The DFS Prospects Bowl Guide series breaks down draft-eligible players in upcoming bowl games, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential.
Earlier this season I put out a piece on the DFS merits of NFL prospect evaluation. It’s important for DFS players to know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. If someone had told you in May to pay attention to Jamaal Williams, Samaje Perine, and Dede Westbrook as rookies, would that information have been worthwhile? Would it have gotten you to subscribe to FantasyLabs? (The answer should be “yes.”)
Keep an eye out for more installments of DFS Prospects Bowl Guide as we move further into bowl season.
Las Vegas Bowl: Saturday, Dec. 16
Boise State (10-3, No. 25) takes on Oregon (7-5) at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV. This game features two notable prospects. One of them is a fairly popular player who could be selected with a top-100 pick. The other is a relatively unknown pass catcher with the potential to become a big-time NFL contributor.
Royce Freeman: Running Back, Oregon
Freeman is the definition of a workhorse. The Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year in 2014, Freeman was so dominant in his first year at Oregon that the coaching staff shifted Byron Marshall — a 1,000-yard rusher the previous season — to wide receiver. Freeman and quarterback Marcus Mariota formed a dynamic backfield duo that led the Ducks to the College Football Championship as Freeman rushed for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns. The next year, Freeman became the focal point of the Mariota-less offense, rushing for 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns and chipping in 26 receptions for 348 more yards. After an injury-impacted junior campaign (in which he still had 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns), Freeman returned to his studly form as a senior, rushing for 1,475 yards and 16 touchdowns in 12 games. As of writing, Freeman is deciding whether he’ll play in the bowl game. He might choose not to risk an injury.
UPDATE: Freeman has decided not to play in the bowl game.
Still just 21 years old, Freeman is blessed with elite size (6’0″ and 238 pounds) and good speed (4.58-second 40 in 2013). A five-star recruit, Freeman was one of the top high school running backs in California, rushing for 7,601 yards and 111 touchdowns. With his pedigree, size, athleticism, raw production, and receiving ability, Freeman is comparable to Carlos Hyde, Jordan Howard, and maybe even Leonard Fournette. One of the few backs in major college history with three 1,350-15 rushing campaigns, Freeman could be selected as early as the second round if he tests well at the combine.
Cedrick Wilson: Wide Receiver, Boise State
The internet isn’t totally sure whether his first name is “Cedrick” or “Cedric”: That‘s how under the radar he is. Wilson likely won’t be selected before the fourth round — the NFL won’t like his non-Power Five pedigree and lack of bulk (188 pounds) — but he has good height (6’3″) and an NFL heritage: Cedrick Wilson, Sr., played in the league for seven years and won a Super Bowl with the Steelers in 2005. A high school quarterback, Wilson went the junior college route and converted to wide receiver and return man at Coffeyville Community College. After learning the position as a freshman (and still catching 10 touchdowns in his first season), Wilson broke out as a sophomore, turning 66 receptions into 1,045 yards and 17 touchdowns in just nine games.
As a Junior College All-American, Wilson was recruited to Boise State, where he immediately became a big-play receiver for the Broncos, balling out with a 1,129-11 season while averaging 20.2 yards (and 7.7 yards after the catch) per reception (Pro Football Focus). He was second out of all 2018 draft-eligible wide receivers with his 3.74 yards per route. Even though Boise State has dealt with issues at quarterback, Wilson has continued to play well, accumulating 73 receptions and 1,290 yards. Across his three non-transitional seasons, Wilson has averaged 101.9 yards and one touchdown receiving per game in 34 contests. So much will depend on how he tests in pre-draft workouts — if he’s thin and slow, his prospects will be bleaker than a Dickens novel — but if he exhibits good athleticism at the combine he will look very much like a Robby Anderson-esque player entering the NFL.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Saturday, Dec. 16
Marshall (7-5) and Colorado State (7-5) face off at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, NM, home of “Blue Sky.” Other than taking the opportunity to swing by 308 Negra Arroyo Lane and pay homage to one of the great chefs of our day, there’s only one reason anyone not affiliated with either of the schools would travel to watch this game: To see CSU’s No. 1 receiver.
Michael Gallup: Wide Receiver, Colorado State
A Biletnikoff finalist, Gallup is one of the top wideouts in the country and a potential top-60 pick. Even though as a high school student he was recruited by some Southeastern Conference institutions, Gallup started his college career at Butler CC, leading his team as an 18-year-old freshman with 44 receptions, 780 yards, and 11 touchdowns. He missed all but three games of his sophomore campaign with an ankle injury, but he leveraged his first-year dominance into a number of scholarship offers, and he committed to CSU evidently because he’s a fan of Peter Jennings. Once on campus Gallup immediately became the team’s top receiver and was one of the best wideouts of the 2016 season, turning 76 receptions into 1,272 yards and 14 touchdowns. His market share numbers were especially impressive, as he captured 40.0 and 48.3 percent of his team’s receiving yards and touchdowns. Of all the 2018 draft-eligible receivers, he was first with 4.34 yards per route.
While Gallup’s touchdown total has dropped to seven this year, he has even more receptions and yards with 94 and 1,350, and he’s currently PFF’s No. 1 wide receiver, sporting a 92.0 positional grade. A big-play threat, Gallup has the ability to accrue yards after the catch, as he’s fourth among wide receivers with 20 missed tackles forced this season. After his final game Gallup will enter the draft process as a 21-year-old with a long history of production and a reputation as a well-rounded receiver. As long as he’s not a nonathletic sloth who’s smaller than his listed size (6’1″ and 200 pounds), Gallup will have a real opportunity to be selected on the second day of the draft as a Robert Woods type of prospect.