Do you watch football Thursday through Monday? If so, a different type of fantasy league might be perfect for you. “Devy”, short for developmental, is a league format that allows fantasy football owners to add college football into the already exciting NFL experience.
Devy leagues can be split into two categories, one called “Campus to Canton” and another being pure Devy. Each format has pros and cons depending on how in depth an owner would like to go.
The first league we will cover is pure Devy which means that fantasy owners draft players while they are still in college. The rules typically state, “Any player who has not declared for the NFL draft and is playing college football is eligible to be drafted. This includes incoming freshmen and players pursuing graduate degrees.” This allows fantasy owners to make a couple of decisions about their team and preferred style. If your Devy league is only using 1-3 Devy spots, you only need to know the top 50 college players and can look at draft eligible lists for the current year to pull from for the draft. If your league is using more spots, an owner can look at recruiting lists and draft players right out of high school. Picking from the top 20 high school recruit lists gives you around a 50% chance of that player making the NFL, but you are looking at a 3-4 year wait time.
A commissioner will have to make a decision during the setup of the league as to how much college will be a part of the league. If a commissioner is only using Devy as an extended rookie draft, owners must be aware of the difference between a good college player and an NFL player. Size, speed, and college offensive scheme can lead to an amazing college career that develops into nothing at the NFL level. Part of the skill of a Devy owner is not just looking at college stats, but putting it into the context of a players production and skill set translating to the NFL.
Kyler Murray will be one of the biggest Devy to NFL storylines due to size and offensive scheme trying to translate into NFL fantasy relevance. Tom Brady is an example in the other direction. Brady had problems keeping his starting job at Michigan and posted a 5.24s 40 time. Drafted 199th and then went on to become the G.O.A.T.
Depending on the size of the league and depth of college knowledge, a commissioner will have to set up the league based off of numbers that work for the owners. A common draft size is a 5 round devy and a 2 round rookie. Due to the dynasty aspect of the league, roster sizes of 30 NFL spots, 5 devy, 4 taxi will keep the waiver wire bare, and trades flying. The start up draft can run early in the summer while devy can run at a later time, or all at once with devy spots being picked during the start up draft. For example, the 8.01 start up draft spot could be picked as Devy 1.01. The league could be run as an auction or salary cap depending on how far a commissioner wants to go. A fantasy league with a standard player pool can have a multitude of formats, and the same can be said about Devy leagues. Most commissioners will need to use a spreadsheet shared with the league to keep track of Devy players. Some sites also allow for the addition of custom players which can be added to each respective rosters taxi squad.
The second format we will cover is commonly called “Campus2Canton”. It adds a layer of competition that forces owners to pay attention to football just about every day of the week, all year long. An owner in a C2C league will draft college players not only to create a pipeline into their NFL team, but their college stats will be used to score points in the College Fantasy Football league. This added twist will force owners to balance the college scoring explosions of players from teams like Hawaii with their likelihood of having NFL success. While a Devy owner might never draft a 5’10” QB, a C2C owner might, depending on the offensive scheme used by the college coach. Typically a C2C league that allows players outside of the P5 conferences will put in scoring rules to help separate the difference in competition between P5, G5 (FBS) and FCS schools. Again, a commissioner and leaguemates will have to decide how big of a roster and how many of the college conferences and levels will be allowed to be drafted.
While NFL fantasy football is a booming industry with podcasts, websites, draft manuals and tons of resources available to somebody who minimally watches football, Devy and C2C is a much smaller community and success is much more likely for the more prepared owner. While auto-drafting might work for standard leagues as thousands of leagues drive ADP data, Devy is a much smaller pool and an owner will need to be more savvy. In Devy leagues, deeper research is pivotal in gaining information advantages that will pay off long term once their prized college studs start producing in the NFL.