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Devy Primer: Week 12 (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Jeff Bell | @4WhomJBellTolls | Featured Writer
Nov 19, 2021
Anthony Brown

Anthony Brown leads Oregon against upset minded Utah.

It was Oklahoma’s turn to take a loss in Week Eleven, putting the Big 12’s playoff odds in serious jeopardy.  The rest of the top held serve, setting up a tight finish.  Two games headline week 12; first, Michigan St travels to Columbus to face Ohio St in a playoff elimination game. Out west, a potential Pac 12 title game preview sees Oregon travel to meet Utah, with the third-ranked Ducks coming in as underdogs.  Kevin Coleman, Christian Williams, Jeff Bell, & C.J. Lang guides you through the Week Twelve action.

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Conference Championship Preview Primer (Jeff)

We stand just two weeks out from Conference Championship Saturday, and only two spots are locked up in the P5 as Georgia will face Alabama in the SEC.  The ACC will go a long way towards firming up this weekend; Wake Forest and Pitt can clinch spots with wins over Clemson and Virginia, respectively.  In the Big 12, Baylor hopes for an Oklahoma or Oklahoma St. upset for a title game appearance.  The spotlight resides in the Big Ten East; a Michigan St win gives them the title appearance, baring upset in the last week.  Meanwhile, an Ohio St win shifts everything into a “winner take all” situation in The Game against Michigan.  The Big Ten West has Wisconsin with a head-to-head win over Iowa; each team will look to avoid upsets in the final two weeks.  This week, the Pac 12 is the other spotlight game, a potential title matchup preview between Oregon and Utah.  Rarely, almost every conference race is still open, but the nature of these races gives heavy intrigue to the weekend.

The Texas Jayhawk Massacre (CJ)

Let’s game this out: You are a big-time college football program with a storied history and several 5-star recruits. You are playing a team, at home, that is 1-8. During the game, your opponent runs for 200 yards and passes for 200 yards. Is this game a lock, right? Wrong. The Texas Longhorns lost to the Kansas Jayhawks this weekend 57-56. Even though Texas QB Casey Thompson threw for 358 yards and six TDs, ten penalties, and a -4 turnover ratio were the final straw for the Longhorns. This loss is only the 2nd time since World War II that KU has defeated Texas. Surprisingly enough, it was a 1-8 KU team in 2016 who beat Texas at home. With the victory last Saturday, Kansas broke a road conference losing streak which dated back to 2008. This defeat is arguably the most embarrassing loss in Texas Longhorn Football history. Where does Texas go from here? Will they fire Head Coach Steve Sarkisian? Their last two coaches did not fit what the Boosters wanted. Tom Herman was 32-18, and Charlie Strong was 16-21. Sark is starting his coaching career at Texas with a 4-6 record, and unless they beat West Virginia and Kansas State in the last two weeks, Texas may miss their 4th bowl since 2010. Maybe they need to push that move to the SEC a little bit farther out! 

 Style Points (Christian)

The College Football Playoff Committee has shown us a lot over the last few weeks. Inconsistencies in the impact of head-to-head matchups and the true meaningfulness of wins have shaped the first few iterations of the College Football Playoff Rankings. However, one thing has remained constant: the committee needs to see more from Cincinnati. The Bearcats have put up a few convincing wins in a row, have a quality win against Notre Dame, went toe-to-toe a Georgia roster that is virtually identical to this one in this calendar year, and remain on the outside looking in. While the latter point may remain valid through the end of the season, it would be beneficial for Cincinnati to start metaphorically dunking on teams. The 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes were on the outside looking in as they approached their conference championship matchup with Wisconsin. They proceeded to win that football game 59-0 and slid into the playoffs. Cincinnati needs the statement win. This weekend is a prime opportunity, as SMU is probably the best team on the remaining schedule. Style points matter, and Desmond Ridder and company need to accumulate some if they plan to make a genuine push for a playoff spot.

MACtion (Kevin)

There is nothing more exciting in college football than MACtion every week. If you are a gambling fanatic, there is nothing better than taking the overs on each game and watching them soar by the number by the third quarter. There is almost something poetic about watching the MAC on a random Tuesday night. It brings back the true nostalgia of college football, and the games are always entertaining. There are upsets and running backs scoring four touchdowns in a single game. It’s pretty honestly chaos, and I live for it. The West Division is highly competitive this season, and I highly recommend checking in on some games during the week. 

Player Spotlights

Quarterbacks

Seth Henigan (FR – Memphis) 6’3″, 200 lbs

When a true freshman performs at a high level immediately, it draws attention. Seth Henigan has attracted attention. He’s completing 61% of passes, averaging 9.6 adjusted yards per attempt, has thrown 21 touchdowns to just six interceptions, and is leading Memphis to the 18th-best passing offense in the FBS. It was one of his worse performances of the season, and the competition only grows stiffer. He gets #24 Houston this weekend, the 17th-best passing defense in the nation. If Henigan can keep Memphis’ offense afloat, it may be time to start taking him a bit more seriously as a devy asset.

Tyler Van Dyke (RS FR – Miami) 6’4″, 224 lbs

Campus2Canton’s Felix Sharpe has been telling everyone to keep an eye on Tyler Van Dyke, a 2023 quarterback that has been extremely impressive over the last four weeks. Van Dyke hasn’t thrown for less than 316 yards since October 16th. Over his last four games:

104/156 (67%), 1456 yards, 14 touchdowns, three interceptions, 174.5 rating, 84.0 QBR

To put that into perspective, an 84.0 QBR would rank sixth in the nation if stretched across an entire season. Van Dyke is a prime candidate to emerge as the QB3 in the 2023 class, and he has an opportunity to start cementing that this weekend against Virginia Tech.

Running Backs

Lew Nichols III (FR – Central Michigan) 5’10”, 220 lbs

Nichols has surged to the top of the rushing leaderboard with 1,516 yards (partially due to the extra game from Kevin’s mid-week Maction).  If you missed him, you get one more chance next week against Eastern Michigan before bowl season. With an NFL frame, he displays instincts as a runner and has a stutter step that freezes defenders at the LOS while dissecting the hole.  He has the power to shed defenders and just enough speed to break runs at the college level, though the translation to the NFL is a question, especially considering the competition (week three against LSU; he struggled mightily with just 1.8 ypc). He is a wild case; he redshirted 2019 and was given the extra Covid eligibility in 2020 before making his 2021 his “freshman” season of 2021—a player who could declare for the 2022 draft or still have three seasons’ worth of eligibility.  While the 2022 class lacks top-end talent, depth is a strength, and he will be a decision to watch.

Rachaad White (SR – Arizona St) 6’2″, 210 lbs

Arizona St has a crowded backfield, and White’s teammate DeaMonte Trayanum garnered much off-season buzz.  But White has emerged with 474 total yards over the last two games and deserves much credit for saving Arizona St’s season after two disappointing losses.  White is a very tall and long runner; the long strides allow him to crew up yardage when he gets in space.  He has shown excellent hands and emerged as a primary receiving option for the Sun Devils.  That versatility is his path to next-level playing time as there are very few “tall” NFL RBs, but his height allows him to create mismatches in the passing game.  Arizona St has a slim chance of winning the Pac 12 South (win out, while Utah loses out), but with White’s late-season emergence, the team looks more dangerous than the group that once stood at 5-3.

Wide Receivers

Anias Smith (JR – Texas A&M) 5’10”, 190 lbs

Anias Smith came into the year with a ton of hype. There was an honest debate whether or not he or Wan’dale Robinson was the better pro prospect. So far this season, that answer has been Wan’Dale. In 2020, he led the Aggies with 564 receiving yards off 43 receptions and six touchdowns and rushed 49 times for 300 yards with four touchdowns on the ground. Whenever he touched the ball, he was a genuine threat and had many devy analysts thinking he could get high draft capital come 2021. Unfortunately for Smith, he has dealt with injuries, and poor quarterback play this year. When starting QB, Haynes King went down in the second game of the season; it changed the entire direction of the A&M program. While Smith has performed a little better late in the season, his value has completely tanked from what it was before the season. Smith may need to return for his senior season if he wants to have a shot of high draft capital. 

Chris Olave (SR – Ohio State) 6’1″, 189 lbs

Chris Olave has had a good year this year. He has 51 receptions for 708 yards and eleven touchdowns. But we have seen others in that room perform better than him, including my personal favorite, Jaxon-Smith Njigba. Before the 2021 season, JSN was my pick to be the Buckeyes’ second-leading receiver, and I’ve always been down on Olave. Olave will be the most debated prospect in this class.  The fact that he came back to play for his senior season will hurt him with the analytics crowd. There’s a reason he came back his senior season, and that is because he didn’t get a first-round grade from the NFL. He should have declared last season, and now with new receivers emerging in this class, I have a hard time seeing him get drafted in the first round. Olave will need to have great testing numbers and a better finish down the stretch. In my opinion, his ceiling is nothing more than a low-end WR2, and we are starting to see that.

Tight Ends

Jahleel Billingsley (JR- Alabama) 6’4, 240 lbs.

During this college football off-season, Alabama TE Jahleel Billingsley was a front runner to be one of the top selected tight ends in next year’s NFL Draft. He was drawing comps to Kyle Pitts and ran a 4.6 40-yd dash at 240 lbs. Billingsley was a 4-star recruit out of Chicago, and the 11th ranked TE in the 2019 class. Billingsley saw his playing time increase his sophomore year in the COVID shortened season, but he has been a big disappointment this year. Outside of his big game against Southern Miss, where he had five catches for 105 yards and a TD, his 2021 stats in the other nine games played: 18 targets, seven catches, 86 yards, and 2 TDs. Yikes. There has been speculation that he was in Saban’s Dog House, but he is getting playing time; he just isn’t doing much with it. He has the intangibles, but if he can’t put it together on the field, he needs to come back for his senior season or may look to the transfer portal for some answers. 

Austin Stogner (JR- Oklahoma) 6’6, 251 lbs.

Austin Stogner committed to OU as the 3rd ranked TE in the 2019 class, and Head Coach Lincoln Riley knew he had a dangerous weapon at his fingertips. Stogner is a matchup nightmare for defenses. He is quick, has excellent route-running ability, can high point the ball, and is a beast in the Red Zone. But a freak infection in 2020, which almost took his life, cut short his breakout year, and then inconsistent QB play has plagued him this season. Stogner was 3rd in receiving in 2020 for the Sooners and started to grow a report with Sophomore QB Spencer Rattler. With Rattler expected to take a big step up in 2021, Stogner was considered one of the nation’s best TE’s. In 2020, he was Top 5 among TEs, with routes run > 15 yards and yards per route run. But even with Lincoln Riley’s high-powered offense, 2021 has not been kind to Stogner. He has 23 targets, 12 catches, 113 yards, and only 2 TDs. These are not numbers that exactly jump off the page. Senior TE Jeremiah Hall has doubled up Stogner on all his numbers. Austin may still be an NFL TE, but he will have to earn it the hard way and hope he can blow away the Combine because the stats won’t do it for him alone. 

Games Of The Week

#7 Michigan St at #4 Ohio St (-19)

The Heisman Trophy race continues to take shape between Michigan St’s RB Kenneth Walker III and Ohio St’s QB CJ Stroud.  The Big Ten East will go a long way towards being determined based upon this outcome.  And ultimately, the Big Ten’s presence in the college football playoff.

Michigan St will look to borrow from game plans put in by Penn St and Oregon that helped limit Ohio St’s nation-leading offense. The key will be Walker, and against Oregon, the Buckeyes ground defense struggled, but schematic changes have them sitting 13th nationally in run defense.  The real test will be a Michigan St pass defense that ranks dead last against an Ohio St pass attack that ranks 6th.  The spread is enormous for this type of matchup, but it speaks to Ohio St’s ability to quickly put up points and Michigan St’s light schedule this season.  Look for Stroud to grab the Heisman spotlight with a performance that solidifies Buckeye’s position within the top four.  

#3 Oregon at #23 Utah (-3)

This game is a prime upset opportunity. In the 2019 Pac-12 Championship Game, the #13 Oregon Ducks beat the #5 Utah Utes and dashed their hopes for a CFP berth. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and #23 Utah has an opportunity at home to knock #3 Oregon out of the CFP. Both teams have mobile QB’s. Oregon’s Anthony Brown, the Boston College transfer, has over 2,000 yards passing and 550 rushing yards. Utah’s Cameron Rising, the Texas Longhorn transfer, has over 1,700 passing yards and 320 rushing yards. They have both done well protecting the ball, with neither throwing for more than 4 INTs. Oregon’s Defensive End Kayvon Thibodeaux, projected to go #1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, will force Rising to be on the run all game. If Rising can move the ball and establish their running game with lead back Tavion Thomas and OU transfer T.J. Pledger, the Utes will have a shot at the upset. After the overtime loss to Stanford, most people forgot that Oregon went on the road and beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in Week 2, but this is the first ranked team they have played since that victory. Even if Oregon wins, Utah still has a shot at playing spoiler again in the Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon by beating Colorado the last week of the season. Prediction: Students will be on the field in Salt Lake Saturday night!

Iowa State at #13 Oklahoma (-4.5)

This game had a ton more intrigue three months ago but should still shape up to be a competitive and entertaining game. Iowa State’s Breece Hall has sustained a high production level this season and will likely eclipse 700 career carries before the final whistle. Oklahoma bottled him up last year, holding him to his lowest yards per carry clip and the second-worst total yardage of the entire season. Brock Purdy kept Iowa State within winning range, but Oklahoma ultimately won out. This iteration of Iowa State may be worse overall, but this version of Oklahoma is worse. The Sooners are coming off their upset loss to Baylor, virtually rendering a playoff appearance impossible. Lincoln Riley often struggles in bounce-back performances; in 2019, following a loss to Kansas State, the Sooners beat Iowa State 42-41. In 2020, Kansas State got the best of them again, and Iowa State took advantage of that. If Oklahoma executes their offense in the way we’ve seen for most of Caleb Williams‘ time, Iowa State’s defense may struggle. If they don’t, we could have another dose of Spencer Rattler. Either way, this game should remain close and keep viewers entertained. On this slate, that should be enough.

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