News & Analysis

Devy Spotlight: Previewing the Big 12 for 2018

By Curtis Patrick
Jun 22, 2018

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Nov 11, 2017; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back David Montgomery (32) runs the football against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the third quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Cyclones 49-42. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Dating back to the first NFL draft in 1936, what we now call the Power-5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC) have produced over 77 percent of all first-round picks. These are the conferences and schools that attract the top high school talent every year and ultimately produce the majority of devy talent for dynasty league owners. This summer, I’ll be taking you on a tour of each of the Power-5 conferences (and maybe even some non-Power-5 schools too) and sharing some of my favorite devy prospects at each position. (Check out the ACC and Big Ten, up already.)

Which Big 12 players could make up the next crop of future NFL fantasy stars? Here are 11 names you need to know for devy purposes:

Quarterback

Will Grier, West Virginia

After a promising start to his redshirt season as a Florida Gator, Grier was suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Grier shined brightly in the wide-open Mountaineers offense in 2017. Grier should post one of the more impressive seasons from this group in 2018 from a statistical perspective. His father was a college quarterback as well and Grier has some of the polish you’d expect from a player with good pedigree. He’s been a strong producer since high school (he led the nation in passing touchdowns with 77 as a senior – that’s not a typo) and there’s nothing to suggest that he couldn’t be a productive fantasy player at the next level.

Running back

David Montgomery, Iowa State

Montgomery was a dual-threat quarterback in high school who didn’t receive much attention from Power-5 schools. That has proven to be their mistake, as Montgomery burst on to the scene almost immediately as a freshman. He took over as the primary rusher in 2017 and was one of the more dynamic, well-rounded players in the country. Montgomery has the size and thickness NFL teams like to see and he is also an above-average receiver. He has the best shot of anyone in this class of becoming a three-down player at the next level and is the lone player I am currently ranking as a Tier 1 talent.

Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma

Anderson has suffered multiple season-ending injuries already in his career, including a broken fibula and a fractured C5 vertebrae. These injuries were unfortunate, but since they weren’t of the soft tissue variety they don’t worry me too much. He made the most of his first major opportunity in 2017, posting 18 touchdowns and showing some promise in the receiving game as well. Another injury-free season and continued statistical dominance will further elevate Anderson’s profile.

Trey Sermon, Oklahoma

Sermon didn’t disappoint in his freshman campaign, posting nearly 900 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. He will reprise his complementary role to Anderson in 2018. Sermon already has considerable devy value as a highly touted recruit and merely needs to show some progression in year two to preserve it.

Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

Hill’s size is the only thing keeping his devy profile slightly in check. To be fair, he’s been able to carry a very heavy workload for the Cowboys, but at just 180 pounds this type of touch burden isn’t within the range of possible outcomes for NFL usage. He is a capable receiver and looks like a change of pace back in the NFL. In the right offense, he could become a PPR star, but landing spot will be critical.

Wide receiver

Denzel Mims, Baylor

The latest in what is now a long line of dynamic playmakers from Baylor, Mims eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards and scored eight touchdowns as a sophomore in 2017. A former three-star recruit, Mims looks like a third- or fourth-round talent for the 2019 NFL Draft but there is room to grow here.

Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

In his first season on the field, “Hollywood” Brown was an important part of the’ Sooners air attack. A four-star recruit and junior college transfer, the receiver has pedigree and name value now, but will have to gain weight (he’s a very slight 162 pounds) to become a serious NFL prospect. Lamb had an outstanding freshman season and should be among the top names for the 2020 NFL class in most devy rankers’ lists already.

Collin Johnson, Texas

Johnson is a towering 6-6 redwood. He still has plenty of room to max out his frame with mass and could end up being one of the larger wide receiver prospects we’ve seen in recent memory. Johnson has a flair for making difficult catches and will hopefully see more usage under the new regime in Texas in his junior season.

Gary Jennings and David Sills, West Virginia

Jennings and Sills are the most exciting receiving duo to watch in 2018. Jennings is a dependable chain-mover and is highly involved in the offense, having caught 97 balls last season (fourth-most in the country). Sills hauled in 18 touchdowns (tied for most in the country) and averaged over 16 yards per catch as the lid-lifter in the offense.

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