As we get into Devy draft season, below are my Top 5 Devy QBs you should be looking to acquire. I’ll walk you through my process, comparing and contrasting the players on the analytical metrics of size & production. This process is about increasing the odds of a player’s success in the NFL. Let’s get to it!
The Top 5
1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State, class of 2023
Stroud is a 247 Sports composite 4-star out of Rancho Cucamonga, California. He arrived at Ohio State in 2020 and immediately became the backup behind Heisman finalist QB Justin Fields. The following year, Fields moved on to the NFL as a first-round pick to the Chicago Bears. Then Stroud narrowly beat out newcomer 5-star freshman Kyle McCord for the starting position in 2021. Stroud got off to a little bit of a rough start, with an early loss to Oregon. But as soon as Ohio State got into its Big Ten schedule, Stroud hit his stride and never looked back. Stroud put up 4,435 yards passing, 44 passing TDs, and just six INTs and ended the year as a Heisman finalist.
2022 will be Stroud’s third season in Ryan Day’s offense, and expectations are incredibly high. The Buckeye offenses lost two first-round WRs to the NFL Draft this year. But Brian Hartline (OSU’s WR coach) should have the next batch of high-caliber WRs ready to step up. Including OSU’s best performing WR last year in Jaxon Smith-Njigba (#2 on my Top 5 Devy WR list). In addition, Stroud gets back freshman phenom TreVeon Henderson at RB (#2 on my Top 5 Devy RB list).
2. Bryce Young, Alabama, class of 2023
Bryce Young is a 247 Sports composite 5-star out of Santa Ana, California. If I were to break the top five into tiers, there would be a break after Young. These two are a tier above the rest. Although I have Stroud as #1 and Young as #2, I think the devy consensus would put Young over Stroud. Or, at the very least, this is a 1a/1b type situation. The Dynasty Nerds staff weighed in, and the numbers favored Stroud, but it was close.
Like Stroud, Young got to Alabama and immediately became the backup QB to another first-round draft pick in Mac Jones, where he mostly just played mop-up duty. In 2021 Young took over and went off to the tune of 4,872 yards passing, 47 passing TDs, and only seven INTs. Oh, and he also won the Heisman Trophy. Alabama always has players move up to the NFL, but they are one of the best at the philosophy of next man up because the next man up is usually a five-star from somewhere.
In addition to their tremendous in-house talent stepping up, Alabama also added transfer RB Jahmyr Gibbs (#3 on my Top 5 Devy RB list) and highly coveted Junior transfer from the University of Georgia Jermaine Burton. All signs look up. I’ll explain below why based on size and numbers. I got Stroud over Young. But even I’d have to admit it’s close between #1 and #2.
3. Caleb Williams, Southern California, class of 2024
Williams is a 247 Sports composite 5-star out of Washington, DC. He signed with Lincoln Riley and the Oklahoma Sooners for the 2021 season. As a true freshman, Williams ended up taking the starting job from former devy darling Spencer Rattler in October for the rivalry Texas game and never looked back. Williams finished the year with 1,912 yards passing, 21 passing TDs, and four INTs. After the season, Riley decided to take his talents to Southern California and take over the prestigious USC program. And although there was some uncertainty there for a little bit, Williams decided to follow his coach out to USC.
Since the move by Riley and Williams, USC has become a hot landing spot for transfers. Especially given the NIL money that can be obtained in Southern California. Williams gets to play with fellow WR transfer from Oklahoma, Mario Williams. And recent high profile transfer Jordan Addison (#5 on my Top 5 Devy WRs list). Check out this Dynasty Nerds Devy Spotlight on the USC Trojans. The outlook is very favorable. And just a reminder, Williams is a class of 2024 guy, so you will have to wait two seasons before he’s eligible to move to your NFL squad.
4. Quinn Ewers, Texas, class of 2024
Quinn Ewers is a 247 Sports composite 5-star out of Southlake, Texas. A 5-star ranking is an incredible achievement, but for some reason that seems inadequate to describe how highly touted of a high school prospect Ewers was. He received a perfect (1.0000) 247 composite score and has been the talk of the devy community for a few years now. In a surprise to many last year, Ewers re-classified into the 2021 freshman class, signed on with Ryan Day and the Buckeyes, and got an incredible NIL deal for the year. After learning what he could from Day and the Buckeyes, and given the depth chart situation in Columbus, Ewers decided to transfer to Texas to play for head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns.
It’s not locked in yet, but it is largely thought that Ewers will win the starting job at Texas and show what he can do at the collegiate level. Ranking a QB at #4 without having seen him throw a pass in a college game is risky, but this one is a bit of a projection. If Ewers gets the starting gig, he’ll get to play with top Devy RB Bijan Robinson (#1 on my Top 5 Devy RBs list) and outstanding freshman WR Xavier Worthy (#4 on my Top 5 Devy WRs list). Another reminder, Ewers is a class of 2024 guy, so you will have to wait two seasons before he’s eligible to move to your NFL squad.
5. Anthony Richardson, Florida, class of 2023
Anthony Richardson is a 247 Sports composite 4-star out of Gainesville, Florida. Richardson didn’t play much his first year behind Kyle Trask with Dan Mullen as head coach. During his sophomore year, Emory Jones ended up with the starting gig to start the season. Richardson came in situationally to give the Gators’ offense a jump start and played further into the season. He suffered a knee injury that lingered on through the rest of the season.
In 2021, Richardson finished the year with 529 passing yards, six passing TDs, and five INTs. In addition, he also rushed for 401 rushing yards and three rushing TDs. That’s what has analysts so excited about him; he is explosive as a rusher. We have to see him develop more as a passer, and the sky’s the limit in terms of upside. It wouldn’t surprise me that he’d be competing for the first overall QB drafted next year with his physical attributes.
The Gators hired a new head coach for 2022, Billy Napier, by way of Louisiana at Lafayette. As far as we can tell from the offseason program, it looks like Richardson will start next year. Unlike the top four in this QB list, Richardson has less of a supporting cast at Florida, but the Gators did get an RB transfer, Montrell Johnson, which shows some promise.
Unfortunately, until the NFL combine, we are at the whim of the individual school rosters for their height and weight measurements, which can be accurate but are often not. Here is their data on height & weight.
From a size perspective, at QB, we are looking for a height of 6’2” or taller and a weight of 220 lbs. or heavier. These measurable thresholds are used because players above a specific size and weight tend to perform better in the NFL. That doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions to the thresholds, but we are looking for the highest probability of success buckets. NFL execs are looking for tall QBs to see everything and make all the throws and big enough to take the pounding from the grueling long NFL season.
As you can see, Richardson fits the QB mold at 6’4” and 237lbs. He will have NFL scouts drooling over his size measurables next year. Next is Stroud, who is tall enough and will most likely get to >220 lbs. by the draft next year, so we can pencil him in as fitting the mold. And Quinn Ewers hits on height and is likely to get close to 220 by the 2024 draft, he’s got two years.
Then you have Williams, who is slightly shorter than 6’2”, so he doesn’t hit that threshold, but honestly close, and then he weighs in at 215 lbs., which I think he likely gets to 220 by the 2024 draft. So that seems OK enough, but not perfect. And finally, Young, who is small, right on the fringe of being too small. Young is 6’0” and 194 lbs. In my opinion, Young is probably shorter than 6’0”, maybe 5’11”, or even 5’10”. Also, Young may put on 10 lbs. before the draft next year, but even then, he will still be light. And if he isn’t above 200 lbs., I can see that being a knock against him from an NFL evaluator’s perspective as they try to figure out if he can withstand the pounding a QB takes over the course of an entire NFL season.
Metrics wise, I like to look at QBR, Adjusted Expected Points Added per Play (EPA/play), Adjusted Yards Per Pass Attempt (AY/A), & Adjusted Rush yards Market Share. These metrics are correlated to some degree to fantasy success in the NFL.
Now let’s look at some charts to see how these top 5 QBs compare production-wise.
This chart is the top five devy QBs’ QBR at each player’s years of experience out of high school. Here is a link to what QBR is [LINK]. The upward-sloping dashed line is historically what the average QBR was for QBs with Top 12 fantasy NFL seasons (i.e., NFL success). So when looking at this chart, you want to see players that remain above the line throughout their careers.
Stroud, Young, and Williams look great on this metric. Stroud and Young didn’t play much right out of high school, so they don’t have dots in year one. They both are way above the line in year two, with Stroud a little better than Young. Williams has only played one year and crushed it. If he starts three straight years and remains above the line, that’s precisely what you want to see.
Richardson didn’t throw the ball enough in year one or two to get dots on the chart. For Richardson, everything will come down to how he performs this year. And finally, Ewers hasn’t played yet, so he isn’t going to have a dot on any of these metric charts.
Adjusted Expected Points Added per Play (EPA/play)
And this chart is on Adjusted Expected Points Added per Play (EPA/play). Via playerprofiler.com’s glossary of advanced stats, this is what Expected Points Added (EPA) means – measures the value of individual plays by calculating the expected points scored based on the down, distance, and field position situation at the start of a play and contrasting it with the situation at the end of the play.
Again you want to see the players above the dashed line. And all four QBs that have played (ex Ewers) are above the line. Of note again, Stroud is above Young on this metric as well. Looks good for all these QBs.
Adjusted Yards Per Pass Attempt (AY/A)
And this chart is on Adjusted Yards Per Pass Attempt (AY/A). Via playerprofiler.com’s glossary of advanced stats Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (AY/A) means – Modified yards per attempt incorporate a premium for touchdowns and a discount for interceptions. The more efficient and higher the player’s quality, the higher the AY/A metric is.
Stroud, Young & Williams are all above the line. Looks good for the three of them. Of note again, Stroud is above Young on this metric as well. This is where Richardson can improve this season, and that’s what we are looking for. Develop into a better passer, pass for a ton of yards & TDs with fewer INTs. I think he can get above the line in year three.
Adjusted Rush yards Market Share
And finally, this chart is on Adjusted Rush yards Market Share. Again you want to see the players above the dashed line. As rushing has become more and more important to fantasy QB success in the NFL, this metric measures a QB’s share of team rushing. As you can see, Williams produced above the line in his only year. And Richardson performed above the line in his second season, and I’d expect that to continue into year three. I’m not sure either Stroud or Young will be Konami code QBs, but they both seem to be able to move in the pocket and scrabble adequately; not a death knell to their outlook, but something to think about when comparing them to current NFL QBs.
Putting it all together
So let’s start with the top two, Stroud and Young. Both QBs have produced at levels commensurate with NFL success. However, Stroud produced better than Young on most metrics. Also, Stroud has the size that NFL teams look for, and Young is on the fringe, which makes this an easy call for Stroud to be #1 and Young #2.
Williams hits on everything, and I mean hits, crushing all these metrics in his first year. The only knocks are that he is an inch below my height threshold, meh, and he has two more years before he gets to your NFL dynasty squad. If Williams puts up another great year next year at USC, after Stroud and Young move on to the NFL, Williams will most likely slot into that #1 Devy QB ranking.
Richardson is a highlight reel in the making every time he touches the ball. We just have to see him put it all together this year, combining his explosiveness running the ball with improvements in his QB play. Richardson’s size measurables are very desired in the NFL, so if he puts it all together, you could be looking at a very high pick in next year’s draft.
And finally, Ewers. Size-wise he looks good. But Ewers is an uncomfortable rank because we haven’t seen him play yet in college. So he’s not in any of these charts, and there is not much to analyze. We have to rely on his high school film/production and his work at competitions like the Elite 11. I think there is enough there to benefit from the doubt that he’s going to be pretty good. However, when he plays, if he turns out to not look good on these metrics talked about in this article, then he will quickly move down my board. For more on Ewers, take a look at this video by Kevin Coleman (@daboys_22) of the Devy Royale & the Footballguys.
Just Outside the Top 5 Devy QBs in Alphabetical Order
Drew Allar, Penn State
Devin Brown, Ohio State
Tyler Buchner, Notre Dame
Jaxson Dart, Ole Miss
Tyler Van Dyke, Miami
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
Cade Klubnick, Clemson
Will Levis, Kentucky
Kyle McCord, Ohio State
Cameron Ward, Washington State
These are my top five devy QBs going into the 2022 season: C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Caleb Williams, Quinn Ewers, & Anthony Richardson. I think it would be a good idea to target these QBs in devy leagues because I think they all have a decent probability of success in the NFL. Your top 5 may be different, but I think examining size & production gives you a clearer idea of what to look for in a devy QBs.
If you are interested in learning more about Dynasty/Devy fantasy football, please follow along on Twitter @_jasonstein and let me know what questions you have and how I can help.
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