not to the same level as Arkansas. And featuring a decided advantage at QB with Matt Corral along with the home-field, Ole Miss should be able to cover the spread and get back on track.
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