2014 College Fantasy Football QBs

By John Laub
John Laub

2014 College Fantasy Football Quarterbacks:

Rankings, Profiles and Projections
By The Gridiron Scholar

Summa Cum Laude

1. Bryce Petty, Baylor
Fantasy footballers yearn for dynamic firepower, and the reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Bryce Petty leads the high-flying Baylor offense. In his first season pulling the trigger, the fourth-year junior tossed 32 aerial strikes, passed for 4,200 yards and added 14 rushing touchdowns. A pinpoint pitcher, Petty completed 62.3 percent of his throws and did not turn the pigskin over, tossing only three interceptions. Innovative coach Art Briles craves another conference title for his pass-happy Bears and Petty makes a run for the Heisman—and guides fantasy managers to league championships—in 2014.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,650 and 40
Rushing yards and TDs: 200 yards and 9
Total Fantasy Points: 500

2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Possibly the most exciting player in the FBS, Marcus Mariota seeks a Heisman and national title before leaving Oregon. Owning a rocket arm, Mariota is a gifted leader who has mastered the Oregon system. Despite a knee injury that limited his running, the dynamic Duck tossed 31 touchdowns and scored nine times on the ground last year. The 6’4” and 212 pound competitor makes defenders whiff and is nearly impossible to tackle one-on-one in the open field. The schedule favors the Ducks this season, and the pulsating passer orchestrates an offensive assault that will electrify the scoreboard. In every fantasy draft, Mariota will unquestionably come off the board within the top two picks.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 3,500 and 32
Rushing yards and TDs: 900 and 10
Total Fantasy Points: 482

3. Jameis Winston, Florida State
The Seminoles’ offense produced a breathtaking 51.6 points per game and steered the club to the national championship behind its Heisman-winning quarterback. On the gridiron, Jameis Winston was nearly flawless, tossing 40 TDs, passing for over 4,000 yards and composing an undefeated season. A franchise-changing talent, Winston possesses archetypal size (6’4” and 227 pounds), arm strength, charisma and leadership behind center. However, off-the-field issues cloud the star’s outlook for the upcoming campaign, and he needs to mature and focus. Despite losing some key offensive performers at Florida State, Winston should replicate last year’s production for fantasy diehards.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,250 and 35
Rushing yards and TDs: 200 and 3
Total Fantasy Points: 418

4. Shane Carden, East Carolina
Most college football fans would not recognize the Pirates’ quarterback sitting next to them on an airplane, but astute fantasy enthusiasts could clearly identify Shane Carden. Possessing exceptional precision and pocket awareness, the C-USA’s MVP completed over 70% of his passes for 4,139 yards and 33 touchdowns last year. In 2014, East Carolina plays in the AAC, and the senior signal caller will garner national attention for his performance. An elite fantasy triggerman, Carden will come at a reduced price compared to the top three QBs.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,500 and 35
Rushing yards and TDs: 150 and 7
Total Fantasy Points: 447

5. Rakeem Cato, Marshall
The 2013 C-USA’s Offensive Player of the Year guided the nation’s seventh ranked offense (42.1 ppg) last year. In 2013, only quarterbacks Derek Carr and Jameis Winston threw more TDs than the 39 by Rakeem Cato for the Thundering Herd. His completion percentage dropped by nearly 10% from 2012 to 2013 but should rebound in 2014, which will increase his numbers across the board. Marshall employs the top offense in C-USA entering the season, and Cato will escort shrewd fantasy managers to their playoffs.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,150 and 38
Rushing yards and TDs: 250 and 4
Total Fantasy Points: 443

6. Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Did Braxton Miller first walk onto the Ohio State campus when Eddie George played in the backfield? Contemplating entering the draft after last season, the Heisman hopeful commences his fourth campaign as the Buckeye’s starting signal caller. The back-to-back Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year winner has accumulated over 3,000 career rushing yards and scored 32 touchdowns: He is also a two-time member of the 2,000/1,000 club (passing and rushing yards in a season). Owner of a big arm but not overly accurate, the swashbuckling improviser is an explosive playmaker, who will provide plenty of fantasy highlights and scoring throughout the season.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 2,250 and 20
Rushing yards and TDs: 1,000 and 12
Total Fantasy Points: 382

Magna Cum Laude

7. Brett Hundley, UCLA
A dual-threat performer who is big, fast and experienced: The junior playmaker has accounted for 78 touchdowns during the past two seasons for the Bruins. Brett Hundley returned to campus for the 2014 campaign after flirting with entering the draft. At 6’3” and 227 pounds, the UCLA star led the team in rushing and completed 67.8% of his passes last year. Awesome offensive tools return with Hundley this fall: four of the club’s top offensive leaders and five of its six principal wideouts. The PAC 12 is so fantasy friendly that the third-year starter might only finish third among passers in the conference.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 3,700 and 27
Rushing yards and TDs: 650 and 10
Total Fantasy Points: 435

8. Connor Halliday, Washington State
Coach Mike Leach begins his third season at the helm of the Washington State program, and his “Air Raid” scheme is ready to create havoc on PAC 12 defenses. Piloting the attack is senior aviator Connor Halliday who set school records for completions (449), attempts (714) and yards (4,597) last year while throwing 34 touchdowns. The 6’4” 197 thrower must limit his “Oh, no” moments and cut down on his league-high 22 interceptions. With plenty of veteran co-pilots in the aerial assault, Halliday will fly sky high for fantasy rebels this season.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,750 and 36
Rushing yards and TDs: -100 and 0
Total Fantasy Points: 406

9. Taysom Hill, BYU

The Cougars field general made more plays with his feet than arm last season. Taysom Hill compiled 4,282 yards of total offense and accounted for 29 scores. In seven of 13 games, the big-armed thrower eclipsed 200 yards passing, and six times, he rushed for over 100 yards, including an astonishing 259 against Texas. The long-shot Heisman hopeful must improve his accuracy and mechanics to receive an invite to New York for the annual ceremony celebrating college football’s elite. Fantasy diehards will be more than happy with a repeat of last season’s numbers.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 3,350 and 25
Rushing yards and TDs: 1,250 and 10
Total Fantasy Points: 469

10. Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Last year’s numbers jump off the stat sheet: A PAC 12 single-season record 4,662 yards passing and a school-best 37 touchdowns. Considering the history of elite QBs in the pass-happy conference, Sean Mannion’s season is even more impressive. During the off-season, the 6’5”, 220-pound senior lost his game-breaking colleague Brandin Cooks and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, who joined the Giants’ staff in New York. Pro scouts will observe Mannion closely this season to see how he responds to adversity. The Oregon State record breaker is an experienced and knowledgeable leader who should still generate fantasy delight in 2014 despite the alterations on offense.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,250 and 30
Rushing yards and TDs: -175 and 0
Total Fantasy Points: 350

11. Davis Webb, Texas Tech
As a true freshman, Davis Webb started the sixth game last year and never looked back. In the Holiday Bowl against Arizona State, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year earned Offensive MVP honors after scorching the Sun Devils for 403 yards passing and four scores. At 6’4”, the sophomore signal caller bulked up—adding 20 pounds—in the offseason and flashed his skills in the Red Raiders’ spring contest with 354 yards passing and four touchdowns. While it may be hyperbole, coach Kliff Kingsbury proclaimed that Webb is a “top-five pick talent” as a future NFL draft prospect. Shrewd fantasy managers hope that Kingsbury’s proclamation comes to fruition on the gridiron.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,100 and 33
Rushing yards and TDs: -100 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 368

12. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
The freshman endured a roller coaster campaign in 2013: Winning, losing and regaining the starting job. In the end, Trevor Knight’s potential finally came to the forefront with a spectacular Sugar Bowl performance against two-time national champion Alabama, setting a bowl-record with 32 completions while earning MVP honors with 348 yards passing. Quarterbacks Josh Heupel, Jason White and Sam Bradford all became Saturday icons in coach Bob Stoops’ system. And Knight is the next man up in Oklahoma for post-season splendor. The Sooner signal caller can rely on a plethora of talent at wideout led by Sterling Shepard, who is one of the best in the Big 12. Without question, Knight ascends to the cream of the crop in college fantasy football this season.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,150 and 32
Rushing yards and TDs: 400 and 6
Total Fantasy Points: 434

13. Nick Marshall, Auburn
After a tremendous amount of SEC QB talent departed for the NFL, Nick Marshall is the top-returning starter in the conference. Last season, the junior college transfer electrified Tigers’ fans and nearly captured a national championship for Auburn. A dynamic athlete, Marshall produced 1,976 yards passing, 1,068 yards rushing and totaled 26 touchdowns. While RB Tre Mason left, coach Gus Malzahn can still surround his two-way star with an incredible quantity of playmakers. Fantasy coaches can reach the post-season with Marshall commanding their club.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 2,500 and 20
Rushing yards and TDs: 1,000 and 10
Total Fantasy Points: 380

14. Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion
In 2014, Old Dominion becomes a member of C-USA after playing as a FCS team only two years ago. If the Monarchs are going to compete at a higher level, QB Taylor Heinicke must come close to matching his performances in the past. As a sophomore in 2012, he won the Walter Payton Award and even set a Division I record with 730 yards passing in a game against New Hampshire. During his tenure at Old Dominion, Heinicke has passed for over 11,000 yards and 102 touchdowns while completing 70% of his throws. A formidable running threat, he has rushed for 1,181 yards and scored 20 times. It is risky taking a player from a team playing at the FBS level for only the second season; however, the return on investment outweighs the downside for fantasy owners.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 4,255 and 27
Rushing yards and TDs: 325 and 6
Total Fantasy Points: 400

15. Keenan Reynolds, Navy
During the past decade, Navy has enjoyed remarkable play at the QB position in its triple-option offense. And junior specialist Keenan Reynolds ranks at the top among all the Midshipmen. In today’s game, the Navy offense baffles opponents, running much more than passing; last year, the Midshipmen pounded the rock 775 times and attempted only 146 passes. Reynolds rushed for 1,346 yards—six games over 100 yards rushing and twice eclipsing 200—and became the first quarterback in NCAA history with over 30 rushing touchdowns, setting a record with 31. As a passer, he completed only 53.1% of his throws for 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns. Without the weekly passing numbers, Reynolds fantasy production will be inconsistent, but on most Saturdays, he’ll earn plenty of bars for fantasy owners.

2014 Projections
Passing yards and TDs: 1,500 and 10
Rushing yards and TDs: 1,250 and 24
Total Fantasy Points: 389

Cum Laude

16. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
17. Cody Fajardo, Nevada
18. Garrett Grayson, Colorado State
19. John O’Korn, Houston (Sleeper)
20. Everett Golson, Notre Dame
21. Marquise Williams, North Carolina (Sleeper)
22. Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
23. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
24. P.J. Walker, Temple
25. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (Sleeper)
26. Casey Cochran, UConn
27. Cole Stoudt, Clemson
28. C.J. Brown, Maryland
29. Maty Mauck, Missouri
30. J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State

With his Masters in history and professional experience as an educator, John Laub is uniquely qualified to research, analyze and discover new insights and trends in college and professional fantasy football. He truly is The Gridiron Scholar.

Twitter: @Gridironschol91 or e-mail: Audibles@aol.com