With the 2020 college football season upon us, see who my under the radar players are each position and why they must be on your fantasy college teams.
In this article, I am going to give you one player at each of the five defensive positions, from linebacker to cornerback, that you should look to add to your IDP devy rosters. These won’t be your well-known players, but they will make a huge impact on your fantasy teams nonetheless. Doesn’t matter if you play in college only redraft leagues or campus to canton leagues, these players can help you win now and in the future. Get these under the radar players before it’s too late. Let’s take a look and see who these difference makers are.
Cornerback, Taiwan Mullen, Indiana, Sophomore
At 5’10”/176 Mullen might be small in size but he has a big-time game. As a true freshman last year, all Mullen did was lead the Big Ten Conference, finished second among freshmen nationally and shared 11th in the country with 13 pass breakups. He played in all 13 games and started eight. Once he got on the field he was just too productive to not start. The Hoosiers used him in a variety of ways and he filled the boxscore each week. On the season he registered 28 tackles, 3½ tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and of course the 13 pass breakups. Now with a year of experience under his belt, he won’t be under the radar much longer.
In fantasy, this is exactly what you are looking for in a player, which is young and talented. Mullen won’t get you a ton of tackles as a corner, but most of the ones he gets will be solos, which score higher. His prowess in pass coverage is where his value comes into play, with all those pass breakup opportunities. He’s a feisty player who will get you those extra scoring stats, such as forced and recovered fumbles. It’s hard to find a player that you can grab super late but can produce like one of the top players at the position. Mullen is one of those players and is a must-own for your college fantasy teams.
Safety, Shaq Bond, Utah State, Senior
Unless you’re a die-hard college football fan, you may not have heard of under the radar safety, Shaq Bond. Even if you have, you may not truly know just how good he is. At 5’10”/190 he’s a small safety that packs a big game. Bond is an impact player with homerun hitting ability when the ball is in his hands. During Bond’s two years in Logan, Utah, with the Aggies, he has been a game-breaking talent. Bond has accumulated four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and 182 total return yards. Those 182 return yards rank as the fourth-most in school history. Bond’s longest return (100 yards vs New Mexico) is tied for the longest in MWC history. Back for his senior year, he should be among the nation’s best safeties.
In college leagues of the fantasy world, Bond is a win-now player. A player that you will be able to plug into lineups and not have any worries about him producing. He’s a senior which means this is his last year he can help you in college leagues. His big impact play-style will score big points for fantasy owners. Bond will provide you with a good source of tackles and game-breaking return for touchdown ability on the big impact plays. His ability to fill the box score, combined with where he’ll be drafted in college leagues, makes him a must-own player. Looking ahead at his professional future Bond projects as a decent option at safety with upside as a returner. His size and skill set is similar to that of Desmond King.
Defensive End, Solomon Byrd, Wyoming, Sophomore
My next under the radar star is also from the MWC, Solomon Byrd of the Wyoming Cowboys. Some of you may know of Byrd if you followed his former teammate, linebacker Logan Wilson, last season. While Wilson gained the attention of everyone, Byrd quietly put together an outstanding season as a redshirt freshman. He would be named to the FWAA All-American Freshman team, producing 6½ sacks, which would lead the team and rank 3rd in the MWC. Byrd would also lead the Cowboys with two forced fumbles and finished 2nd in tackles for a loss (9½). As you can see Byrd is a disruptive force and will only get better. While he is still a young and raw prospect, Byrd will wreak havoc on the MWC in the next few years.
While everyone is chasing the big names and games of the big stars, you can feel great getting such a great talent like Byrd for way less draft capital. He’s going to be a great source of sacks and playing against inferior competition. For a defensive end, he gets a good number of tackles, which many don’t as they strictly rush the passer. A great thing for IDP Devy owners is that they can possibly have three years of control. Byrd’s projection for the NFL is trending upwards, with a potentially high ceiling. There are a lot of things to like about Byrd besides his skill set. He has the frame coveted by the NFL and room to add some bulk. Once he puts it all together, he could be special.
Defensive Tackle, Jay Tufele, USC, Junior
At defensive tackle, my under the radar name to know is, Jay Tufeleof the USC Trojans. The All Pac-12 1st teamer is a strong, athletic monster that moves well for his size. At 6’5” / 315 lbs, the junior defensive lineman does a really good job of applying pressure on the QB, from the interior. Tufele has just 6½ sacks in his career so far but has improved each season, and this upcoming season should be his best yet. In the run game, he plugs up running lanes and makes routine stops behind the line of scrimmage. Tufele has really good upfield burst, can shed blockers, and can wreck the play before it starts. His effort and high motor stand out right away and make him a load to handle.
This is a player that you want if your league requires specific positions or have really deep rosters. As a defensive tackle, Tufele will give a good number of tackles and that pass rush ability to get sacks from the interior. His best value will come in DT premium and sack-heavy scoring leagues. Tufele will play in a star-studded defensive line and this will be his year to shine. The best is yet to come from him and now is the time to get all the shares of him you can. Don’t wait on this under the radar gem, or you’ll regret it later. Looking ahead to pro future, there is a lot like and a definite role for a player with his skill set.
Linebacker, Zane Zandier, Virginia, Senior
If you’re an ACC fan, then Zandier isn’t really an under the radar player, but those who aren’t may not have heard of him. Zandier is a player that will lay the wood to you without hesitation. He has a high motor and a never give up attitude, that stands out when he’s on the field. Zandier led the team in both tackles (108) and tackles for a loss (12½) both of which ranked in the top ten in the ACC, 3rd, and 9th respectively. He also is good in coverage and has good eyes and awareness of what’s happening around him. Zandier had five pass breakups and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown. As you can see he is a very good all-around linebacker.
Just like Shaq Bond above, Zandier is a one-year option in college leagues due to him being a senior. What you’re getting is an experienced linebacker that is a win-now piece for your college fantasy team. He will get you a lot of tackles and can fill the boxscore on any given Saturday. Zandier’s pro projection looks bright and he will be a good piece for NFL fantasy rosters. With another season like last year, his stock will climb quickly, so get him will he is still under the radar.