The Watch List 2021: Week 3 Preview

Updated: September 19th 2020

Welcome to The Watch List for the 2021 NFL Draft season, a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the season as The Watch List will preview the prospects you should be watching each week so you know who will be fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

We now have two weeks of the college football season in the books. And the verdict? It still feels weird. Some teams haven’t played their first games while we’ve seen so much of the Sun Belt that it feels inevitable that they snag the fourth playoff spot. Speaking of the Sun Fun Belt, my gosh did they make the Big 12 look bad in Week 2 with three upsets (Louisiana-Lafayette over Iowa State, Arkansas State over Kansas State and Coastal Carolina over Kansas). Week 3 has already had a number of schedule changes and who knows if there will be more last minute postponements. This week’s schedule feels a little light on intrigue — the SEC doesn’t start until next week and we lost two of the week’s most interesting matchups (BYU at Army, Virginia at Virginia Tech) — so, there’s no better week to concentrate on your future rookie draft picks!

Saturday, September 19

Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston

(Editor’s note: since publication of this article, it was announced by the schools that the Houston vs Baylor game for September 19 was cancelled.)

The Houston Cougars had a strange season in 2019, head coach Dana Holgorsen’s first since arriving from West Virginia. After going 8-5 in 2018, I think we all expected the Cougars, with phenom quarterback D’Eriq King and the offensive-minded Holgorsen, to contend for a New Year’s Six bowl berth. Instead, the team started a disappointing 1-3 which lead to the contentious decision for King to give himself a redshirt. Drama and further redshirts ensued, guaranteeing it would be a lost season for Houston. King is now gone to Miami and Holgorsen is left putting back the pieces of a promising team with junior QB Clayton Tune at the helm. Tune will have the luxury of throwing to senior WR Marquez Stevenson. Stevenson was the prime beneficiary of King’s stellar 2018 season, posting 75-1,019-9 numbers. With the turmoil surrounding the team in 2019, his stats dropped but were still a respectable 52-907-9. Coincidentally, as I was starting to work on this piece ESPN was running a replay of Houston’s 2019 game against Navy so I tuned in to see Stevenson catching passes from Tune. Stevenson looks like a natural hands catcher who attacks the ball away from his body. He also tracked the ball well on a deep over the shoulder completion when the defender was all over him. Stevenson is a dangerous kick returner, and it shows after the catch as well when he can put his agility and speed on display. Speaking of his speed, Bruce Feldman included Stevenson on his annual Freaks List and shared some high praise proclaiming that Stevenson “might be one of the three fastest men in football.” Stevenson ended the game versus Navy, the last contest of the disappointing 2019 season, with 8 receptions, 133 yards and 2 scores; Houston fans will hope it’s a prelude to a great pairing in 2020.

(Note: Houston was originally scheduled to play Memphis on September 18 but that game was postponed. Baylor was in a similar situation after their game against Louisiana Tech was called off. So, Houston and Baylor will be facing off this weekend in a hastily scheduled game that helps both teams keep a non-conference game on the schedule).


Dyami Brown & Dazz Newsome, WRs, North Carolina

(Editor’s note: since publication of this article, it was announced by the schools that the Charlotte vs North Carolina game for September 19 was cancelled.)

Wide Receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome were a big factor in Sam Howell’s emergence in 2019. Howell, now a true sophomore, will surely continue to grow as a quarterback and that is great news for his pass catchers. 2019 was the first time in UNC history that the team had two 1,000 yard receivers and both return to duplicate their success in 2020. The Tar Heels offense returns 10 starters and should be strong, so I expect that Brown and Newsome will have a weekly showcase to improve their respective draft stocks.

Let’s start with Dyami Brown. Brown is a home run hitting downfield threat. He is listed at 6010/185 and has plenty of long speed to get behind defenders. Brown is adept at tracking, adjusting to, and high-pointing the ball; all of which are key traits to maximize his chances in contested situations. I saw a few plays in his highlight reels and against Syracuse that hint at Brown being physical enough to fight off NFL corners out of his breaks and after the catch. Much of Brown’s success come on go routes and posts/corners when he can utilize his speed; he can sell a route break well when he wants to. Brown averaged an ACC best 20.3 yards per reception in 2019; his 1,034 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns were tremendous production for just 51 receptions. After my short study, I would predict that Brown gets a higher draft grade come next spring that Newsome, maybe as high as Day Two.

Dazz Newsome may not have the consistent downfield role that Brown does but that doesn’t mean he can’t make big plays. Against Syracuse, Newsome ran a punt returning clinic. He recorded six returns, averaging 15.5 yards per, but it was the one that didn’t count that was eye-catching. Newsome caught the punt in traffic and in an instant was sluicing through layers of the Orange coverage team. He slowed at the end because he knew it was coming back and still beat the last defender by more than five yards. As a receiver, he further shows off his body control and superb balance. Newsome can win along the sideline but he excels when he’s targeted in space. I expect Newsome to put up solid numbers again in his senior season (72-1,018-10 last season) and find a home in the NFL as a playmaking slot and return man.

Running backs Javonte Williams (three fourth quarter scores) and Michael Crater (138 total yards) held the spotlight in North Carolina’s match against Syracuse, which was much closer than it should have been for three quarters. Howell, Brown, Newsome, et al will be hoping to brighten the boxscore in Week 3 against Charlotte. The 49ers passing defense might actually pose a test for the Tar Heel targets though. Charlotte ranked 14th in the FBS in passing yards allowed per game last year (189.0), and only allowed 204 passing yards last week against App State’s senior quarterback Zac Thomas. I’ll be looking for Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome to dominate and remind us why they are the ACC’s most dynamic duo.


Lyn-J Dixon, RB, Clemson

So far in his short career, Lyn-J Dixon has mostly served as understudy to Travis Etienne so it’s likely that you, like me, have had little exposure to him. I recalled Dixon’s name, likely because of the uniqueness of his first name, but was very surprised to see him as RB8 in Phil Steele’s draft eligible player rankings. So, I knew I had to do a little more research. When I realized that the Tigers were playing The Citadel in Week 3, I figured it would be a perfect time to highlight Dixon. It’s a safe assumption that Clemson will handle the game from the outset and that means that the second team offense, including Dixon, will have a chance to shine. That is, of course, if he’s healthy. Dixon was expected to be ready for Clemson’s Week 2 contest against Wake Forest, but he didn’t see the field. Per Sports Illustrated, Dixon was medically cleared before the Wake game so hopefully the coaching staff was just being cautious to buy Dixon another week.

Dixon has 181 career touches (166 receptions and 15 receptions) and on a per-touch basis he has been super productive with 1,344 total yards and 11 TDs. That averages out to 7.43 yards per touch and a score every 16 touches. Extrapolated over a full work load those rates would be excellent (although, a step below the hyper-efficient output of Etienne). Dixon’s success should come as no surprise to those who had been following him since his high school days in Georgia. He was a 4-star recruit who had offers from other heavyweights like Alabama and Florida.

To get a feel for Dixon’s game, I watched some highlight packages on Youtube. He’s listed at 5110/190 but looks bigger than that to my eye. He is best when he’s running north-south and can build up some momentum. He has a good body lean when he’s running which means he’s rarely going to be knocked backwards and instead will fall forward for extra yardage. When he reaches contact he has the leg drive to break arm tackles, push the pile, or run over a smaller defender. Dixon isn’t going to beat too many DBs with his long speed but that’s not his game. I was pleasantly surprised with my brief film study and am hopeful he gets a larger share of carries in 2020. Dixon is just a junior so it’s too soon to know if he’ll declare early: he may want to return for his senior season when he can be the star running back on a reloading Clemson team. Either way, I’m glad I learned more about Lyn-J Dixon now so I can keep an eye on him all season.


Notes: Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources. I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats:,,,,,,,,
  • Recruiting:,,,
  • Film: 2021 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis,
  • Draft info and mocks:,,,,,
  • NFL rosters, depth charts and contract info:,
  • Draft history:
  • Combine info:,,,
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos:
  • Odds & Gambling Stats:

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a certified park and recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

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