Many dynasty championships are won with quick thinking and more times than not with a great deal of research. I get excited each year during bowl season, perhaps it’s the optimism in the air as a few good prospects that go under the radar can make all the difference in the world to building a competitive fantasy squad of tomorrow. Most of the players below I am seeing for the first time, unless I indicate otherwise in their individual write-ups. Here are some of the players I watched during the December 17, 2016 bowl games:
RB Kareem Hunt, Toledo:: This wasn’t my first time watching this back thankfully due to #MACtion on ESPN (I’m a Bowling Green alumni). Hunt was in the mix to declare last season, but continued to impress in 2016 growing as a receiving threat while regressing as a scorer. The talented runner had a good night showing burst alongside smooth, slicing movements with almost 150 total yards adding two touchdowns in a losing effort. At 6’ 1” 225 lbs, the senior Rocket back uses his pad level well combined with power and good vision especially in short yardage situations. He runs with quick feet and balance along with spins that make him hard to bring down on first contact. There are very few runs that he doesn’t keep his feet chopping and falls forward for additional yardage. Unlike most backs his size, Hunt is great in space and is a complete back who can catch and pass block well. There are many talented backs this year and Hunt might be the one with the lowest profile that could become a starter in year one.
RB Elijah McGuire, UL-L: Southern style football can be a treat and McGuire brought some flavorful play in his bowl game finishing with 106 combined rushing and receiving yards on 18 touches. He runs a bit too upright and doesn’t always finish his blocks (rushing and passing) well; however, this young man keeps fighting for extra yardage and never gives up on a play. Once again I saw his Rashard Mendenhall-esque move of turning his back to the defense while trying to hack squat for additional yardage (never give anyone a free shot to smash you in the kidneys!). McGuire has quick feet that allow him to start and stop with ease while letting defenders fly right by him. The back is a dangerous open field runner/punt returner, because he is slippery, uses spins and stiff-arms to create space. I thought his jump cut needed some work, but once he masters that aspect, his lateral agility should be even better. The senior Cajun reminded me a lot of Jerick McKinnon in style, but is a bit skinnier than the Viking back. His soft hands and ability to snare the ball in stride might get him a third down back role to begin his career at the next level.
LB Calvin Munson, SD State: There were a few things to like about his play. Munson came up with a timely interception while seeing the field well and sacked Greg Ward Jr coming from the outside. The backer also played well against the run. I thought Munson had tight hips that might limit him to a two down thumper role at the next level. He left his feet a lot launching himself towards ball carriers and missed often. A lot will depend on which NFL team drafts him and of course more film review.
RB Donnel Pumphrey, SD State: On the way to setting the FBS career rushing yardage record, Pumphrey impressed me much in the same way San Jose State’s Tyler Ervin (Texan’s 2016 fourth pick) did last season. The diminutive runner was not very effective in short yardage situations and usually got pulled near the goal line. Although, he did use a mean stiff-arm and always fell forward. I did not see a lot of power in his juiced up legs and he relies too much on runs to the edge in order to grab real estate. Pumphrey is a slippery runner with great burst, who needs a seam that will allow him to run to daylight. The back has bouncy feet and spin moves that allow him to change directions quickly with his great combination of balance and acceleration. He has loose hips that allow him to wiggle away from a lot of trouble. I did not see him pass block, but the runner has soft hands including a spectacular jumping one-handed catch near the sidelines at the ball’s highest point. San Diego State split him out wide occasionally.
TE Michael Roberts, Toledo: The mountain of a man (6’ 5” 270 lbs.) had a somewhat quiet night with only two targets, but Roberts made the most of those by snaring both. The first catch was for a fifteen yard touchdown where he just swatted away a defender on the way to the end zone. The score was his sixteenth of the season. He looks a lot like former Spartan, now Miami Dolphin Dion Simms with his ability to get used as a blocking H-back. I noticed him taking a few plays off, but in the right offense he could be a red zone monster.
QB/WR Greg Ward Jr, Houston: This athlete had a rough day passing with four interceptions, so it’s for the best that he will probably not be a signal caller at the next level. Ward looked very “Randall Cobb-esque” to me aka a smooth, athletic runner in space. He trusted his feet to create more time in the pocket and found seams to run to daylight. This college quarterback is a former receiver and punt returner, who should make his impact felt more in a non-throwing role at the next level.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to discuss my bowl observations with you throughout the next few weeks, so keep checking the site for more content. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.