College football is where all the NFL prospects come from and watching prospects put up a show every Saturday is awesome. As dynasty fantasy football players we are all trying to evaluate and determine which prospects will succeed in the NFL. What better way to evaluate prospects than when they face off against each other in huge clashes of top 15, top 10, and sometimes even top 5 teams. This College Football Week 2 Preview won’t disappoint. We have a PAC-12 rivalry between two top 15 teams in USC and Stanford and the weekend’s headliner is the epic clash between #2 Ohio State and #5 Oklahoma. Both of these matchups are chalk full of future NFL players and it’s time to sit back, relax, and watch the best of college football go at each other.
College Football Week 2 Preview
#6 USC vs #14 Stanford
Sam Darnold, QB, USC – Sam Darnold has been widely viewed as the best QB prospect in college for nearly a year. In fact, football twitter would have had you believe Darnold is the New York Jets savior at QB, that is before he ran into the buzz-saw defense of Western Michigan. Oh wait, that’s right, the Broncos are a MAC team that the Trojans and Darnold should’ve run all over.
Stanford has a truly good defense, one that held Rice University (albeit, not top tier talent) to a mere 241 total yards offense two weeks ago in Australia. Darnold bears watching as a consensus top QB prospect for week 2, but this could already be a make or break type of game. Darnold needs to make adjustments from Week 1 and get used to not having a safety net of JuJu Smith-Schuster. Will we see the Darnold that threw for 31 TDs vs 9 picks in 2016 or the one who threw 2 INTs vs Western Michigan.
Ronald Jones, RB, USC – Ronald Jones is one of the more electrifying players in college football. Whereas Darnold struggled against Western Michigan, Jones continued his momentum from 2016, posting a strong 18/159/3 rushing line and adding 19 more yards through the air. Listed at 6’, 200 lbs, Jones has the requisite size to be an NFL starter. This week he faces a stout Stanford run defense that will try hard to contain him on the ground. A potentially underutilized facet of Jones’ game is his pass catching ability. With 19 career receptions in 3 years, Jones hasn’t quite shown the receiving ability NFL teams (and fantasy players) look for in their featured backs.
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford – Explosive. That’s the best way to describe Stanford’s new RB. On his very carry of the collegiate season, Love burst through a hole in the Rice defense for a 62 yard gain, breaking 3 arm tackles along the way. Love finished that game against Rice averaging 13.8 YPC for 180 yards on 13 carries. The way Bryce Love play is reminiscent of the recently drafted Christian McCaffery. Love uses his speed and short strides to set up his change of direction, much like McCaffery does.
As an NFL prospect, Love is a smaller back at 5’ 10”, 196 lbs, but such backs with other elite skills can easily find an NFL role. Love has 4 more career receptions than Jones, 23, in the same amount of time, but with 15 receptions as a true freshman, it’s clear the Stanford coaches trust him to catch passes and do good things.
Connor Wedington, RB, Stanford – Wedington, a true freshman, is listed as an RB but was utilized like a WR against Rice, catching 6 passes for 82 yards. Against Rice, Wedington saw snaps early and responded nicely, making a couple of good catches off of excellent routes. However Stanford decides to use him, Wedington looks to be a diverse weapon with good size 6’ 0”, 189 lbs, by the time he is draft eligible. If Stanford uses him as an RB, he could be a high level receiving back or a good WR 2. Wedington bears watching as he develops through his collegiate career.
Cameron Scarlett, RB, Stanford – Scarlett is bigger than Bryce Love, standing 6’ 1”, 213 lbs, and he scored 3 TDs against Rice to Love’s 1 TD. Two of Scarlett’s TD run came inside the 2-yard line and he looks to be more of a goal-line type back.
#2 Ohio State vs #5 Oklahoma
JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State – Any discussion of Ohio State’s offense will start with JT Barrett. The senior is a Heisman candidate, but the way he succeeds in college isn’t quite conducive to NFL success. Barrett has 504 career rushes and 549 career pass completions in Ohio State’s option heavy offense. When he throws, Barrett isn’t a real threat to go deep with a career 7.6 Yards/Attempt and he’s not much more explosive on the ground as a career 5 Yard per carry runner. To be a viable NFL starter or even backup, Barrett needs to improve his 61% completion rate from 2016. Against Indiana in Week 1, however, Barrett continued to struggle, only completing 57% of his 35 passes. Barrett is worth continuing to watch this season as a college player, but at this point, it’d be a surprise if he was drafted higher than former teammate Cardale Jones, who was selected 139th overall (4th round)
JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State – Dobbins is a true freshman right and he just put up 181 yards on 29 carries against Indiana. Anyone who has a performance like that in his first career college action immediately jumps on the dynasty radar, even if he isn’t draft eligible until 2020. Dobbins is 5’ 8”, 208, so there’s no question about his lower body power and strength for an RB, even as a freshman. Dobbins showed an exciting variety of moves off, breaking arm tackles and showing good awareness on cutbacks. In a few years, the dynasty football community could be talking about Dobbins the way we talk about Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice right now.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma – It’s exciting to watch Baker Mayfield at work. He creates offense, there’s no other way to put it. Watching him improvise is similar to the way, wait for it, Russell Wilson plays in the NFL. When things go bad they can just sort of run around with their eyes downfield and either tuck and run, or they find an open receiver. The biggest knock against Baker’s NFL prospects will be his size (6’ 1”) and the Oklahoma offense. Oklahoma does run a spread offense that relies heavily on screens and quick reads, but Mayfield makes it more than that. Against UTEP, Mayfield had a couple of plays where he stood in the pocket through his reads and finally checking the ball down to the open RB for a substantial gain. Mayfield’s creative ability is off the charts and if he can improve his ball placement throughout this season, he could be a 2nd/3rd NFL pick turned into a quality starter.
USC/Stanford and Ohio State/Oklahoma might be the marquee matchups of the weekend, but Sam Darnold, Bryce Love, Baker Mayfield, and co. aren’t the only NFL prospects in action this weekend.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville vs North Carolina – Baker Mayfield creates offense, but Lamar Jackson IS offense. The reigning Heisman winner got off to a great start in his junior campaign with nearly 500 yards of offense against Purdue. Jackson can run the ball, but the most common skill knocks against Jackson in 2016 were his accuracy and footwork, which led to a 56% completion rate. That must improve for Jackson to get serious NFL consideration and his accuracy (65%) was much more improved against Purdue. Sit back and relax as Jackson continues to wow with his athletic talent and passing ability.
Adam Breneman, TE, Massachusetts vs Old Dominion – Breneman is almost a complete unknown in college football, but through 2 games the senior has 305 yards at 16.9 Yards per Catch. This dude is a 6’ 5”, 255 lbs monster at the TE position with big play ability, not a common attribute. In 2016, he posted a 70/808/8 receiving line, production that outpaced 2016 1st rounders OJ Howard and David Njoku. The 2016 class of TEs looks to be a revelation in terms of rookie production and Breneman could be the next TE to be taken highly. UMass is an Independent school so they don’t play a ‘conference’ schedule, but they do face off against #25 Tennessee and #21 USF midway through the season and those games will be the best competition Breneman faces in 2017.
Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State vs Abilene Christian – Gallup is a 6’ 1”, 200 lbs, senior coming off of a 76/1272/14 season. He’s not the fastest WR, but he has a long stride that that eats up distance, almost like…he’s galloping. When Colorado State played Oregon State to open up their seasons, Gallup had a huge game (11 catches for 134 yards) and just ate up the OSU DBs with precise routes. In Week 2 against Colorado, Gallup matched up with the Buffaloes top CB prospect, Isaiah Oliver. It was a pretty even battle, but Gallup was able to showcase his athleticism with 22 of 67 total receiving yards coming after the catch. In the offseason, dynasty owners will see Michael Gallup shoot up rookie and mock draft boards as more and more people identify him as a polished WR with legitimate deep skills.