2024 Rookie Class Stock Up

It’s time to check in on the {at least reasonably assumed} players that could make up the 2024 rookie class- here we look at October players seeing their stock go up. So far this year, the quarterbacks have been lighting it up, making for a very interesting class of young players with huge ceilings like Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. And then there are some older prospects that look like very solid prospects late into their college careers like Michael Penix and Bo Nix. I see the quarterback position being deep this year alongside wide receiver, headlined by the Ohio State duo. But there’s another duo out there that is making a lot of noise early in the season.

Caleb Williams (QB, USC)

Caleb Williams has been the assumed 1.01 in fantasy rookies drafts and the NFL Draft since early in the offseason. So, it’s hard to increase in value when already valued that high, but Caleb Williams has somehow managed to do just that. Through just 4 games, he’s already thrown for 1,214 yards, 15 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 73.8% completion percentage, and a Passer Rating of 152.3. Plus he’s added 71 yards on the ground with an additional 3 touchdowns. He’s graded as a top 9 offensive player per PFF and a top 20 passer in college football. 

Granted, his schedule has been light as he’s faced San Jose State, Nevada, Stanford, and Arizona State. All four teams have less than inspiring defenses. This stretch should continue for a few more weeks until they face Notre Dame on October 14th, their first true test against a tough Irish defense. That is then followed by a stretch that includes a stout Utah defense, Washington who could be a tough test, and Oregon. If he can continue his hot streak through the rest of conference play, he could be regarded as a Round 1 Dynasty Startup pick before he takes an NFL snap.

Washington Huskies Offense

The entire Washington Huskies offense is humming to start the season. Penix has thrown for over 300 yards and 3 TDs in all 4 games this season and over 400 yards in 3 out of 4 games this season. He grades as the third offensive player and 2nd passer in college football per PFF. The starting 3 wide receivers are greatly benefiting as Rome Odunze, the big bodied receiver, leads the team in receiving with 544 yards and 4 touchdowns through only 4 games, never dropping under 100 receiving yards. Jalen McMillan is probably considered the number 2 receiver in this offense who is also a true senior. He’s played a majority of his time in the slot and has gone over 95 receiving yards in his 3 games played this year. Finally, Ja’lynn Polk is arguably the 3rd wide receiver in this offense and has played a decent mix of slot and outside alignments this season. He’s also a true senior and has gone over 100 yards in 3 games and hit 81 yards in the fourth. 

This is an older and very experienced offense that is dicing up every defense they play. All four of these players could be borderline first round rookie picks in 2024. They all have good size, production, and tools to provide a high fantasy ceiling. But all of them will be senior declarations except for Penix who will be finishing his 6th year of college at the age of 24 thanks to a couple of redshirt years.

Shedeur Sanders

I know Shedeur just had his worst game of the season against a very talented Oregon team. It’s no question that Oregon was going to be a different beast than TCU, Nebraska, and Colorado State. But Sanders has done nothing but exceed expectations all season, especially considering the weapons around him and the offensive line protecting him. He’s consistently under pressure, and it became too much against an Oregon defense with future NFL players. Meanwhile, Colorado’s offensive line has been an obvious weak point.

Sanders will have a few games to get right as they face a porous USC defense, an Arizona State team that is on the verge of throwing the towel in, and a struggling Stanford team that just lost to Sacramento State. They should be able to bounce back before finishing the season against some tougher defenses including Oregon State, Washington State, and Utah. While Sanders may not be in the running for a Heisman Trophy, if he chooses to come out this year, he should be in contention to be drafted in the top half of the 1st round of the NFL Draft.

Devin Neal (RB, Kansas)

Devy and Campus2Canton players know who Devin Neal is, but the more casual college fan probably doesn’t. That’s not surprising as he has been a lone bright spot on a poor, albeit up and coming, Kansas Jayhawks team led by Lance Leipold. Leipold has quietly been building an extremely exciting offense in Kansas the past two and a half years, and it’s paying dividends as they’ve started 4-0 this season.

Neal has prototypical listed size at 5’11” and 215 lbs per Kansas’ website, and he was an instant producer with 707 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground as a true freshman. He followed that up with his first 1,000 yard rushing season last year, adding 9 touchdowns on the ground, 183 yards through the air, and another receiving touchdown. He’s off to the races this year with 105+ scrimmage yards in each of his first four games this season, and already 40 receiving yards away from his career high. Neal has the size, open field speed, a good production profile, and will be an early declare this offseason if he decides to go to the NFL this offseason. He’s a big reason why Kansas is on the map this season and will be a household name next offseason.

Ja'Tavion Sanders (TE, Texas)

Ja’Tavion Sanders is making a lot of headway this season to add some depth behind Brock Bowers to this tight end class. He’s built like an athletic tight end, listed at 6’4” and 243 lbs on Texas’ website. And he’s put that athleticism on display this season with two 100 yard receiving games already this season, including in a big spot against Alabama. He’s making a strong case for the TE2 as he strives to take another step forward from his impressive sophomore season that resulted in him eclipsing 600 yards receiving.

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Image Credit: Tim Heitman – USA TODAY Sports

2024 Rookie Class Stock Up October 2024 Rookie Class Stock Up October