2018 Fantasy Football: Top 20 Developmental Players

Fantasy Football Expert Riley Bymaster provides his top 20 Developmental Rankings as we approach the 2018 season!

Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Check out the top 20 developmental Fantasy Football players.

1. RB David Montgomery, Iowa State

  • 5’11” 219 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Montgomery looks to build off of an impressive 2017 season in which he totaled nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in addition to almost 300 yards receiving. With an intriguing all-around skill set, Montgomery has all the tools to be an impact NFL running back from day one. His combination of power, speed, and agility makes him the most exciting devy player in the coming years.

  • NFL Comparison: Maurice Jones-Drew
  • NFL Draft Projection: 1st Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.01-1.03

2. WR Bryan Edwards, South Carolina

  • 6’3” 215 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Edwards possesses the most NFL-ready traits of any receiver in the NCAA. Despite his at best above average production, he looks to showcase his strong hands, efficient route running, and excellent body control for Gamecocks in 2018. Should he be able to produce bigger numbers, the hype train should begin rolling sooner than later. Don’t be afraid to take Edwards as the number one devy receiver. He will not disappoint.

  • NFL Comparison: AJ Green
  • NFL Draft Projection: Late 1st Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.02-1.04

3. WR AJ Brown, Ole Miss

  • 6’1” 225 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Brown put on an absolute show in 2017, piling up 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns on 75 receptions in only 11 games for the Rebels. Brown is one of the most exciting prospects at the receiver position and is ready to contribute in the NFL. He shows strong hands in contested catch situations and is tough to bring down in the open field. Brown is not shifty or elusive in the open field, but he does create separation on underneath routes and makes all necessary catches. Because he is comfortable playing from both the slot and outside, Brown is an NFL-ready athlete who will be a solid dynasty asset.

  • NFL Comparison: Jordy Nelson
  • NFL Draft Projection: Mid-late 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.05-1.07

4. RB Miles Sanders, Penn State

  • 5’11” 209 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Sanders is finally going to be the lead back after Saquon Barkley took the next step into the NFL. Sanders has a three-down skill set with several NFL-ready traits. His jump cuts and elusiveness could step into an NFL role tomorrow, and he would win against elite defenders. Sanders is undervalued today but expect him to become a blue-chip talent before the season ends.

  • NFL Comparison: Joe Mixon
  • NFL Draft Projection: Early 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.03-1.06

5. RB Cam Akers, Florida State

  • 5’11” 213 lbs | Eligible: 2020

Akers showed extremely well as a true freshman in 2017 and is expected to be the featured piece of the Seminole offense once again this season. After notching a 1,000-yard rushing season on just 194 carries, Akers is widely thought to be the best young running back in college football. His straight-line speed and bowling ball-style will absolutely translate to the NFL and will prove to be an excellent dynasty asset for years to come.

  • NFL Comparison: Mark Ingram
  • NFL Draft Projection: 1st Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.01-1.02

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6. RB JK Dobbins, Ohio State

  • 5’10” 208 lbs | Eligible: 2020

Bursting onto the scene in 2017, Dobbins showed his ability to handle the workload early and provided an instant bell-cow role for the Ohio State offense. He racked up over 1,500 yards from scrimmage on just 216 touches, averaging out to just over seven yards per touch. Despite his shorter frame, Dobbins displays amazing elusiveness while occasionally running through bulky linebackers. Once again, he will be the centerpiece of the Buckeye offense and look to improve on his already high devy expectations.

  • NFL Comparison: Sony Michel
  • NFL Draft Projection: Early 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.03-1.05

7. RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

  • 5’11” 214 lbs | Eligible: 2020

Taylor’s true freshman season seems as if he played himself on PlayStation, instead real-life Big 10 defenses. With his 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns on 299 carries, he finished sixth place in the Heisman race and put his name on every NFL scout’s radar. Taylor’s ability to consistently gain four and five yards on every carry is a unique and great trait to possess. His homerun potential in addition to consistency makes him one of the best devy prospects to own.

  • NFL Comparison: Alex Collins
  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.02-1.05

8. RB DeAndre Swift, Georgia

  • 5’9” 215 lbs | Eligible: 2020

Swift saw limited snaps during his true freshman season, largely in part due to seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel handling the workload. In his little time on the field, Swift showed what he will bring to table in 2018. His quickness and subtle power inside his short frame is due to produce monster stats this coming season. Look for Swift to become a household name in both NFL and dynasty circles.

  • NFL Comparison: Lamar Miller
  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.03-1.05

9. WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State

  • 6’4” 216 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Harry may be listed at 6’4” 216 pounds but looks and plays more like 6’3” 195 pounds. Thought to be the consensus top devy prospect, Harry lacks the polishing of an NFL receiver. He often struggles to create separation and is a weak run blocker. He does however have an uncanny presence along the sideline and can stop on a dime at the end of his routes. Harry is full of projection but needs to show more on tape before rising atop the devy ranks.

  • NFL Comparison: Robby Anderson
  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.06-1.09

TAPE: Why is Harry lower on my board?

The first play, beginning at 2:41, Harry takes the snap as the wildcat quarterback and eventually rolls out down the right sideline in hopes of fooling the defense. Although the defense reads the play well, Harry is unable to create separation, which allows the defender to make a play on the pass. He must become better at separating before making his case to be a true number one receiver.

10. WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

  • 6’1” 190 lbs | Eligible: 2020

Jeudy garnered a ton of hype going into his true freshman season where he played a minimal role in their National Championship run. Jeudy will play a significant role in the 2018 offense when he replaces 2018 first round pick Calvin Ridley. With a similar play style to Ridley, expect Jeudy to slide right in and contribute immediately as a go-to receiver for head coach Nick Saban. Jeudy’s route running and ability to create separation will hold a spot in the NFL for years to come.

  • NFL Comparison: Keenan Allen
  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.04-1.08

11. WR Juwan Johnson, Penn State

  • 6’2” 225 lbs | Eligible: 2019

At first glance at his stats, Johnson produced mediocre numbers in 2017 but when its taken into consideration that Saquon Barkley, DaeSean Hamilton, and Mike Gesicki were the focal points of the offense, Johnson’s numbers look much better. He has a good, projectable frame and looks to polish his skill set during his junior season. He shows clean footwork along the sideline and good hands with cornerbacks draped all over him. Look for Johnson to be one of the biggest risers during this coming college season.

  • NFL Comparison: Corey Davis
  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.10-2.01

12. RB Damien Harris, Alabama

  • 5’11” 220 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Harris has quietly been one of the most consistent producers in college football over the past two seasons, totaling 1,000 yards in both his sophomore and junior seasons. His all-around skill set is frequently displayed with his quick burst though the hole and combination of agility and tackle-breaking ability. Harris will keep a significant role in the offense, despite rising sophomore Najee Harris looking to break onto the scene. Damien is shaping up to be an extremely undervalued asset heading into the 2018 season.

  • NFL Comparison: Mike Gillislee
  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 2.01-2.04
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13. WR Collin Johnson, Texas

  • 6’6” 220 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Johnson is a massive human being with an equally large upside at the next level. Though his up-to-date production is mediocre at best, he looks to play a large role in the 2018 Texas offense. With a similar skill set to a certain 2nd round 2018 NFL draft pick, Johnson has an extremely wide catch radius and is sneaky elusive with the football in his hands. He is great in contested catch situations, but his route running needs to sharpen before successfully playing against NFL-caliber cornerbacks. Johnson is filled with upside, so he is most definitely worth a stash in any devy format.

  • NFL Comparison: Courtland Sutton
  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 2.02-2.05

14. RB Bryce Love, Stanford

  • 5’10” 196 | Eligible: 2019

Love was thought to have been a shew-in for the 2018 draft but decided to return for his senior season. Finishing second in the 2017 Heisman race, Love totaled an eye-popping 2,118 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in a video game-like season. Love is likely to regress just a bit this coming season but is a lock to be considered a top running back in the 2019 class. Love has good speed and acceleration from the handoff and displays his good patience while waiting for lanes to open. He is a space player inside and out, needing to be in space in order to be most successful. Expect his numbers from last season to could the heart-eyes of dynasty and devy owners, so unless he lands in the perfect situation next year, Love might be a bit overvalued at this point in time.

  • NFL Comparison: Ameer Abdullah
  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 2.03-2.06

TAPE: Why is he a “space player?”

In the first play at 0:06, Love lines up at halfback in the strong-I formation. As the quarterback takes the snap and tosses the ball to Love, the play concept is not a normal sweep or toss play. The pitch is straight backwards, allowing Love to feel as if he has the ball in space. Once he receives the ball, Love is patient (no pun intended) and allows his pull-blocker to lead the way for a big gain. He uses his speed and acceleration to turn the corner and pick up a big chuck of yards. This is a unique style of running play, but one that most definitely works for the Heisman nominee.

At 3:09, Love lines up on the quarterback’s left hip. He will receive the handoff where the center and left tackle both pull to the right side of the offensive line. Love hesitates for a second in hopes of a bigger hole opening and pushes forward for about a three-yard gain. The box was full of defenders as the Oregon D came out in a 5-2 base, which is designed to clog the running game. This shows how much more comfortable Love is in space than he is in traffic.

15. WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami

  • 6’1” 190 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Richards is a projectable receiver filled with upside and will be a solid NFL contributor if he can successfully bounce back from an injury-riddled 2017 season. He showed well as a true freshman in 2016, finishing with 934 yards and three touchdowns on 49 receptions. His tall and slinky frame bode well when he is forced to reach for inaccurate passes, but he often relies on his arms to separate instead of his route running. Richards has a quick burst off the line but needs to refine he breaks before making an elite impact at the next level. Depending on his 2018 campaign, Richards could a big riser during this next calendar year.

  • NFL Comparison: Robert Woods
  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 2.05-2.07

16. WR Donavon Peoples-Jones, Michigan

  • 6’2” 199 lbs | Eligible: 2020

Peoples-Jones looks to build off of a typical freshman season in which he did not score and tallied just 277 yards receiving on 22 receptions. He has fantastic speed and explosiveness, where he contributes in the return game as well. He is a very elusive ball carrier and is a threat to score on any play. Once we see more of him as a receiver in 2018, he will quickly rise on all devy big boards.

  • NFL Comparison: Mike Wallace
  • NFL Draft Projection: 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.06-1.08

17. WR DK Metcalf, Ole Miss

  • 6’4” 220 lbs  | Eligible: 2019

Metcalf is the other exciting half of the Ole Miss receiving duo. After a decent 2017 season, he looks to have an AJ Brown-like year of production in hopes of living up to his devy hype. Metcalf shows good speed and explosiveness and is comfortable playing across all levels of the field. He needs to clean his route running and be more consistent catching the ball before proving his worth at the next level. Though we have not seen the whole story just yet, Metcalf is an exciting devy asset to hold during this offseason.

  • NFL Comparison: Allen Hurns
  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 2.03-2.06

18. WR Kelvin Harmon, NC State

  • 6’3” 215 lbs | Eligible: 2019

Harmon already has several truthers in the devy community, so do not expect his value to unexpectedly rise throughout the 2018 campaign. Harmon profiles as a good red zone threat as he high-points the football very well. He does not get off press coverage very well as his hands are soft in fighting off defenders’ jams. A high touchdown total in 2018 would not be surprising, the NFL role is there should he polish his game. There is no elite potential here, but a serviceable touchdown producer in the NFL is not out of reach.

  • NFL Comparison: Devin Funchess
  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 2.02-2.05

19. RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma

  • 6’2” 218 lbs | Eligible: 2019

After playing in just two games during his freshman season, Anderson burst onto the scene and totaled 1,442 yards and 18 touchdowns from scrimmage. Anderson showed extremely well in the Rose Bowl against Georgia and proved he could run against a stout SEC defense. He displayed his quick change of direction and homerun speed while looking comfortable running between and outside of the tackles. Although his pass protection needs work, Anderson profiles as an exciting player who has a chance to make a significant impact in an NFL offense.

  • NFL Comparison: Kenyan Drake
  • NFL Draft Projection: 3rd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 2.06-2.09

20. WR Tee Higgins, Clemson

  • 6’4” 190 lbs | Eligible: 2020

Higgins displayed his explosiveness during his freshman season with his 345 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 receptions. With Deon Cain out of the picture, Higgins is looking to add on to his incredible 20 yards per reception with a starting role this coming season. He is an all-around receiver with upside through the roof, but he needs to work on separating from opposing cornerbacks. Look for Higgins to prove himself this coming season and establish himself as an elite deep threat for the future.

  • NFL Comparison: Martavis Bryant
  • NFL Draft Projection: Late 2nd Round
  • Dynasty Stock Projection: 1.08-1.10

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