With every ending, there is always a new beginning. We’ve seen players declare for the NFL time after time and have their replacement show similar production the following season in their absence. Allen Lazard left Iowa State claiming two of the top ten greatest single seasons from a Cyclone receiver. The big-bodied Hakeem Butler stepped up this season and surpassed the Iowa State single-season record for receiving yards.
Who Steps Up After NFL Draft Declarations?
As of now, 59 offensive skill position players have declared for the NFL which is a huge decision for each one of them. But, which players in their shadows will step up in 2019 and put their predecessors in the past?
Justin Fields, Ohio State
Replacing: Dwayne Haskins
A few weeks and two transfers ago, I would’ve had Tate Martell as the featured player for this portion but here we are. Martell just visited Neal Brown and the West Virginia Mountaineers and the generational talent Justin Fields transferred over to Ohio State from Georgia. The transfer came as no surprise after Jake Fromm won the job at Georgia and rumors of Haskins going off the board early in the draft. Fields will likely play this year considering the video evidence of racial slurs being used at Georgia. Ohio State quarterbacks are money in college fantasy football and now they have one of the most talented quarterback recruits in decades on their roster. Expect Fields to light it up this season with both Haskins and Martell out of the picture.
Quentin Harris, Duke
Replacing: Daniel Jones
Surprisingly, Daniel Jones finished up as the fifth-ranked quarterback all-time in Duke passing yards and third all-time in passing touchdowns. As a Fantasy option, Jones was hit or miss depending on the matchup and couldn’t perform for all of 2018 due to a broken collarbone. While Jones was gone, Harris threw for 376 yards and six touchdowns with 117 yards and a score on the ground against Baylor and UNC-Central. Even though Duke has Alabama and Notre Dame on the schedule next season, Harris going up against Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Wake Forest will see no shortage of fantasy points as the Senior dual-threat makes a name for himself as he heads out the door.
Others to Look Forward To…
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma; Malik Willis, Auburn
BJ Emmons, FAU
Replacing: Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte Jr.
Emmons transferred from Alabama over to Florida Atlantic last offseason and made the decision to sit out last season to finish up his classes at Hutchinson Community College. Last season, FAU had Devin Singletary and Kerrith White Jr. combined for 2,214 yards and 30 scores. Emmons left Alabama and is expected to play a prominent role in the Owls offense that loses almost all of its production from a season ago. Expect the early-enrollee to “take the ball and run with it” a lot this season.
Ricky Slade, Penn State
Replacing: Miles Sanders
I was very high on Ricky Slade going into last season and he couldn’t earn the lion’s share of the carries due to Miles Sanders. Sanders declared for the NFL last week and now Slade looks poised to take over as the guy at Penn State. Slade drew Saquan Barkley comparisons when he first signed with Penn State and managed to out-carry senior backup Mark Allen in his freshman season. In his senior season, Slade went for 1,500+ yards with 20 total touchdowns while averaging over 9.0 yards per carry. Penn State’s offensive line wasn’t the best last season and Head Coach James Franklin brought in three guys to address this immediately in 2019. If the guys fall into place on the line, Slade is in for a breakout season in 2019.
Najee Harris, Alabama
Replacing: Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs
I do understand that Najee Harris has popped up on just about every breakout list and what not since arriving on campus two seasons ago, but it now seems time for him to step up to the plate. Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs have finished out their careers at Alabama and are off to the NFL draft leaving Najee Harris and a stable of young guys to take the reigns in the Crimson Tide backfield. Saban usually goes with the more experienced guys in the backfield and Harris will undoubtedly get the first try at the starting job considering all the potential he has as a bruising runner. Last season it was tough to take a chance on Harris, this season it should be a lot easier.
Others to Look Forward To…
Lorenzo Lingard, Miami FL; Jashaun Corbin OR Cordarrian Richardson, Texas A&M; Asim Rose, Kentucky
Nolan Groulx, Wake Forest
Replacing: Greg Dortch
Greg Dortch came on in 2017 strong in the first eight weeks of the season but missed the backstretch of games due to a punctured intestine. Dortch couldn’t crack the top ten all-time in Wake receiving yards but he did finish top ten in receptions and receiving touchdowns before declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft. With Dortch gone and Alex Bachman graduating, early enrollee Nolan Groulx will garner the first shot at the job.
Groulx is roughly the same size as Dortch and was told by the coaching staff that he would get the first shot in the slot if Dortch declared… here we are. Groulx selected Wake Forest over Wisconsin and South Carolina and has all Spring and Fall to secure the slot role. In high school, Groulx lined up out wide, in the slot, and often out of the backfield as a receiving back while also serving as a punt returner, making his skill set the most similar to the departing Dortch. For those of you in need of a player in a dynasty league, Groulx could be a low-profile player with monumental upside for at least three seasons.
Warren Jackson, Colorado State
Replacing: Preston Williams
So, replacing the fantasy production of Tennessee-transfer Preston Williams won’t be easy for Colorado State. Williams’ 2018 season finished as the second most productive in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns which is impressive with the stats that Michael Gallup and Rashard Higgins put up in their time as a Ram. The player poised to pick up this production next season is a name that was thrown around in the Fall, Warren Jackson. Jackson was repeatedly referred to as a player that could be that next guy but given the play we saw out of Williams and Olabisi Johnson it’s not hard to see why he was delayed another season. Both Johnson and Williams are out next season and Jackson is sure to be the guy.
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Replacing: Marquise Brown
Not trying to state the obvious, but it has to be addressed. “Hollywood” Brown has declared for the NFL draft and CeeDee Lamb is next up in line to replace that production. Lamb has already made a name for himself with 1,000+ yards behind Brown and now he takes the role of the top dog. The sophomore has shown time and time again his impressive catch radius and right now he has the top quarterback of the 2019 class slinging the ball to him. Expect Lamb to top 1,000 yards once again in 2019 no matter who is throwing him the ball.
Others to Look Forward To…
Elijah Moore, Miles Battle, and Braylon Sanders, Ole Miss; TJ Vasher, Texas Tech; Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State; Demetris Robertson, Georgia
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