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Ahead of the Game - 2019 College Football Prospect Previews


There are two ways to handle the ending of rookie drafts in your dynasty leagues. You can either be sad that you won't have another shot at a young player for 12 months or you can begin looking at the next crop of talent that you'll be choosing. Ok... I mean, I guess you can see the end of drafts as the first sign of the upcoming regular season, but for prospect scouts, it's the perfect time to stay ahead of the game and begin researching players a year out from draft eligibility.

And over the course of the season, I'll be taking a look at some 2019 draft-eligible players and breaking down their potential on the next level. Some weeks will focus on players at the tops of the draft while others will shine a spotlight on some under the radar players who could make a leap during their final year.

But today, I'll kick it off with five near-consensus first-round fantasy talents. And if you thought the last two seasons were disappointing because of the lack of premier WR talent, then 2019 is the class for you. Not only does there appear to be a few great prospects, but there's more depth than in most years. Unlike 2018, drafts are unlikely to dry up after round one.

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Devy Prospects to Know

N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State

There are real questions about the Arizona State coaching regime now that Herm Edwards has returned to the college ranks after a multi-decade absence and a long-term absence from coaching altogether, but there's no question who the premier prospect is on the team.

Harry returns for his junior season following a 82 reception season during which he accumulated 1,142 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Rec Yards YPR TDs MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2016 58 659 11.4 5 0.21 0.32 0.27
2017 82 1142 13.9 8 0.34 0.38 0.36

Entering his junior season, Harry has a 0.277 market share of yards for his career. If he retains a similar level of usage from 2017, he'll easily surpass the critical 0.29 threshold that typically indicates future success for WRs entering the draft. He's yet to have a truly dominant season, but if his upward trajectory continues, there will be no question about his production at the collegiate level.

Harry will enter the season at the age of 20 and won't turn 21 until December. Using 0.30 dominator as the threshold for a breakout season, Harry's age 19 breakout bodes well for him as a prospect. Early draft projections have Harry as a first round selection as the top overall WR in the class, but even if he's not the top overall WR, he should be one of the top overall rookie picks in 2019.

A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi

With the pending school sanctions for the Mississippi program and allowance for free transfer without losing a season of eligibility, there was some early excitement for the potential exit from the program for Brown. But he chose to return to the team for his junior season and he'll look to build on his 2017 campaign that saw him account for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Rec Yards YPR TDs MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2017 75 1252 16.7 11 0.32 0.4 0.36

Working against Brown is that he only has one season of productivity, but it was a big season as he eclipsed the 0.3 dominator threshold for a breakout season at the age of 20. Additionally, Brown must compete for targets with fellow highly regarded prospect DK Metcalf which could hinder his ceiling usage.

Brown enters the season at age 21 as one of the higher anticipated players in the country and while he won't be an old prospect to the level of Calvin Ridley, he also won't be among the youngest in the class. Because Brown is unlikely to have a dominant final season, he could see his value dip before 2019 rookie drafts, but he enters this year as a top 2 prospect.

Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State

N.C. State is likely in need of a shift in their offensive focus with the exits of Jaylen Samuels and Nyheim Hines, but lucky for coach Dave Doeren, he is left with his potential NFL QB Ryan Finley, and superstar WR Kelvin Harmon. Samuels may have led the team in receptions with 75, but with 6 fewer receptions, Harmon accumulated more than 400 additional yards.

Rec Yards YPR TDs MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2016 27 462 17.1 5 0.14 0.26 0.2
2017 69 1017 14.7 4 0.28 0.24 0.26

In keeping with our standards for a breakout, Harmon enters 2018 without a breakout season, but he will be 20 for the majority of the season so a breakout wouldn't be seen as overly late.  With the exit of Samuels, it's fair to expect an improvement in Harmon's market share of yards and if he can absorb some of Samuels 4 touchdowns, he could improve his overall dominator rating.

For Harmon to jump into the conversation with Harry or Brown from a production standpoint, he'd likely need to improve his yardage efficiency and score a few extra touchdowns. But with his ideal size, if he can put together another productive season, Harmon will solidify himself as a top-eight pick in 2019 rookie drafts.

Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina

Unlike some of the names of this list, Edwards didn't enter the season as a widely known name in the fantasy community. Sure, the devy and CFB scouts were salivating over his potential, but he entered 2017 behind Deebo Samuel and Hayden Hurst as the top receiving options. And while Samuel is returning, Hurst is gone and there's nearly 50 receptions to be distributed.

Rec Yards YPR TDs MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2016 44 590 13.4 4 0.21 0.34 0.28
2017 64 793 12.4 5 0.28 0.27 0.28

Edwards hasn't fully broken out, but his market share and dominator numbers clearly show a receiver who is a big part of the offense. Somewhat holding back Edwards' raw numbers is a relatively stagnant passing offense. In both 2016 and 2017, the offense has failed to eclipse 3,000 total passing yards and, as you'd expect, Edwards yardage number pale in comparison to the top receivers.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Edwards brings ideal size and he'll likely be among the youngest receivers in the draft class as he won't turn 20 until November. If the offense can continue to take steps forward in the passing game and he commands a significant share, there will be a case that he belongs with the top-two WR prospects in the class.

Ahmmon Richards, WR, Miami

Ahmmon Richards' story currently is incomplete. He's been a highly touted prospect since arriving at the Miami campus and his freshman season had scouts joyfully looking to the future and his NFL potential, but his 2017 campaign was cut short.

Rec Yards YPR TDs MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2016 49 934 19.1 3 0.26 0.11 0.19
2017 24 439 18.3 3 0.14 0.11 0.12

Richards hasn't come close to breaking out which raises concerns about where his career market share will end up. Even adjusting his share of yards for the 7 games he played in 2017, he only accounts for 21 percent of the team's total. Barring a major shift in his direction, it's unlikely he'll reach the ideal 0.29 career market share. And in spite of his big play potential, Richards hasn't even paced for a double digit touchdown season in either of his first two seasons.

But it's definitely not all bad for Richards. Of the top five, Richards' 18.3 YPR was the best in 2017 and his career 18.8 YPR is more than two yards better than the next closest. In short, Richards will likely draw the attention of NFL scout for his ability to stretch the field. There's not a clear path to the top WR for Richards barring a truly dominant season or injury to one of the others, but he's a name to keep an eye on who will likely be a late-first in 2019.

 

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