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.
- Part 1: Royce Freeman Looks Like a Future Star
- Part 2: Courtland Sutton Is a First-Round Receiver
- Part 3: Rashaad Penny Has NFL Workhorse Upside
- Part 4: Is Josh Rosen Worth the No. 1 Overall Pick?
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl: Wednesday, Dec. 27
Get excited. It’s not every day that Southern Mississippi (8-4) travels to Shreveport, LA, to face Florida State (6-6).
Auden Tate: Wide Receiver, Florida State
Tate is the type of player my method of analysis tends not to like: He’s three years into his college career, and he’s yet to have even 500 yards or eight touchdowns in a season. He will, however, be popular in a few sharp draftnik circles if he declares for the 2018 draft because he’s big (6’5″ and 225 pounds) and young (20 years old) and perhaps his relative lack of production this year (35 receptions for 464 yards and seven touchdowns) can be partially excused due to the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Deondre Francois (patella) in the first game of the season: Backup quarterback James Blackman has played well for a true freshman, but the Seminoles have only 17 passing touchdowns. Everything considered, Tate has done well to capture 43.8 percent of the receiving touchdowns in the 11 games he’s played.
Even though he’s done little in his career — zero receptions as a freshman, 25 receptions for 409 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore — Tate reportedly will declare for the draft following the departure of long-time FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher. It’s possible that Tate could have a good final season if he stays, but new HC Willie Taggart is known more for his productive running backs — Bobby Rainey, Antonio Andrews, Marlon Mack, and Royce Freeman — than his wide receivers. Tate actually might not fit all that well into Taggart’s offensive system and perhaps should enter the draft early. If Tate exhibits good athleticism at the combine he will likely be touted as a big-and-young Devin Funchess-esque developmental project with long-term potential and red-zone jump-ball skills worthy of a selection on the second day of the draft.
Korey Robertson: Wide Receiver, Southern Mississippi
A 22-year-old redshirt junior, Robertson isn’t likely to declare early for the draft, but he’s the type of player I like because he’ll be undervalued: The NFL tends not to be high on Group of Five prospects who entered college with only two or three stars as recruits. While Robertson’s lack of hype as a high school player suggests that his athleticism is average at best, he has Davante Adams-ian size (6’2″ and 210 pounds), and in his first full season as a starter he’s turned 72 receptions into 1,070 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 35.8 and 47.8 percent of the team’s receiving yards and scores. That’s near-elite production. Whenever he goes through the draft process, Robertson is unlikely to be selected before Day 3 — if he’s selected at all — but his odds of becoming a reliable NFL contributor will almost certainly be higher than those implied by his draft capital.
Ito Smith: Running Back, Southern Mississippi
Smith is an underhyped prospect, but the 22-year-old has been invited to the Senior Bowl and will likely gain more recognition throughout the draft process. After starting six games as a true freshman and then playing in an uber-productive committee with the senior Jalen Richard as a sophomore, Smith has been the Golden Eagles primary back for the past two years. In his three full seasons as an every-game contributor Smith has averaged 134.7 yards and 1.21 touchdowns per game over 39 contests.
What makes Smith especially dynamic is his receiving ability, as he has 136 receptions for 1,420 yards and seven touchdowns receiving for his career. In fact, since at least 2000 he’s the only college player with at least 4,400 yards rushing and 1,400 yards receiving. Smith doesn’t have workhorse size (5’9″ and 195 pounds), but he reportedly has good athleticism (4.40-second 40). Given his small school pedigree, versatility, production, and physical profile, Smith looks like a Day 3 selection with the potential to contribute immediately as a change-of-pace and third-down back.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Wednesday, Dec. 27
Iowa (7-5) travels to New York, NY, to face Boston College (7-5) at Yankee Stadium. Whatever the line is for this game, it’s probably not low enough. Our friends at Sports Action have some thoughts on this game as well as all the other post-Christmas bowl games.
Akrum Wadley: Running Back, Iowa
A fifth-year Big Ten lead back, Wadley is a relatively known (albeit unexciting) 22-year-old prospect who has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. After redshirting for 2013 and playing as a reserve for 2014, Wadley was a committee player for much of 2015-16, splitting carries with Jordan Canzeri and then LeShun Daniels as the change-of-pace back. Despite his size (5’11” and 195 pounds), Wadley was productive in his limited role, turning 14.0 touches into 94.6 yards and a touchdown per game.
As a senior Wadley has seen his usage increase to a workhorse-like 21.3 touches per game, which he’s turned into an average of 112.5 yards and a touchdown. While Wadley is unlikely to be used much as a runner in the NFL, he’s an accomplished pass catcher with 62 receptions for 644 yards and six scores over the past two years. A Day 3 type of prospect, Wadley might be selected on Day 2 if he tests well at the combine.
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: Wednesday, Dec. 27
Missouri (7-5) travels to Houston, TX, to play Texas (6-6) at NRG Stadium. Although some people might be interested in Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, he seems likely to return to school: He’s a junior, and the NFL Draft Advisory Board reportedly told him he wasn’t likely to be selected before Round 3. His No. 1 receiver, however, is notable.
J’Mon Moore: Wide Receiver, Missouri
Moore is one of just 18 players from the Southeastern Conference with a season of 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving since at least 2000. That list includes Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, and Jarvis Landry. Moore is one of two such players still in school, but of the 16 already to go through the draft process 10 were selected no later than the second round, and only three weren’t selected within the first four rounds. As a producer from the top conference in college football, Moore belongs to a cohort that possesses significant draft capital.
A bit of a late bloomer, Moore redshirted in 2013 and played as a reserve receiver in 2014 before leading a poor Tigers team in 2015 with 29 receptions and 350 yards. In the two seasons since then Moore has emerged as an underappreciated force, securing 62 receptions for 1,012 yards and eight touchdowns last year and 60 receptions for 1,017 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. An SEC prospect with good size (6’3″ and 205 pounds), Moore has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl and will likely be drafted no later than Round 4 as long as he’s not an abominable athlete at the combine. The only other player in school history with two 1,000-yard receiving seasons is former first-rounder Jeremy Maclin.
Photo via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports