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Devy Primer: Week 10 (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Jeff Bell | @4WhomJBellTolls | Featured Writer
Nov 5, 2021
Sam Hartman

Sam Hartman has led Wake Forest to their highest poll ranking in school history.

In Week Nine, conference races narrowed.  Georgia clinched the SEC East with a win over hated rival Florida.  Michigan St and Ohio St separated themselves in the Big Ten East with wins over Michigan and Penn St.  This week, the premier matchup showcases the SEC West with Auburn taking on Texas A&M. The winner keeps alive a slim hope of edging out Alabama.  The rest of the schedule is quiet, but as college football has come to show, the quiet weekends breed chaos.  Kevin Coleman, Christian Williams, Jeff Bell, & C.J. Lang guides you through the Week Ten action.

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Favorite Storylines

November Heisman Straw Poll (Jeff)

This year’s Heisman Trophy race has been as open as any season, the by-product of three of the top four preseason teams replacing QBs and the fourth a spectacular flameout in Spencer Rattler.  The betting markets have narrowed the list to four favorites currently: Bryce Young (Alabama, +190), Matt Corral (Ole Miss, +275), CJ Stroud (Ohio State, +450), Kenneth Walker (Michigan State, +500).  Walker struck first with the first real Heisman moment of the season, a dazzling 197 yard, 5 TD performance on Saturday against Michigan.  Realistically, Young (vs. Auburn and Georgia), Walker (vs. Ohio St), and Stroud (vs. Michigan St and Michigan) are the three candidates who have the best opportunity to snag the trophy on a significant stage.  All three players have opportunities Saturday to put up good days, but the premier matchups are what will swing this race.

Let the Scenarios Begin! (CJ)

In my best Jim Mora voice, “Playoffs?!? Playoffs?!?” The first College Football Playoff Committee rankings came out this week, and it differs a lot from the AP Top 25. In the top four are Michigan St and Oregon, out are Cincinnati and Oklahoma. The College Football Playoff is the definitive ranking, so from here on out, we don’t have to pay too much attention to the AP Top 25. I assume that it will change a lot in the next month. Georgia and Alabama will most likely play each other in the SEC Championship Game, so that one may be out. Michigan State plays Ohio State Nov. 20th, so a Sparty victory could secure a spot. Oregon has no more ranked opponents on their schedule, and their opponent in the Pac-12 Championship will have at a minimum three losses. We will see how it shapes up, but with Cincy showing up at #6 in the CFP Rankings, they may need A LOT of help to make it in. Buckle up, kids!

Gary Patterson’s Legacy (Christian)

There aren’t many head coach changes that are shocking in the college football world; fans and the national media often sense when a coach is on his last leg. Gary Patterson leaving TCU fits the definition of “shocking.” Patterson coached the TCU Horned Frogs from 2000 to 2021, amassing a 181-79 record and an 11-6 record in bowl games. He won 6 conference championships, multiple Coach of the Year awards, and ranked as one of the nation’s best and most notorious coaches. The accomplishments are outstanding, but his true impact was felt across every level of football when he revolutionized defense. The 4-2-5 defense that all football fans are accustomed to seeing in the NFL and all across the nation in the college game was the product of Gary Patterson. His innovation didn’t stop there, though, as he also was one of the first to run “positionless” defense. Most of the defensive innovations that have allowed for teams to counter the evolution of the offense? Gary Patterson. He was an incredible coach for the Horned Frogs, and while they may return to glory, Patterson certainly isn’t someone they can replace.

Dan Mullen on the Hot Seat (Kevin)

This season has got off to a terrible start for Dan Mullen. The Gators are 4-4 and suffered a blowout last weekend against Georgia. While Mullen has had an excellent tenure at Florida with a 33-13 record, we have seen a downward trend recently. His Gators are 2-7 in his last nine games against Power Five teams, and Mullen hasn’t been helping himself in the media. He also has bumbled his starting quarterback situation this season with Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. If Richardson does end up transferring this off-season, that could be the final nail in the coffin for Mullen. He will need a solid finish to the season if he wants to keep his job this year.

Player Spotlights

Quarterbacks

Cade McNamara (JR – Michigan) 6’1″, 212 lbs

Cade McNamara’s natural progression as a quarterback has been fun to watch. After posting mediocre numbers in limited work in 2020, McNamara has come into his own (and shows some excellent tools in the process). McNamara is still completing just 63% of his passes, averaging 7.9 yards per attempt, has thrown just seven touchdowns in 8 games, and doesn’t have an excellent rating. But he’s 15th in the nation in QBR, and something seemed to click in Saturday’s loss to the Spartans. McNamara made off-platform throws, throwing to the correct receiver and displaying some excellent arm talent in the process. Does he have an NFL starting future? Probably not. But could he stick to a roster as a backup if he continues to develop? Potentially. Michigan fans certainly should be clamoring for JJ McCarthy. He’s the program’s future and will probably end up the first great Michigan quarterback in the Jim Harbaugh era. But McNamara has a shot to be the first good Michigan QB in that same era and should appreciate it.

Will Rogers (SO – Mississippi State) 6’2″, 210 lbs

Will Rogers should be the topic of more conversations. Sure, he averages less than 7 yards per attempt. Sure, he’s thrown seven interceptions, matching his total from last year already. But he’s completing 75% of his passes, throwing 19 touchdowns, and being third in the nation in total yards. He has some traits, too. He has solid mechanics, a large frame, a solid arm, and he ticks through progressions better than most sophomore quarterbacks in the nation. His athleticism won’t impress, and his negative rushing yards will have analytics-based analysts writing him off. But he’s not a statue – he has displayed a good feel for the pocket and some maneuverability within it. There’s a real chance that Rogers competes for a top quarterback spot in the 2023 or 2024 NFL Draft, and that feels significant. He gets his toughest test this weekend against Arkansas. If he impresses, I think this may start to become a discussion, too.

Running Backs

Sincere McCormick (JR – UTSA) 5’9″, 205 lbs

McCormick came into 2021 as a name to watch; finishing second nationally in rushing yards in 2020 will have that effect.  McCormick started slow, only averaging 89 ypg through the first three weeks, but has popped off late with 125 ypg over the past five.  Meanwhile, UTSA is one of only six remaining undefeated teams in FBS, and they face perhaps the stiffest test of their remaining schedule against budding rival 6-2 UTEP.  McCormick ranks 11th nationally with 985 rushing yards and is already the school’s all-time rushing leader by nearly 1,000 yards, and his 28 TDS are eight more than second place. McCormick is a problematic projection to the NFL; at a projected 4.54 40 that shows up on tape, he maintains balance but lacks top gear.  His best case is likely what Khalil Herbert is currently doing with the Bears, and his productivity does make him worth keeping an eye on.

Tank Bigsby (SO – Auburn) 6’0″, 208 lbs

Coming into the 2021 season, Bigsby was one of THE names to watch.  The season has not gone according to plan, with a four-game stretch during the middle of the year where Bigsby averaged just 45 ypg.  But he exploded in week 9 with 140 yards against Ole Miss. Despite disappointing losses to Penn St and Georgia, Auburn and Bigsby enter November in control of their destiny in the SEC West and potentially the college football playoff. Saturday, they will face Texas A&M in a de facto elimination game that lands as one of the best this weekend, and both Bigsby and Auburn will go a long way towards defining their season.  

Wide Receivers

Elijah Higgins (JR – Stanford) 6’3″, 235 lbs

Stanford is sitting at 3-5 this year, but one bright spot this year has been the emergence of Elijah Higgins. Higgins has 37 receptions for 449 yards and four touchdowns this season and has emerged as the Cardinals WR1. He’s a big-bodied receiver who carries his 235lbs very well on the field. Higgins has excellent ball skills, and his hands make him a Redzone threat. He’s shown off his hands all season, and he creates mismatches all over the place. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him switch to TE in the NFL, but he is playing well enough right now to get drafted somewhere if he decides to come out. 

Jordan Addison (SO – Pittsburgh) 6’0″, 175 lbs

Addison has had a fantastic start to the season in 2021. He has already scored ten touchdowns in eight games this season and has over eight hundred receiving yards. The young sophomore receiver is proving critics wrong this year and has demonstrated how versatile he is. They have used him as a runner in the slot, outside, and backfield. Pitt has designed runs for the young receiver, and he is a threat to take it to the endzone on every play. They also have used him in bubble screens, and mid-screens all plays designed to get him the ball in open space. Addison also possesses great hands, and he is an above-average route runner. He has excellent ball skills and has shown an ability to make catches in traffic over the last four games. Addison uses excellent body control and his hips well to create separation from defenders. Addison has been one of the best receivers in college football this season, and he’s slowly working his way up draft boards.

Tight Ends

Jeremy Ruckert (SR- Ohio State) 6’5, 250 lbs.

The January 2021 Sugar Bowl against Clemson was a breakout performance for Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert. He had three catches for 55 yards and two TDs. For those who had not seen Ohio State games, this game put him on people’s radars. This season, an adjustment certainly needed to be made to the Ohio State’s offense when they had to adapt from NFL 1st round draft pick QB Justin Fields to true freshman QB CJ Stroud. Ruckert has had a bit of a slow start to this season, but he has certainly picked it up the last two games. Ruckert has eight catches on eight targets for 104 yards and two TDs the past two weeks. Many have viewed him as one of the top 5 tight ends in the 2022 NFL Draft. He may not have the impressive stats as some other tight ends. Still, unlike others, he has been playing in a pro-style offense on a national contender in high-pressure games for the past four years, so that experience merits consideration. With #3 Michigan State and rival #7 Michigan still to come, we will see if Ruckert can increase his value for the upcoming draft. 

Josh Whyle (JR- Cincinnati) 6’6, 245 lbs.

With 11 targets in the past two games, Josh Whyle is coming on at the right time for the Cincinnati Bearcats. He has eight catches for 139 yards and four TDs the past two weeks, and he has helped Cincinnati climb to #2 in the AP Top 25. The 3-star recruit in the 2018 class is on pace to have his best season so far. He is 3rd on the team in receptions and leads the Bearcats in TD receptions. According to PFF, he generated a 92.9 receiving grade and 2.94 yards per route run, both of which trailed only Kyle Pitts for the best among NCAA FBS tight ends. With Cincy being in the national championship picture, Whyle should get an opportunity to put his skill set on display in front of the nation. The 2023 NFL tight end draft class is shaping up nicely with Whyle joining the likes of Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermeyer, Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert, Washington’s Cade Otton, and Nevada’s Cole Turner. 

Games Of The Week

#9 Wake Forest at North Carolina (-2.5)

Wake Forest has achieved their highest poll placement in the AP Poll at 10.  Ever. And they are promptly greeted with a line that sees them as an underdog to their in-state rivals and perpetual “Big Brother” 4-4 North Carolina.  This Wake Forest team is the 6th ranked scoring offense and led by QB Sam Hartman (who Christian wrote up in last week’s primer). Hartman is a rare case; as a 4th-year Sophomore, he is already just 5 TD passes away from breaking the school’s record and 2,249 yards from the career leader in that category.  With 2.5 years of eligibility left.  On the opposite sideline will be one of 2022’s top QB prospects Sam Howell.  While North Carolina has struggled this season, they still rank 22nd nationally in scoring offense.  Expect fireworks in this matchup, as the total of 77 is the highest of the day.  But Wake Forest has been a team of destiny this season, and laying points gives you wiggle room on a close loss; take the Demon Deacons.

Liberty at Ole Miss (-9.5) 

Game of the Week! The Liberty Flames travel to Oxford to take on the #16 Ole Miss Rebels, coming off a loss to #18 Auburn. There are some exciting storylines within this game as Liberty’s head coach Hugh Freeze goes back to Ole Miss, where he coached from 2012-2016 and led them to a Sugar Bowl victory in the 2015 season. He did not leave on good terms as he resigned following allegations and scandal involving paying recruits and players. He took the job at Liberty in 2019 and has led them to a 25-8 record in that span to including two bowl victories. Both teams also sport QB’s who are potential 1st round NFL draft picks and lead their team in rushing. Malik Willis, the Auburn transfer, has 1986 passing yards, 684 rushing yards, 30 total TDs with 6 INTs. He draws comparisons to the likes of Michael Vick and Jalen Hurts. At 6’1, 215 lbs., he has good size to be an NFL QB. On the other side of the field, Ole Miss QB Matt Corral has 2202 passing yards, 519 rushing yards, 25 total TDs, and only 2 INTs. Both guys are the exact type of QB the NFL is transitioning to these days. They are big bodies with great rushing ability, solid arms, and decent size.

The game usually would not be much of a matchup with an SEC opponent playing an FBS Independent because Ole Miss has the superior offense and defense. Still, QB Matt Corral has an injured ankle, and Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is not sure Corral will play. The Rebels also have 4 WRs who are dinged up, including their leading receiver Dontario Drummond. Willis will run this defensive line ragged, so if they can keep pace with Ole Miss, they may have a chance to win, especially with the injuries. With #14 Texas A&M and rival #17 Mississippi State on deck for Ole Miss, they cannot afford a loss to Liberty if they hope to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl. If Corral is out, then there could be an upset in Oxford this Saturday. If he does play, it should be a great game between two soon-to-be NFL QBs. 

#12 Auburn at #13 Texas A&M (-4.5)

Auburn at A&M was always supposed to be a marquee matchup in 2021, and after a wild ride to get here, it looks to be precisely that. Over the last few weeks, Bo Nix has come into his own, displaying a better feel for the game, decision-making, and poise. The Tigers’ reliance on Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter certainly helps. These two provide the best rushing duo debatably in the nation, combining 194 attempts, 996 yards, and ten touchdowns on the season. The Auburn defense has been good as usual, too, with athletes at every level of the field.

Meanwhile, Zach Calzada has done an excellent job of putting the Aggies in positions to win. He hasn’t performed excellent over the last three games, but he did put a win against Alabama on his resume. Similar to Auburn, the rushing attack of Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane has been dynamic, as those two have combined for 209 attempts, 1369 yards, and ten touchdowns themselves. This game profiles to be a typical SEC battle, with solid defenses, incredible rushing attacks, and the winner setting themselves up nicely to land inside the top ten in next week’s College Football Playoff Rankings.

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