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Weekly Watch: Championship Week

Happy New Year! It’s playoff time! Come check out the Weekly Watch as @THEtristancook breaks down the players to know in the CFP!

Hello and welcome back! It’s hard to believe that it’s already Conference Championship Week, but here we are! If you’re new to this article, the goal is to bring you the top upcoming dynasty prospects to watch in nationally televised college football games. It’s never too early to take a look forward. Who will be the sleepers of upcoming rookie drafts? Check back here every week for my ‘Weekly Watch’ series before you head into the weekend. Use this article each week as a place to refer back to as you get ready to watch each game.

How this article works:

I’ll give you the network, time, and teams playing in nationally televised games. Below that, I’ll list the respective schools’ prospects that are, in my opinion, worth mentioning, their position, the year they are eligible to enter the NFL Draft, and their listed heights and weights.

Feel free to reach out on Twitter (@THEtristancook) if you have players you think deserve to be mentioned in next week’s article.

#4 Alabama @ #1 Michigan

Saturday, 1/1 | 5:00 PM ET, ESPN

#4 Alabama

Jase McClellan #2, RB 2024 (5’11”, 212)

On the other side of the ball, the main player of note is Jase McClellan. He has continuously been a reliable option for Alabama but certainly has been far from spectacular or special. I know some people had high hopes for Jase coming into the 2023 season, but at this point, he looks like a Day 3 NFL pick. I believe he does have one more year of eligibility, so we could also see him return for one more year.

Jermaine Burton #3, WR 2024 (6’0”, 194)

The other player to watch is Jermaine Burton. He came over to Alabama prior to last season with a lot of excitement but never quite lived up to the hype. He has been the best receiver this year for the Tide but has by no means been outstanding. I expect Burton to get drafted, but likely on Day 3. His best skill is his speed, so he could see a role in the NFL as a down-field threat.

#1 Michigan

Blake Corum #2, RB 2024 (5’8”, 213)

ANN ARBOR, MI – SEPTEMBER 24: Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) runs with the ball during the second quarter of a Big Ten Conference regular season college football game between the Maryland Terrapins and the Michigan Wolverines on September 24, 2022 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)

The first player to know in this game for the Wolverines is their star running back, Blake Corum. He has been a workhorse for Michigan during his time in Ann Arbor, tallying over 700 touches since he stepped on campus. I don’t think that Corum will “wow” anyone with his testing numbers, but he has the talent to carve out a role on your fantasy team and could be a value pick in the second or potentially even third round of rookie drafts. 

JJ McCarthy #9, QB 2024 (6’3”, 202)

The next player to note is JJ McCarthy. There is still quite a lot of uncertainty surrounding McCarthy and his potential decision to declare for the NFL Draft. I keep waiting for him to step up and lead his team to victory, but that hasn’t happened. If he does declare, he could get as high as the QB3 in the class. But he’ll need to show up big in the playoffs if that has any chance of happening.

Roman Wilson #1, WR 2024 (6’0”, 190)

The final player to note is Roman Wilson. He has been McCarthy’s favorite target this season, leading the team in most receiving categories. Wilson will likely see his role be in the slot at the next level but could be a significant contributor in the right system. I think he’s a mid-round draft prospect. But if he lands in an advantageous situation, I will be investing in some Roman Wilson shares in rookie drafts.

#3 Texas vs #2 Washington 

Monday, 1/1 | 8:45 PM ET, ESPN

#3 Texas

Quinn Ewers #3, QB 2024 (6’2”, 195)

The players to know on the Texas side of the ball remain the same. First off, we have third-year quarterback Quinn Ewers. It’s a bit hard to predict whether or not Ewers will declare for the 2024 NFL Draft. He’s shown flashes of what made him such a highly-touted recruit. But he followed it up with performances that make you scratch your head. Barring a stellar showing en route to a National Championship Game appearance, we’ll likely see Ewers return for 2024. If so, he will likely be a candidate for the top spot in the 2025 NFL Draft.

Xavier Worthy #1, WR 2024 (6’1”, 172)

One of Ewers’ favorite targets this year has been the speedy junior receiver Xavier Worthy. He overcame a couple of injury scares but looks ready to make an impact in this game. Xavier Worthy is a much smaller, quicker, fast-twitch type of receiver than many of the other top guys in this class. I am interested in seeing just how fast he is during the pre-draft process. If he can test well, I think he might surprise some people with how highly he gets drafted.

Adonai Mitchell #5, WR 2024 (6’4”, 196)

Adonai Mitchell is a very different type of receiver than Worthy. At 6’4” tall, Mitchell is an absolute beast of a matchup for opposing defenders. He’s been rather quiet since the game against Kansas State, totaling only 8 catches for 128 yards and one score. Mitchell has garnered some serious draft buzz and will likely declare after this season. As a receiver with not much production prior to the 2023 season, the pre-draft process will be extra important for Mitchell. But, his physical tools could drive Mitchell up draft boards.

Ja’Tavion Sanders #0, TE 2024 (6’4”, 243)

The final player to note for Texas is their tight end, Ja’Tavion Sanders. I have said it many times, but the college tight end position is one of the hardest to project to the NFL level. The lack of productivity for the majority of tight ends leaves a lot of uncertainty when players go to the NFL. Despite having a relatively quiet year, I have Sanders as my TE2, right behind Georgia’s Brock Bowers. I anticipate he will become much more widely known leading up to the NFL Draft.

#2 Washington

Michael Penix Jr. #9, QB 2024 (6’3”, 213) 

SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 17: Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) warms up before a college football game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Washington Huskies on September 17, 2022, at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA. (Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire)

The Washington Huskies have a few players to know, starting with their quarterback, Michael Penix Jr. Penix, who has seemingly been in college for half a decade but really broke out last year in his first season with Washington. He is putting up absurd numbers in this high-flying Washington offense, throwing for over 4,200 yards. If Penix were a few years younger with a cleaner injury history, he’d be in the QB1 discussion. But because of that, I think his ceiling is the QB3 in this class.

Rome Odunze #1, WR 2024 (6’3”, 215) 

The main target for Penix this season has been Rome Odunze. At 6’3”, Odunze presents a prototypical NFL WR size. His name has been mentioned more and more as one of the top receivers in this class. I am not sure how many receivers we’ll see get picked on the first night of the draft, but Odunze will likely hear his name called as one of the early ones. He is a very physically dominant receiver that can contribute right away for any NFL team. 

Ja’Lynn Polk #2, WR 2024 (6’2”, 204) 

The next target for Penix this season has been Ja’Lynn Polk. Polk came into the year as the third receiving option for the Huskies but saw his role elevated due to injuries. He is listed as a sophomore but has been in school for four years. I think there’s a good chance that Polk declares after this year and could be a Day 2 NFL pick. He possesses a well-rounded game and can contribute in many different roles.

Jalen McMillan #11, WR 2024 (6’1”, 192) 

The last player to watch is Jalen McMillan. He missed a considerable amount of time this year due to injuries, so it is hard to predict if he’ll end up declaring. The talent is unquestioned, but it wouldn’t be wild if he wanted to return for another year. If all three Washington receivers declare, I think McMillan will be the last one drafted, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad player. He could be a value pick at the end of drafts.

That’s it for this week’s games. As I previously mentioned, if there is anyone you’d like me to take a look at, or want to share your thoughts on anything dynasty related, hit me up on Twitter ( @THEtristancook ). Also, check out tape on some of these guys in the Dynasty Nerds Film Room. It’s an amazing tool that I plan to take full advantage of. You can use the code “tcook” for 15% off a membership of any kind! 

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