The story of the Big 12 in 2021 is as much about the two teams that are leaving the conference as the teams and players that will remain.
The departure of Oklahoma and Texas for the SEC figures to have a ripple effect in college football, starting with the fact that the Big 12 must adapt or face its own extinction. Iowa State doesn’t appear to be a particularly strong anchor to keep the conference afloat. But adaptation appears to be on the horizon. Reports are that the conference could merge with the PAC 12 to create a super conference rivaling the SEC.
But make no mistake, the storylines to track in the Big 12 are as plentiful as porous defenses. From the Texas quarterback situation to the future of Matt Campbell. From Spencer’s Rattler’s projection as the #1 overall pick to Lance Leipold’s late hiring in Lawrence; the Big 12 figures to be a very entertaining conference in 2021 and very profitable for C2C players.
For our conference previews, we will try to include all the relevant offensive players for the 2021 season, broken into the following groups:
- Fantasy Relevant
- Roster Fillers
- Players to Avoid at ADP
All teams are listed in alphabetical order.
Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace aren’t walking through that door. Mike Gundy is now much older than 40 and will be looking to reload around Spencer Sanders and…. There are a lot of unknowns for the Cowboys this season.
Spencer Sanders is money in the bank for college fantasy and can give your team some huge games with his rushing upside. The Cowboys can rake in points in droves and Sanders will have some strong statistical games versus the atrocious defenses in the division.
Bixby, Oklahoma’s diminutive dynamo Brennen Presley could be a devy community darling if last season’s Cheez-It Bowl performance was any indication of things to come. I think it is. Presley was video game productive as a high schooler, putting up 98 receptions for 1515 yards in his final season in Bixby. Sheesh. Athleticism also runs in the family. Presley has a sister on the Ole Miss’s track team who broke the state record for the 100-meter dash. Another sister also ran track at Oklahoma State.
The real question is who will take over for Chuba Hubbard. The most likely answer is no one. LD Brown has been with the program since 2016 and is described as the fastest player on the team. He is also a team leader. Mike Gundy figures to be loyal to him. The Cowboys also bring in Utah State transfer Jaylen Warren who joins the backfield, including 2019 JUCO transfer Dezmon Jackson.
The options in the receiving game after Presley are intriguing. Sophomore Jaden Bray possesses the more typical frame of the kind of outside receiver that has been successful under Gundy. He’s a favorite of Austin Nace’s. Redshirt sophomore Langston Anderson hasn’t pretty much nothing to date but was a 4-star prospect with a verified 4.48 40 yard dash, 39.50 vertical, and 10.80 100 meter dash at 6’2, 195. Anderson’s traits are very intriguing. The most likely outcome is that super senior Tay Martin, senior Braydon Johnson, and Presley lead the Cowboys in receiving. Johnson is the leading returning receiver and averaged a healthy 21.3 yards per catch in 2019 on 23 receptions.
To replace Hubbard, my money is on sophomore Dominic Richardson. He originally committed to TCU and then backed out late when Zack Evans made his late commitment. Against Baylor, Richardson posted the second-highest single-game rushing performance for a true freshman in Oklahoma State history. There are a lot of bodies in the backfield but Jackson and Richardson both had their own moments in 2020.
Players to Avoid at ADP
While not quite on the level of Oklahoma, Texas is another program that could have an article to itself. The offense figures to be the focus as new head coach Steve Sarkisian looks to return the 40-acre faithful to their glory days.
Bijan Robinson is the top running back in all of devy and a top-two player overall. Robinson should challenge for the Heisman Trophy and have a monstrous 2021 season. He is a beast with the ball in his hands and a smooth pass-catcher as well. The Texas RB position has historically been prosperous and Robinson will restore the glory. Sarkisian already has the commitment of the #2 overall running back in the 2022 class in Jaydon Blue, who opted out of his senior year of high school football in order to avoid injury.
We mentioned the competition in the lead, but the pendulum appears to be swinging in the direction of Hudson Card as the starter when the Longhorns take on Louisiana on September 4. Any QB at the helm in Austin will have fantasy production and if Card is the starter, he is fantasy relevant.
There are several interesting options at wide receiver, even with the departure of 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year Jake Smith. Joshua Moore is a deep threat and is likely to make an NFL roster. RB/WR hybrid Jordan Whittington should man the slot receiver position alone now with the transfer of Smith. If he can stay healthy, Troy Omeire’s catch radius is the size of the 78712 zip code. Here’s to wishing him a healthy 2021 season. Any of the three could emerge but likely all three will be solid for fantasy, but not reliable to start weekly.
The most intriguing option just might be late comer Xavier Worthy, who 247 comps to Desean Jackson. Worthy was noted as a starter following Texas’s first fall scrimmage on August 17. Worthy’s departure from Michigan undoubtedly played a role in his early 2021 ADP, which was essentially non-existent. But he’s deservedly come on strong as of late. His speed could vault him to the top of the 2024 wide receiver class.
And then there’s 2021 athlete designee turned tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, who can do this:
Players to Avoid at ADP
Jordan Whittington. Calling a player an “avoid” can be a difficult task in C2C drafts as the large majority of players fall into a category where they are being projected and their respective ADP is a result of guessing. That’s the case with Whittington. At an ADP of 56 at the position, the players that I would draft immediately behind him are complete projections in the LSU freshman receiver Chris Hilton and the Clemson freshman, Beaux Collins. Whittington is reportedly turning heads in Austin, but I am taking a wait-and-see approach after 2 seasons of virtually no production.
If you weren’t paying attention (we know you were), then you could have missed the fact that there are not one, but two TCU Horned Frogs that are must-haves in devy/C2C. Slasher back Zach Evans has the backfield all to himself now that backfield mate and fellow freshman Darwin Barlow made the jump to USC. Evans showed promise in 2020 but will need to develop a little more power behind his pads over the next few seasons. Evans was entirely too easy to bring down at times in 2020.
Perhaps even more exciting is the lanky playmaking wide receiver Quinten Johnston. Johnson was a revelation in 2020 showing the ability to get deep and make defenders miss after the catch. His frame could support a little more weight and it will be intriguing to see him play with even more strength and explosion as he develops.
Johnston’s wide receiver teammate Blair Conwright should be on the watchlist. He’s a smaller receiver with electric playmaking ability and could be a fantasy producer in the Horned Frogs offense.
Tight end D’Andre Rogers will make his freshman debut in 2021 after a sexual assault allegation clouded his status with Cal, the school he would have enrolled at in 2020 but for the allegation. His 2019 high school film showed a very good athlete at the position and a body type in the mold of Jonnu Smith or Delanie Walker. 247 Sports comped Rogers to Evan Engram. Engram as an athleticism comparison seems lofty. Regardless, Rogers is a tight end I’m snagging after more known names at the position are gone.
Players to Avoid at ADP
SaRodorick Thompson is a good player. I’d expect him to be a day 3 NFL draft pick. He’s got good size at 6’0″ and 215 pounds and will give you solid fantasy production. Thompson can run and catch passes but isn’t overwhelming athletically.
Erik Ezunkanma is intriguing. He suffered what was described as a gruesome broken arm earlier this year that required immediate surgery. He’s a full go for Raider camp however and should be a focus of the passing game. The Tech offense has been historically proficient and Ezunkanma could have a big season. He’s averaged over 16 yards a catch and has scored 10 times over the past two seasons.
The Raiders starting QB figures to be Oregon transfer, Tyler Shough. Shough looked promising as a freshman but crashed to earth in 2020 and wasn’t likely to beat out any of the other QBs at Oregon. Shough may have post some numbers but has a noodle arm and likely no future in the NFL.
Freshman Behren Morton is a player to stash, the young QB could take over as soon as this season if Shough falters. 247Sports’s Allen Trieu touted freshman Morton on an early 2021 episode of Devy Debate. Morton is a dual-threat QB with good accuracy and is dangerous when plays break down.
Players to Avoid at ADP
Leddie Brown will be the focus of the Mountaineer offense in 2021 after posting 1200+ yards from scrimmage in 2020, averaging 21 fantasy points per game. He is a fourth-year player who most expect to make the jump to the next level after this season.
Quarterback Jarret Doege will lead West Virginia’s offense. Doege is solid but unspectacular. There are no particularly attractive options amongst the pass catchers but Sam James will look to return to his 2019 form where he posted 677 catches on 69 receptions. In 2020, James had just 300 yards receiving on just 31 catches.
Brown’s potential backups are intriguing. Jaylen Anderson walks onto campus with an NFL frame that looks capable of reaching a 225 lb level in a few years. He otherwise possesses solid athletic measurables and a versatile skill set where he lined up at receiver in high school.
Justin Johnson Jr. is a slightly smaller back at 5’10″ and 190 pounds out of Edwardsville, Illinois. He holds his school record for career rushing yards with 4,175.
Players avoid at ADP
Felix Sharpe is one of the Co-Founders of Campus2Canton.com. You can hear him weekly on the Devy Debate podcast.