Devy Primer: Week 11 (2021 Fantasy Football)
In Week Ten, Purdue served up another upset to a top-five team (Michigan St), and game control became a conversation. Close wins against unranked teams by Alabama, Oregon, Ohio St, and Cincinnati served to tighten the perception within the group. This week sees four ranked games on the schedule, though only two (Oklahoma at Baylor, Purdue at Ohio St) hold genuine playoff intrigue. Kevin Coleman, Christian Williams, Jeff Bell, & C.J. Lang guides you through the Week Eleven action.
And Then There Were Ten (Jeff)
The four-team playoff field will exclusively come from the top 10 teams in the latest playoff standings. With a month still to play, making definitive statements like that may be discouraged. Still, the simple reality is there likely are not enough opportunities for a team currently standing outside that group to work their way up. But inside that group, several storylines exist—the biggest matchup, a looming Alabama and Georgia game that will decide the #1 overall seed. Meanwhile, #4 Ohio St potentially closes their season with four straight ranked games, including current #6 Michigan and #7 Michigan St. Both of the schools up north harbor playoff hopes of their own, and if any of these three can run the table, the odds are high they claim a spot. The Big 12 is still up for grabs, and assuming #8 Oklahoma avoids upset, we are likely looking at matchups with #10 Oklahoma St in back-to-back weeks. The other three teams in the group (Oregon, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame) are out of statement games and will rely on game control, upset avoidance, and the ever-important eye test (plus upset help) to hold out hope of grabbing a spot. The matchups within this group add final month intrigue and build a playoff within the ultimate playoff.
A-maize-ing news from Lincoln (CJ)
Nebraska Cornhuskers. Twenty years ago, when you saw them on your schedule, it was probably going to be a loss. Now…not so much. This week, Nebraska restructured the contract for Head Coach Scott Frost, the former Husker QB who won them a Natty in 1997. He took $1M off his current contract schedule and $7.5M off his buyout if fired next year. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table, but it also shows the sacrifice he is willing to make to stay in Lincoln. We are far removed from the double-digit win seasons when Tom Osborne was the head coach. Since Frost has taken over, he has compiled a record of 15-27. Not what you are used to seeing from Nebraska. Scott Frost is the 3rd coach in Nebraska’s history, dating back to their first year playing in 1900, to have back-to-back losing seasons, and this is the first time since 1958-1961 where Nebraska had four straight losing seasons. The transfer portal may be the only thing that can save Nebraska at this point because they have finished in the top 20 in recruiting only once since 2012 (#17 in 2019). This week, Frost cleaned out his offensive coaching room by firing his offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, QB coach, and RB coach. I think it’s too little too late, and they are just delaying the inevitable. Nebraska needs some fresh blood at the head coach position. Frost has not shown that he has what it takes to take this program to the next level.
Oklahoma’s Strange College Football Playoff Ranking (Christian)
The College Football Playoff Committee made a mistake, and it’s easy to believe they did it purposely. Undefeated Power Five teams don’t get ranked behind one-loss Power Five teams. They never have. Even with the eye test component since the committee’s formation, undefeated teams ranked highly. That is not the case with Oklahoma in 2021, as they currently sit at #8 in the CFB Playoff Rankings. The notion that an undefeated team has to prove themselves is a breath of fresh air; their close wins have been less than ideal, and inconsistent play has been commonplace. This notion is met with inconsistency, though. Ohio State and Alabama sit inside the top 4 in the rankings. They’ve experienced similar inconsistencies, and both have a loss. Knocking Oklahoma for that is calculated. Oklahoma has a difficult road ahead; if they lose, the committee can scream, “I told you so.” If they win out, they can claim that “Oklahoma needed to prove it.” Either way, people are talking about why punish Oklahoma for winning every football game, and that’s precisely why they’re the 8th-ranked college football team by the CFB Playoff Committee.
Coach of the Year Award (Kevin)
Typically when we are talking about first-year SEC coaches, we discuss that you need to have patience with them. Historically SEC coaches struggle in their first year. In Nick Saban’s first year at Alabama, he went 7-6, and there are countless other examples of SEC coaches struggling. One name that stands out this season is Auburn’s head coach Bryan Harsin. Harsin has proven himself as one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in college football this year. He’s helped develop Bo Nix this season and has Auburn playing very well. They have a chance to knock off Alabama this year, and if they do that, he should win Coach of the Year in the SEC. Time will tell if he can get his recruiting to the level it needs to be to compete year in and year out in the SEC, but he’s on the right track from the looks of it. It looks like Auburn found their man.
Paul Tyson (RS SO – Alabama) 6’5″, 228 lbs
When Alabama plays teams like New Mexico State, it’s just an opportunity to discuss some of their depth pieces that would be shining in other programs. Paul Tyson fits that bill, as he’s seen action in all nine games this year while cemented as the backup behind Heisman candidate Bryce Young. Tyson boasts an intriguing skill set; he’s without a doubt a pro-style quarterback. 247Sports rated him as the 12th pro-style QB in the nation in 2019. Tyson makes up for his athleticism by having a reliable arm and a frame that early 2000s NFL GMs craved. His outlook isn’t as straightforward as Bryce Young’s, but he should get a chance to show off this weekend after Alabama goes up by 40 in the first half.
Jayden Daniels (JR – Arizona State) 6’3″, 185 lbs
Jayden Daniels is on the list of “disappointing, but I can see why there was so much hype” for 2021. His 1,880 passing yards mark ranks 59th in college football. He’s thrown seven touchdowns to 7 interceptions. His QBR of 69.1 is 42nd in the nation. His rushing efficiency is down from 2020. There’s a chance that Jayden Daniels is nothing at the next level. There’s also a chance he returns to school for 2022 and becomes one of the draft’s biggest risers in a couple of springs. He gets a Washington team that is crumbling from the inside out (both literally and figuratively). There’s no better time for a statement game from Jayden Daniels.
Kennedy Brooks (JR – Oklahoma) 5’11”, 215 lbs
Brooks entered 2021 as the forgotten man in Oklahoma’s backfield. Tennessee transfer Eric Gray garnered the attention in the devy community, as exceptional athletes tend to do. But Brooks has operated as the lead back all season and proved his worth with 217 yards in a comeback win against Texas. Oklahoma faces their stiffest test of the season against #13 Baylor this weekend, a team that brings a physical style that will truly test Brooks and the run game. On tape, little that stands out about his game is an upright runner who lacks home-run speed but does not go down quickly. Since day one at Oklahoma, he has produced. He looks like the classic late-round or undrafted player who works his way onto a roster; if 2021 has shown anything in fantasy football, it does not count those guys out.
Travis Dye (JR – Oregon) 5’10”, 190 lbs
The Stanford game was a true nightmare for the Ducks, a loss capped with lead RB CJ Verdell suffering a season-ending injury. The pressure was on Dye, and he responded; in the four games, since Verdell went down, he averaged 159 yards from scrimmage and over two TDs per game. He came up huge in a closer than expected win over Washington, with 225 yards in a bad weather game. Dye is exceptionally fast, with rumors of a 4.32 40 time coming out of high school, and it is encouraging he has built his body to the point of withstanding heavy workloads, like the 30 touches he saw last week. His path to an NFL roster spot is through the passing game, and he has shown well with 277 receiving yards ranking second on the team. If he continues the production and tests well, he could jump his teammate in the eyes of NFL scouts. Oregon will look to continue to lean on him against Washington State this week.
Jameson Williams (JR – Alabama) 6’2″, 189 lbs
Considering Williams had to transfer from Ohio State in the off-season to get playing time this year, his rise has been extraordinary. He has 45 receptions for 870 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Williams also has two kickoff return touchdowns and has proved to be one of the best big-play threats in the country. He has exceptional explosiveness and speed. He is a threat to score from anywhere on the field, and if he catches the ball in space, he’s the most dangerous receiver in the country. Williams is that good. He’s also versatile as a receiver. Alabama has lined him out on the outside and in the slot. The NFL will covet William’s speed, and I could see him drafted in the second round of next year’s draft. His rise has been fun to watch, and it’s not close to being over.
Joseph Ngata (JR – Clemson) 6’3″, 220 lbs
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 in his career, which has limited his production at the college stage. The belief was if Ngata could stay healthy, he would be one of the biggest risers in the 2022 WR class. While he has stayed healthy, he, unfortunately, has not produced. In eight games this year, he has 23 receptions for 438 yards and only one touchdown. That’s not good enough. Clemson’s offense has also been a massive disappointment this season, and Ngata has had chances to break out; he just hasn’t done it. Ngata does have 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. But we just haven’t seen him put it all together. He’ll look to get his season on track this weekend against UCONN.
Peyton Hendershot (SR- Indiana) 6’4, 254 lbs.
Two-time All-Big Ten tight end Peyton Hendershot is on pace for his best season in college. He currently has 37 receptions for 475 yards and four TDs. He is the first tight end in Indiana history to have multiple 100-yard receiving games and, in the past two games, has nine receptions for 140 yards and two TDs. After a breakout season in 2019, Hendershot got into some off-the-field trouble culminating in an arrest for trespassing and domestic battery of his ex-girlfriend. He served one-year probation after the dismissal of most of the charges. Since that time, Hendershot has tried to turn his life around. The COVID shortened Big Ten season was a wash for most, but he has returned to the form that made him the best receiving tight end in Indiana football history. Indiana will not be bowl-eligible this season as they currently have the worst record in the Big Ten, so hopefully, we will see Hendershot in the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Jalen Wydermeyer (JR- Texas A&M) 6’5, 255 lbs.
Most people’s consensus TE1 for this NFL Draft class was Texas A&M junior Jalen Wydermeyer. At this point in the 2021 season, I’m not sure he will beat his totals from last season of 46 receptions for 506 yards and six TDs. He has 30 receptions for 406 yards and four TDs this season and has only two games of over 66 receiving yards. He’s honestly only been showing up in “garbage time” during big wins. In a three-game stretch where Texas A&M lost to #16 Arkansas and Mississippi State, yet beat #1 Alabama, Wydermeyer had a combined six catches for 108 yards and two TDs. That’s a two-catch for a 36-yard average, yet in games where Texas A&M won big, he averaged over four catches and 50 receiving yards. I realize that Kellen Mond is no longer the QB at Texas A&M, but these stats are not blowing anyone’s doors off, and they indeed aren’t becoming of a high draft pick. It might make more sense for Wydermeyer to stay for his senior season to work on being a better pass-catching tight end because he certainly already has the size and ability to be an inline blocker in the NFL.
Games Of The Week
#8 Oklahoma (-5.5) at #13 Baylor
The potential game of the week and Fox’s Big Noon showcase lost a bit of luster last week after Baylor was upset against TCU. Still, with a win, Baylor keeps hope alive for a Big 12 championship game (they would need to win out and Oklahoma St to beat Oklahoma in Bedlam). For Oklahoma, the stakes are much more significant. As Christian touched on above, the committee’s treatment of Oklahoma has been curious. Oklahoma finds itself in trouble without a win over a currently ranked team and with multiple close games. They need to impressively beat Baylor to show the committee their ability to control a game. On the flip side, an impressive victory would further serve to discredit the Bears.
Baylor is the type of opponent to give Oklahoma trouble with the 27th ranked scoring defense and the 7th ranked rushing offense; they can shorten and control the game. But coming off a bye and Caleb Williams growing in confidence, the Sooners are due for a statement game. Take the points.
Texas A&M (-2.5) at Ole Miss
Last week, Ole Miss got back on the winning side of things following a loss at Auburn two weeks ago by taking down Liberty. At the time, Liberty was a 7-1 team, and many had picked them to upset Lane Kiffin’s Rebels. Ole Miss currently finds themselves #12 in the AP Poll and #15 in the CFP Poll. With a date with #11 Texas A&M this Saturday, Ole Miss could vault themselves into 2nd place in the SEC West and a potential New Year’s Six Bowl with a victory. Top NFL QB draft prospect Matt Corral leads Ole Miss and ranks in the top three of every SEC QB statistic. He is in the top six in most NFL mock drafts and as high as 2nd overall in some.
Texas A&M has had a tumultuous year. After back-to-back losses to #16 Arkansas and unranked Mississippi State, they beat #1 Alabama. They are currently #11 in both the AP and CFP Polls and, with an Alabama loss in the last three weeks, could find themselves in the SEC Championship game against Georgia. At that point, who knows what could transpire. This game has a 56-point O/U and will be primetime on Saturday night. Both teams need this win desperately to keep their hopes of a big-time bowl game in play. We are just not sure what Texas A&M team will show up, but with the game in Oxford, look for Ole Miss to steal one from their SEC West rival.
North Carolina at #21 Pittsburgh (-6.5)
The Tar Heels are one of the most perplexing teams in college football. After a rocky start to the year (on defense especially) that just sustained into a rocky year, they upset a top 15 team in Wake Forest last week. QB Sam Howell and RB Ty Chandler combined for over 300 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground. It was an incredibly spirited performance from a team that had heightened expectations heading into this year. Pittsburgh, led by Kenny Pickett, has been a pleasant surprise. Their two losses have come by a combined 11 points, and they’ve done enough for the College Football Playoff Committee to rank them.
The only valid reason for discussing this game, however, is the quarterback battle. If you asked back in August, Sam Howell vs. Kenny Pickett was not a discussion that most thought they’d have in the dwindling days of November. But Pickett has been impressive. Howell entered the season talked about as a top-three prospect, but Pickett has outperformed him statistically. Plenty of NFL teams will have scouts present at this football game to see this two probable first-round picks duke it out in primetime. That’s exciting in itself.
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.