December 10, 2023

My First Devy Draft And What I learned

5 min read

My First Devy Draft And What I learned

By Joe Goodwin

Over the last 15 years, my exposure to various fantasy football offerings has grown exponentially.  At first, it was playing standard head-to-head.  Then, additions like playing PPR, SuperFlex and Dynasty began to invade my fantasy football leagues. Eventually,  I began to play DFS and Best Ball.  Last year, I added IDP.  Moving into this year, I felt it was time to take my fantasy football to the next level: Devy (Developmental).

For those that have never played in a Devy League, I will try to explain as simply as I can.

A Devy league will function as any normal dynasty fantasy league.  The one addition is the inclusion of players from the college football ranks.  Before you ask the question, “How do you include fantasy stats for college players?”  The answer is: you don’t.  The college players are drafted as development players; devy for short.  The players drafted are placed on a spreadsheet (or something similar) by the league and kept for each year to promote or retain players.  Any player drafted in the NFL draft and on your devy roster will either need to be promoted to your active roster (or a taxi squad if your league utilizes one) or cut.  If they remain in the college ranks, they can remain on your devy roster.

So, how does a Devy draft work?  I will speak from the startup perspective.  The league will conduct your dynasty startup draft.  Then, your league will need to determine how many rounds each devy draft will last.  The league I am participating in has a 5 round devy draft.  All current college players are eligible to be drafted based on your league’s settings; if your league is IDP, you could also draft defensive players.

So, what did I learn as I prepared for my very first Devy Draft?

A lot…..

Devy Rankings are erratic from one site to another.  So, whatever rankings you use, you must trust those rankings.  As an example, Jahmyr Gibbs was listed as the 2nd overall devy player on one website and listed outside the Top 10 on another.  Brock Bowers was listed as a top 5 player in our DynastyProFootball rankings, 19th on another, and 30th in a 3rd website’s rankings. What do discrepancies like that mean?  Nothing!  Point is, there will be variation to those rankings from one site to another.  Either fully trust one website’s rankings and use them accordingly, or come up with a strategy of your own.  Personally, I collated the data and found averages from 3 different websites.  This helped me better understand how to use those rankings and to look for some consistency between 3 different sites.  A player consistently in each site’s rankings helped me better understand that a player was a consensus top rated player; like Bijan Robinson or TreVeyon Henderson.  A player that was all over the place (like Brock Bowers) means I need to project a player’s potential based on more than just rankings.

Use ALL the information; not just fantasy.  I found when a bunch of players were rated similarly by devy fantasy rankings, I found myself looking up each player on MaxPreps (or similar site) to see what scouts are saying about a player.  And, if I could find comps for the player, even better. 

One such player was Zachary Evans (Ole Miss).  Per my methodology, he was the 8th overall Devy player and the 4th overall running back.  His scouting compares him to Melvin Gordon and calls him a “prototype” for the position.  The other player was Tank Bigsby (Auburn); the next running back listed on my rankings after Evans.  The scouting on Bigsby raves about his size and strength and compares him to Derrius Guice.  Using this type of information can be quite valuable in determining which players you want to add to your devy roster.  How would I decide between the two players?  Well, even though size and strength are important, when a player is described as a “prototype” for his position, that player is probably a better bet to make it to the NFL.

Each position can be harder to predict than others.  As I did my research, I kept coming back to the fact that some positions had more players in the top 50 than others.  Running backs and wide receivers were more represented in any top 50 rankings than quarterbacks or tight ends.  If a tight end or quarterback were listed, those players tended to be “locks” as top NFL draft picks; like CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, Brock Bowers or Michael Mayer.  There will be more rb’s and wr’s listed on top 50 rankings because there are more of them in the college ranks than the other positions.  So, don’t be surprised to see a player like Will Levis (possible Top 10 NFL pick next year) be listed outside a top 50 in Devy rankings.  It doesn’t mean Levis is not going to be a good NFL player, but rather, the quarterback position is the most difficult to predict and the rankings reflect that.  For every top NFL pick like Andrew Luck or Joe Burrow that succeeds in the NFL, there are also the Jamarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf type players that don’t produce.  Also, players like Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, and Dak Prescott that can be drafted in the 3rd round or later in the NFL draft that can be fantasy football league winners.

So, as I conclude my first Devy draft, I now have a newfound interest in college football.  I will certainly be paying attention to my devy roster players more closely.  And I will be paying attention to those players not drafted on my personal spreadsheet and see how they develop this year and if they have the potential to be drafted in next year’s devy draft.

I also hope to begin to start balancing my Devy roster to include a balance of wide receivers and running backs to compliment my select quarterbacks.  I will not spend as much devy draft capital on tight ends unless I can add a “Gronk” level tight end; which, I did draft Brock Bowers this year, so I can await his arrival to the NFL shortly.

In short, take chances with your Devy draft.  If possible, try to acquire as many Devy draft picks as you can to maximize your chances of landing the next Jonathan Taylor or Justin Jefferson.  And if you don’t already do so, start to watch more college games on Saturday and you may just find the next star in your Devy draft!