Many dynasty championships are won with quick thinking and more times than not 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 these players 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 first full week or so of the 2016-2017 bowl games:
DE-Tarell Basham, Ohio: The defender has a quick first step that he combines with fast, power hands that kept blockers away from his body. Basham lined up in both five and seven tech positions, but I thought he did his most damage from the five tech. There were a few times he was over-aggressive and drew offsides penalties; however he backed up that with spins, a nice bull rush that would, at times, be able to split double teams forcing the quarterback to throw early. I see him as a better defensive end than an outside backer at the next level with his limited ability to drop back into coverage. Basham played on both sides of the formation and had a knack for crashing down the line on running plays. He probably projects to be a rotational rusher at the next level.
RB-I’Tavius Mathers, Middle Tenn State: The runner shows good balance and lateral agility making defenders miss. He is quite dangerous in the open field using his above average vision and an explosive burst. Mathers follows his blockers well, while keeping his legs churning and slips away from arm-tackles. In the passing game, the back showed effort as a blocker, but needs to work on technique. He has soft hands, catches the ball well in stride, and either gets into the flats in a hurry or lines up directly in the slot. I thought he looked like a third down back to begin at the next level.
DE-Pat O’Connor, East Michigan: Most defenders are either better against the run or pass, the MAC player does equally well against both. He hustled to the ball (chasing plays 20+ yards down the field or from sideline to sideline) and bounces back up after getting chopped down near the line of scrimmage. O’Connor combines a bull rush with spin moves to rush the quarterback. The defensive end has a quick first step and will throw up his arms when he can’t reach the signal caller to knock down the pigskin. He is less athletically talented than Basham, so i like him slightly less at the next level.
WR-Zach Pascal, Old Dominion: He is a versatile player running the ball on jet sweeps and catching a pass on the next play. The receiver gets sent in motion quite a bit to create the best match-up, but has some difficulty getting off the line with press coverage. Pascal had a few issues tracking the ball in the air, but also managed to get behind the defense for a nice bucket catch. He doesn’t always snare the pigskin clearly with his hands, sometimes he just traps it. His varied efforts on plays not designed for him might be an issue at the next level. It’s a shame as he was explosive and kept his feet churning, but might be more of a kickoff or punt return specialist.
WR-Fred Ross, Mississippi St: The 6’ 2” 205 lb. wide out was not at his best against Miami of Ohio. He did not track the ball well in the air despite getting behind his coverage twice for almost scores. Ross also took a few plays off that were not going to his side of the field. The receiver does have soft hands, runs crisp routes, and shows off quick feet. I saw a end of the NFL roster wide out, not a fantasy starter today. If I were grading, his score would be “undecided” as of today.
WR-Trent Taylor, La Tech: Before you get too excited about his statistical night (12 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns), this young man played in a bowl that had 93 points scored between Navy and Louisiana Tech. His fellow receiver, junior Carlos Henderson, put up ten receptions for 129 yards with two touchdowns himself (I believe Henderson will be the better pro if push came to shove). Taylor has an amazing catch radius, grabs the ball at its highest point, and tracks the ball well in the air. He is very undersized at 5’ 8” 178 lbs., so the diminutive player gets banged around in coverage once a defender gets ahold of him. The wide out has quick feet, starts and stops on a dime, while changing directions with ease. The former Bulldog seems to always make the first guy miss in space and runs precise pass routes while catching the ball in stride. It didn’t matter that he was bracketed in coverage, but then again this was a Navy defense that will send their entire secondary to battleships or aircraft carriers, not to the NFL. Taylor can be a gadget guy at the next level as he is dangerous in the open field and can make an impact as a returner.
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.