Bowl season has been in full swing among the chaos of the transfer portal, opt-outs, and coaches leaving for other jobs. So far, the bowl season has not disappointed. We’ve seen Bailey Zappe break records, the SEC struggle, and had player breakouts the last two weeks. The real question is, who will be that prospect like Trey Sermon that uses a bowl game performance to boost their draft stock? In this piece, I wanted to look at each team in the College Football Playoff and identify players who have the most to gain or lose in devy/ fantasy value by their performance. Let’s dive in!
Georgia (12-1) Vs. Michigan (12-1)
Zamir White (JR) 6´0″ 215lbs
If it wasn’t for injuries, White could have been one of the best running backs of his class. Unfortunately, those injuries have taken a toll, and so has Georgia’s reliance on an R.B. by committee approach. This season Zamir has 718 yards on 135 attempts and ten touchdowns. He hasn’t produced massive numbers, but he has had a good season when you consider the lack of volume. As a runner, White has a one-cut and go style that thrives in any off-tackle zone system that allows him to use his excellent vision to burst through holes in the running lane. He uses his body well and loves to absorb contact and deliver blows to the opposing defenses. White will live in between the tackles in the NFL, but that’s about it. I don’t see him being an explosive back or a receiving back. He’ll only be a reliable asset in fantasy if he scores touchdowns, but he could carve that role out. His value could see a bump if he plays well in the CFP. Right now, his ceiling is Round 3 for me in the draft. Depending on his performance, we could be looking at a Day 3 runner in a very solid running back class. Or he could vault up some draft boards with a couple of big games.
Current Rookie Draft Value: Late Second
James Cook (SR) 5´11″ 190lbs
James Cook is one of those players who will pick up some draft buzz as the season ends. If he can have a good playoff, he’ll be one of those players that analysts cling to as the next big sleeper. He’s shown versatility carrying the ball 101 times for 619 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He’s also caught 21 balls for 157 yards and three touchdowns and has real value in the receiving game. He has a career total of 603 receiving yards. He hasn’t had a lot of volume in his career but has scored 19 touchdowns, and he seems to have fans in NFL front offices. As a runner, he’s shown to have good acceleration and is Georgia’s big play back. He also excels in a zone-blocking scheme because of his ability to find holes and hit them quickly. He’ll also be attending the Senior Bowl, which should help his draft stock. The biggest question mark will be his size and what the NFL will draft him as. If he performs well in the playoff, it could go a long way to securing Day 2 draft capital.
Current Rookie Draft Value: Early/Mid Third
George Pickens (JR) 6´3″ 200lbs
In my opinion, there is no player on this list that has more pressure than George Pickens. Heading into the last off-season, Pickens was easily a top three wide receiver in this class, and many had them ranked as their WR1. Then he tore his ACL during spring ball, and his stock has continued to dip ever since. It was big for him to make it back this season, and he had two receptions for 41 yards in Georgia’s loss to Alabama in the SEC title game, but he’ll need to show more. There have always been questions about his maturity level and route running, but I will never question his work ethic. The first thing that pops off the tape is his athleticism. He is an athletic freak, and at 6’3 200, he has the ideal frame you want for the NFL. He also uses that athleticism to get 50/50 balls. He uses his elite eye discipline to make uncatchable balls catchable and has some of the best hands in college football. The real question will be, can he take that next step and produce on the biggest stage. There are rumors that he may come back for his senior season because he’s not getting the draft feedback he wants, which would kill his value. If he can string together one or two great games in the playoff, we could be talking about round 1 possibilities. That’s how many different scenarios there are for Pickens as a prospect.
Current Rookie Draft Value: Mid Second
Hassan Haskins (SR) 6´1″ 220lbs
It’s time to start talking about Haskins as a serious fantasy asset heading into the CFP. Haskins has rushed for 1,288 yards on 261 attempts and scored twenty touchdowns this year. Haskins is a big reason why Zach Charbonnet decided to transfer from Michigan to UCLA last offseason. He could hold off sophomore Blake Corum and freshman Donovan Edwards from the starting job this season. He’s been Michigan’s most important player, and his five touchdowns against Ohio State finally ended the Buckeyes streak against the Wolverines. Haskins is a one-cut back that has elevated his game in Michigan’s power-run scheme. He has a north-south run tendency whose lower body strength wins him a lot of runs. Haskins uses his vision well and lets his blockers create space, which is good because he’s not an overly instinctive runner. He’s not a fantastic receiver but holds his own. He’s the type of player who can see a Trey Sermon-like rise if he plays well, especially against one of the country’s best defenses against Georgia.
Current Rookie Draft Value: Early/Mid Third
J.J. McCarthy (FR) 6´3″ 197lbs
McCarthy was the number two rated pro-style Q.B. recruit according to 247Sports coming into the season. He was one of the best recruits that have come to Michigan in the Jim Harbaugh era. McCarthy finished his prep career with a 36-2 record and 7,905 career passing yards to go along with 94 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions. He has been used sparingly in special packages this season, but he has shown flashes of his talent throughout the season, both through the air and on the ground. McCarthy has all the attributes you want to see from a young quarterback. He exhibits poise and exceptional pocket awareness to go along with a strong arm. He is accurate enough and has improved his ability to make throws in tight windows. He is a much better option than Cade McNamara, but we all know that Jim has been hesitant to make the switch to J.J. That may change Friday. If Michigan needs a spark, he may need to go to McCarthy early, just like what Saban did with Tua in the National Championship game. If J.J. can come in and make plays against the vaunted Georgia defense, we will see his value shoot through the roof in devy and C2C leagues this off-season.
Current Devy Value: Fifth Round
Alabama (12-1) Vs. Cincinnati (13-0)
WR Ja´Corey Brooks (FR) 6´2″ 190lbs
Alabama has been decimated by injuries this season. They have lost John Metchie III for the season, and it is still unknown if freshman JoJo Earle will play Friday. If he doesn’t, there will be a lot of pressure on freshman receiver Ja’Corey Brooks. Brooks has five receptions for 79 yards and one touchdown this season. His best game was against Auburn, where he scored the tying touchdown down the stretch and showed his elite athleticism. Brooks is a gifted athlete who played at powerhouse IMG last season. He exhibits an excellent catch point and has the quickness to get off the line against press coverage. With all the injuries and fellow freshman receiver Agiye Hall disappointing this season, Brooks can vault himself into WR2 on the depth chart with two good games. He should get plenty of opportunities against Cincinnati and, in my opinion, is a dark horse to lead the team in receiving.
Current Devy Value: Fifth Round
RB Brian Robinson Jr. (SR) 6´1″ 225lbs
Robinson has had a fantastic season for the Crimson Tide. Coming into 2021, many thought Robinson would lose his job to Jase McClellan, Trey Sanders, or even Roydell Williams. While injuries in the running back room helped Robinson a bit, you can’t exclude the fact he rushed for 1,071 yards on 223 carries and scored fourteen touchdowns. Alabama leaned on him heavily this season, especially when the passing offense wasn’t clicking. He’s shown that he can be an inside runner, and he has good enough vision to run in both zone and gap reads. He’s a strong runner who exhibits toughness inside, and he can also catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s not a strong route runner, but he has above-average hands. Robinson also checks all the intangible boxes. He’s a great pass blocker, and that’s one of the reasons he never leaves the field. He’ll never be a burner in the NFL but should provide teams with depth and a good inside runner. Think Zamir White but with a bigger frame. If he can run consistently well in the playoff and plays well enough, we could see him move up into Day 2 of the NFL draft.
Current Rookie Draft Value: Mid/Late Third
QB Desmond Ridder (SR) 6´4″ 215lbs
If he leads Cincinnati to the National Title, Desmond Ridder is the type of quarterback that the NFL will fall in love with. That would mean he beat two top-ten defenses with NFL talent if he does. That’s proving something to a lot of naysayers. Ridder led Cincinnati to an undefeated season throwing for 3,190 yards and thirty touchdowns while having only eight interceptions. He also was able to add 361 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Ridder has the arm talent needed for the next level as a quarterback. He also has excellent functional athleticism that allows him to easily maneuver in the pocket and create more time for his receivers to get open. He has excellent pocket awareness and can slip out of the pocket. When he does that, he can use his mobility where he is an outstanding runner. There are no physical limitations in his game. Where the criticism does lie for Ridder is his accuracy and decision-making. There are just too many times that he can’t hit tight windows or passes come up just short. Those types of throws won’t work at the NFL level. He also tends to trust his arm talent more than the right reads. His game against Alabama is the biggest of his career. If he plays well and limits his turnovers, some NFL team will fall in love with his upside and take a shot on him in the first round. If he struggles, he may knock himself out of Day 2 contention.
Current Rookie Draft Value: Mid/Late Second
RB Jerome Ford (JR) 5´11″ 220lbs
One player wants to beat Alabama more than any other, and that is Jerome Ford. This year, former Alabama running back has had a tremendous season, rushing for 1,242 yards and nineteen touchdowns. He has been Cincinnati’s most reliable player, and they have leaned on him this season. Right now, Ford finds himself in that middle tier of draft prospects like Robinson Jr. and Haskins. Ford’s a downhill runner that hits holes hard and may have the best speed of the second-level prospects that we have looked at. He has a great combination of balance, power, and speed when you watch him run. There are multiple highlights of him getting hit but staying low enough to break tackles and work his way into the endzone. He also does a great job of manipulating defenders at the line of scrimmage and using a quick first step to hit his holes. The critical question that I want to see answered is can he run against top-level defenses. He’s been tearing up the American conference, but that’s not saying much. Let’s see what he can do against Alabama. We will see his value rise if he can produce against the Crimson Tide.
Current Rookie Draft Value: Late Second/Early Third