2021 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Demetric Felton (Fantasy Football)
The 2021 rookie class is loaded with talented skill position players set to make an immediate impact in the NFL. Some of the familiar names have already been outlined in our ongoing Rookie Profile series and more are on the way. In this edition, I want to introduce you to a lesser-known player that could make a name for himself in fantasy football in the near future.
Demetric Felton doesn’t fit the mold of a prototypical running back. He started his high school career as a wide receiver before switching to running back during his junior season. He was ultimately recruited with the “athlete” designation and bounced between the two positions during his collegiate career at UCLA. He’s best thought of as an offensive weapon, the same way Antonio Gibson or Lynn Bowden were headed into the 2020 draft.
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2021 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the brand-new UDK+ for 2021.
College Production Profile
|Games||Rush Att||Rush Yards||Yards/Att||Rush TD||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Yards/Rec||Rec TD|
Felton was redshirted during his first year on campus, then spent his first two active seasons as a wideout with the Bruins before officially converting to running back again as a Junior. He was still predominately used in the passing game in his third collegiate season while teammate Johsua Kelly carried the majority of the rushing workload. After Kelley’s departure to the NFL in 2020, Felton was handed the keys to the backfield and put up solid production. His yardage totals don’t look great in a vacuum, but it should be noted that he only played in six games as the Bruins and the rest of the Pac-12 navigated a COVID-shortened 2020 season. He continued to produce as a receiving weapon as a senior and was also a dangerous kick returner. He finished the 2020 season with the sixth-most all-purpose yards/game in the NCAA.
|Height||Weight||40-yard dash (HS)||Wingspan||Hand Size||247 Sports|
I noted earlier that Felton’s positional flexibility could be compared to Antonio Gibson or Lynn Bowden from 2020 but when it comes to measurables, he profiles much closer to Bowden than Gibson. He was listed at 5’10” and 200 pounds on his official college roster but measured considerably smaller at the Senior Bowl at the end of January. It’s possible that he dropped the weight in an effort to gain speed and profile more as a wide receiver, where he spent his time taking practice reps during Senior Bowl week.
What’s on Tape
Games Viewed: USC (2019), Washington St (2019), Oregon (2020), USC (2020)
1. Felton does his best work on short routes and can rack up serious YAC.
While clearly an adept pass-catcher, Felton didn’t run many routes deep downfield. Instead, most of his receiving damage was done on lower aDOT swings, screens, and angle routes. When he gets the ball in space he doesn’t waste any time getting upfield. He sets up defenders well and has the moves to make them miss, but can also run through arm tackles and carry defenders for a few extra yards.
2. Receiving may be his best skill, but Felton can absolutely tote the rock.
It was clear that the Bruins were comfortable using Felton as their lead back in 2020. He was more than just a pass-catching back that lined up all over the field. While that was definitely a big part of his game, he also carried the ball out of I-formations and in short-yardage situations. He averaged 22 carries/game and was even handed the ball 34(!) times against Oregon. As seen in the clip below, he has no problem finding a hole, navigating upfield, and setting up second-level defenders on his way to the endzone.
3. He’s a threat to score anytime the ball is in his hands.
Felton routinely lined up in the backfield, the slot, and out wide. He has the wiggle and burst to make defenders miss and take it all the way to pay dirt from anywhere on the field. In 2019 he had three plays go for 75+ yards, including a 94-yard touchdown catch that came on a seven-yard angle route out of the backfield. He also housed this 100-yard kick return in 2019.
What’s NOT on Tape
1. Not built to be a bruiser.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise given his size, but Felton isn’t built to push a pile. To his credit, he’s rarely seen being brought down by the first defender he meets and he had some goal-line success as a senior, but he isn’t the guy you want carrying the ball up the middle on fourth and one. To be fair, running the ball up the middle on short-yardage may not be the best play in today’s NFL, but when the play is inevitably called, Felton isn’t likely to be the guy getting the handoff.
2. Top end speed in his final season.
This one puzzled me at first. Felton had so many big plays in 2019 but he appeared to get caught more often downfield as a senior, never logging a play longer than 40 yards in 2020. Looking a little deeper, he was listed at 185 pounds as a junior before bulking up to 200 pounds in his final season. He was pegged to be the primary back in 2020 and this could explain why he put on the extra 15 pounds. It may have helped his durability, but it hindered his big playability. After watching his 2019 tape I expected to see him outrun the defense after breaking free in the clip below. Instead, he tries to cut it back, sensing that he won’t be able to out-run the DB’s angle.
I should reiterate, Felton weighed in at a more svelt 189 pounds at the Senior Bowl. His official pre-draft 40-time could play a big role in his NFL draft stock.
2021 Fantasy Outlook
The landing spot is going to be key for Felton. He could have an immediate fantasy impact if he goes to a team and coaching staff willing to utilize his skill set and get him the ball in space. He isn’t likely to take the league by storm, but he could see success as a primarily slot wideout, similar to what we saw from Lynn Bowden down the home stretch of the 2020 season. He could also potentially stay at running back and be utilized as a pass-catching specialist that gets occasional carries, similar to what we saw from J.D. McKissic last year. Either way, he’ll be most valuable for fantasy in any type of PPR scoring. If he’s selected with a day-two pick it’s safe to think his new team will find a way to use him as a rookie. This could make him worth a very late flier in redraft leagues and somewhere around the third-round in dynasty rookie drafts. If he falls to the back half of the NFL draft, he isn’t likely to have much of an immediate impact but would make an intriguing dynasty stash near the end of rookie drafts.