2015 College Fantasy Football QBs
2015 College Fantasy Football QBs:
Rankings, Profiles and Projections
The Gridiron Scholar
Summa Cum Laude
1. Trevone Boykin, TCU
Expectations are at an all-time high in Fort Worth, Texas as Trevone Boykin returns for a final season with the Horned Frogs. Not a highly regarded high school prospect, Boykin’s first two seasons on campus did not foreshadow prominence. Last year, the talented thrower skyrocketed to stardom, and CFF managers expect an even bigger follow up campaign after being named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. The dual-threat Heisman hopeful almost led TCU (12-1) to the College Football Playoff (CFP) after tossing 33 touchdowns and rushing for another eight. He paced the conference in total offense (363 yards per game) and established eight TCU single-season records. In an 82-27 victory against Texas Tech, he passed for a school-record seven TDs and a career-high 433 yards passing. How good is Boykin? In 2013, he recorded a 100-yard rushing and 100-yard receiving game. Nine starters return on offense, including four linemen, and coach Gary Patterson’s squad is among the elite teams in the country with hopes of earning a CFP invitation. In every CFF draft, Boykin should clearly come off the board within the top two selections.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,750 and 34
Rushing Yards and TDs: 750 and 8
Total Fantasy Points: 409
2. Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky
Last season, few players soared as high as Brandon Doughty: He increased his passing touchdowns by an astonishing 35, finishing the campaign with 49. The Western Kentucky signal caller passed for over 4,800 yards, tossed five or more TDs in five games, completed nearly 68% of his attempts and scored two rushing TDs, becoming one of the most valuable waiver wire assets. Under new coach Jeff Brohm, the Davie, Florida triggerman led the nation in passing touchdowns and yards, setting 14 program or conference marks. Fortunately, the NCAA granted Doughty a sixth-year of eligibility after suffering season-ending injuries in 2011 and 2012. Conference USA is predominately an offensive league, and Western Kentucky retains one of the most explosive aerial attacks with four of its top six receivers returning. Doughty, who was the Conference USA Player of the Year, directs a high-flying, high-scoring attack that passed on over 56% of its offensive plays last year. At 6’2” and 210 pounds, the Hilltopper thrower is determined to catch the eye of NFL scouts, and CFF Diehards will reap the benefits on a weekly basis.
Passing Yards and TDs: 4,650 and 45
Rushing Yards and TDs: -20 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 372
3. Cody Kessler, USC
In Los Angeles, the college football universe has realigned its kinetic balance. Cody Kessler, a fifth-year senior, enters the season as one of the top Heisman and All-American candidates in the country. During the past two campaigns, the Troy triggerman has tossed 59 touchdowns and merely 12 interceptions. Last year, he recorded the most efficient passing season in school history with 39 aerial strikes and only five interceptions. In the PAC-12, Kessler’s eye-popping season went overlooked by many CFF fans: He set USC marks for efficiency (167.1), completions (315), completion percentage (69.7), and tied school records for 300-yard games (7) and TD passes. Coach Steve Sarkisian notes that Kessler is a terrific decision maker with accuracy and owns great anticipatory skills. He also has impressive vision and mobility. Directing Sarkisian’s up-tempo, pro-style offense, the Trojan signal caller easily surpasses last season’s statistics. Most CFF managers will bypass Kessler while astute ones will gobble up the underrated Los Angeles celeb.
Passing Yards and TDs: 4,225 and 44
Rushing Yards and TDs: 100 and 2
Total Fantasy Points: 367
4. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
The Bulldog star explored the possibility of declaring for the NFL Draft at the end of last season, but made a very wise decision to remain on campus. Scouts are not convinced that the fifth-year senior owns an NFL-skill set, and will clearly benefit from more repetitions and game action on Saturdays. The 6’2” and 235-pound dual-threat signal caller has superior athleticism and game-breaking ability. However, he needs to evolve as a pocket passer, improving accuracy and anticipatory skills. Prescott hopes to lead Mississippi State to the summit in the SEC and earn the Bulldogs a ticket to the CFP. Last year, he rushed over 200 times for nearly 1,000 yards with14 touchdowns and passed for almost 3,500 yards with 27 aerial strikes; Dak also set 12 single-season school records and finished eighth in the Heisman balloting. Despite the lofty forecast in Starkville, there are some concerns for CFF managers to ponder. Prescott loses three-fifths of the starting offensive line and only one starting receiver returns among the playmakers. Moreover, Mississippi State plays in possibly the most competitive division—Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Arkansas—in the country. Prescott still warrants a first-round selection, but cunning owners will temper expectations.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,000 and 25
Rushing Yards and TDs: 910 and 12
Total Fantasy Points: 383
5. Luke Falk, Washington State
Coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid scheme is one of the preeminent college passing attacks in the nation. Since taking over the program three seasons ago, Leach’s unit has averaged 4,827 yards passing and 34 touchdowns: An annual (and weekly) buffet for CFF owners. Without a scholarship, Falk walked onto the roster and started his college career fourth on the depth chart in Pullman, Washington. After star quarterback Connor Halliday suffered a knee injury last season, the redshirt freshman took the reigns of the offense and produced prodigious statistics. In the final three games of the season, he passed for 1,427 and 10 touchdowns. Unfortunately, secondaries intercepted Falk six times in the final two contests. At 6’4” and 204 pounds, Falk looks like the perfect triggerman for Leach’s passing game, and his calm demeanor, unshakable confidence and leadership skills illuminate stardom. Falk is clearly blossoming heading into the season after a tremendous performance in the spring game and well worth an early-round investment in fantasy drafts.
Passing Yards and TDs: 5,150 and 40
Rushing Yards and TDs: -50 and 2
Total Fantasy Points: 378
6. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
During a three-game stretch last season (Florida State, North Carolina and North Carolina State), the first-year freshman displayed his tremendous dual-threat abilities: He totaled 968 yards passing with eight scoring strikes and rushed for 120 yards with three touchdowns. Unfortunately, Watson missed five contests after suffering an ACL injury in his left leg. When the dust finally settled, the rising star concluded the campaign with 1,466 yards passing and 14 TDs while adding five rushing touchdowns. Bequeathed with a natural and smooth release, he possesses impressive arm strength and navigates through progressions like an upperclassman. Watson’s mobility and escapability put added pressure on defenses and propels the sophomore among the elite CFF signal callers. With speedsters Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Gerome Hopper, Watson has an elite trio of game breakers to deploy against secondaries. Early offseason reports indicate that the sophomore is healing and should be ready for training camp. CFF fanatics can safely select Watson and relish watching a superlative two-way competitor.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,200 and 28
Rushing Yards and TDs: 450 and 11
Total Fantasy Points: 351
7. J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones, Ohio State
CFF Diehards are keeping a close eye on the quarterback competition at Ohio State this summer. Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes on a magic carpet ride to the National Championship in 2014. A tremendous athlete, Jones has a big arm and tremendous size; however, the subtleties, accuracy and experience required for success are deficient. On the other side of the ledger, J.T. Barrett finished fifth in the Heisman voting and posted a 34:10 touchdown-to-interception ratio as a redshirt freshman last year. Barrett is a natural and mature leader who illustrated his long-term potential leading Ohio State to a 10-1 record before being injured last season. The sophomore will be the Buckeyes starter in 2016 and 2017 if he doesn’t jettison to the NFL early. In the spring game, Jones completed only 19 of 42 passes for 302 yards, including two touchdowns. But he also tossed two interceptions and missed some wide-open receivers on intermediate and short routes. Coach Urban Meyer did not commit to either player after the spring practices, and CFF managers are on the edge of their seats waiting for a resolution. Best educated guess indicates that Barrett earns the starting position before the kickoff in Baltimore, Maryland against Navy.
2015 Projections (Team Projections)
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,300 and 35
Rushing Yards and TDs: 950 and 10
Total Fantasy Points: 427
8. Jared Goff, California
At 6’4” and 210 pounds, Jared Goff enters the 2015 campaign as one of the elite NFL prospects at the quarterback position. In 2013, he started behind center as a true freshman and set multiple school records. As a sophomore, the California field general broke 15 school marks last year, including single-season passing yards (3,973), passing touchdowns (35) and total offense (3,929). He also recorded an impressive 35:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and concluded the year as the fifth-highest rated QB (147.6) in the nation. Goff owns a big arm, fits the pigskin into tight windows, maneuvers well in the pocket and possesses good downfield vision. Heading into the 2015 season, the Heisman dark horse aims to guide the Golden Bears to the zenith of the PAC-12 after finishing last season at 5-7. CFF enthusiasts do not care about the conference title; they just crave statistical improvements across the board. Fantasy draftniks savvy enough to grab Goff will be rewarded throughout the season.
Passing Yards and TDs: 4,125 and 41
Rushing Yards and TDs: -25 and 1
Total Fantasy Points: 335
Magna Cum Laude
9. Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State
Most CFF fanatics bypass the Sun Belt Conference when seeking starters; however, prudent ones know that fantasy stars are available. Last season, new Coach Blake Anderson implemented an up-tempo, quick-scoring system, and the Red Wolves responded under junior dual-threat quarterback Fredi Knighten. He led the team in carries with 211 and scored 11 times on the ground. Knighten also passed for over 3,000 yards and tossed 24 aerial strikes. The Red Wolves open the season with rough back-to-back games against college powerhouses USC and Missouri. CFF owners cannot expect wonderful offensive performances for Knighten. However, when the Sun Belt schedule commences, the senior should produce solid numbers again. Knighten is not a polished passer: He held onto the ball too long, got sacked too often and fumbled nine times, losing seven. Owners selecting the Red Wolves scrambler must be patient early and wait to reap the rewards later in the season.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,350 and 26
Rushing Yards and TDs: 850 and 12
Total Fantasy Points: 395
10. Seth Russell, Baylor
During the past four seasons, coach Art Briles starting quarterbacks—Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty—have averaged 4,164 yards passing and 33 touchdowns. Escalating expectations in Waco, Texas have ascended Seth Russell to elite status even before the season kickoffs. In limited action, the fourth-year junior has attempted 128 passes while completing 74 for 1,231 yards and 11 touchdowns against only four interceptions. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Russell possesses a live arm and moves quickly with speed: In the 40-yard dash, he has been clocked at under 4.50. His athletic ability and football IQ should bring the zone read back into the Baylor playbook this season. His speedy teammates at wide receiver, Corey Coleman and KD Cannon, provide home run punch on the outside, and Russell will surely get the pigskin into their hands. During the Friday night scrimmage in March, the Baylor Bomber tossed three touchdowns over 50 yards and finished with 345 yards on 18 completions with four TDs. Without question, Russell can lead CFF managers to their respective championship contests this year.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,900 and 31
Rushing Yards and TDs: 350 and 6
Total Fantasy Points: 348
11. Anu Solomon, Arizona
Considering the tremendous throwers in the PAC-12 last season, some CFF enthusiasts overlooked Anu Solomon’s production at Arizona. The redshirt sophomore became the first freshman to open the season behind center for the Wildcats and started all 14 games. When the curtain closed on the campaign, he completed 58% of his passes for 3,793 yards and tossed 28 touchdowns. Not a dynamic runner, Solomon is a better passer than coach Rich Rodriguez’s former prodigies at West Virginia and Michigan: Pat White and Denard Robinson. With grit and intelligence, he can handle the high demands of his coach and welcomes the challenge of leading Arizona to the apex of the conference. When under duress, Solomon escapes pressure well, and his greatest asset is throwing on the run. He also has first-rate vision and ample dexterity. During the annual spring game, the Hawaiian hurler impressed observers, completing 19 of 25 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. In Rodriguez’s explosive spread attack, Solomon is the next prodigious CFF quarterback.
Passing Yards and TDs: 4,100 and 31
Rushing Yards and TDs: 350 and 3
Total Fantasy Points: 341
12. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn
Coach Gus Malzahn does not receive the credit he deserves for developing quarterbacks: Since he arrived at Auburn, Cam Newton and Nick Marshall both became CFF celebrities. Now, Jeremy Johnson takes over the reigns of the Tigers’ offense. At 6’5” and 230 pounds, Johnson is a natural leader with a powerful arm, and is one of the better athletes in college football. While on the bench the past two seasons, Johnson observed Marshall closely and was humbled by the experience. There have been glimpses of his greatness so far; in some cameo appearances and two starts, he has completed over 70% of his passes for 858 yards and posted a 9:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio on only 78 passes. A hard-working competitor, Johnson displayed his upside potential during the spring dress rehearsal, connecting on 14 of 22 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns, including four completions over 25 yards. The hyperbole train is speeding down the tracks as the Auburn faithful (and fantasy managers) can barely contain their enthusiasm. A better pitcher than runner, Johnson tweaks the dynamics of Malzahn’s offense and becomes a CFF stud.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,350 and 28
Rushing Yards and TDs: 440 and 5
Total Fantasy Points: 376
13. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee
After being named the TaxSlayer Bowl MVP, Joshua Dobbs begins the upcoming crusade among the top dual-threat playmakers. Last season, the junior game breaker led the Volunteers to a 4-1 record in his five starts, and Tennessee scored over 36 points per game and produced over 400 yards per contest. Dobbs recorded 17 touchdowns—nine passing and eight rushing—while amassing 1,793 total yards of real estate. Not only is he a prodigious athlete, but a star in the classroom as well. He is an aerospace engineering major and will be spending his summer as an intern with Pratt & Whitney in West Palm Beach, Florida. During the last four seasons, Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel rose from near obscurity to capture the Heisman, and Dobbs might be the leading dark horse candidate in the nation. There are no reservations that the Volunteer quarterback warrants a starting position on CFF rosters in 2015.
Passing Yards and TDs: 3,000 and 21
Rushing Yards and TDs: 850 and 10
Total Fantasy Points: 349
14. Taysom Hill, BYU
In the fantasy realm, Taysom Hill has stared in a one-man stage production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. During his tenure at Provo, twice Hill portrayed Mr. Hyde on campus. Two acts were halted by a season-ending injury: Knee damage in 2012 and a left-leg fracture in 2014. In between, the BYU scrambler impersonated Dr. Jekyll and fashioned one of the best seasons among dual-threat signal callers in the last decade. Hill rushed for 1,344 yards, passed for 2,938 yards and accounted for 29 touchdowns in 2013. How astronomical can his individual performances reach? Hill has produced career highs with 259 yards rushing vs. Texas and 417 yards passing vs. Houston. Offseason reports indicate that the senior is recovering well and should be back on the gridiron during the summer for the Cougars. Mike Huguenin, NFL.com writer, included the finance scholar among his 15 Heisman contenders to watch, and CFF owners are thrilled about a healthy return. The long-shot Heisman candidate could propel fantasy owners into their playoffs if Dr. Jekyll shines in the fourth act of the show in 2015.
Passing Yards and TDs: 2,850 and 18
Rushing Yards and TDs: 1,200 and 10
Total Fantasy Points: 384
15. Kennan Reynolds, Navy
In its triple-option offense, Navy has enjoyed remarkable play at the QB position during the past decade: Coach Ken Niumatalolo’s offense baffles opponents, running much more than passing. And Keenan Reynolds is one of the most decorated Midshipmen in history. Two years ago, he became the first signal caller to score over 30 times. Reynolds’ 64 career-rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback and are fourth on the all-time list. The senior trails Montee Ball by 13 touchdowns in order to set a new NCAA career mark, which seems like a forgone conclusion. On 721 carries, the Navy captain has averaged 4.5 yards and eclipsed 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He also owns a 21-11 record and is 5-1 in Service Academy games. Without the weekly passing numbers, Reynolds fantasy points will be inconsistent; however, he’ll earn his bars on most Saturdays.
Passing Yards and TDs: 950 and 7
Rushing Yards and TDs: 1,250 and 25
Total Fantasy Points: 336
16. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
17. Marquise Williams, North Carolina
18. Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
19. Mike Bercovici, Arizona State
20. Dane Evans, Tulsa (Sleeper)
21. Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
22. Paxton Lynch, Memphis (Sleeper)
23. Blake Frohnapfel, UMass
24. Jacoby Brissett, NC State
25. Vernon Adams, Oregon
26. Everett Golson, Florida State
27. Connor Cook, Michigan State
28. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
29. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
30. Malik Zaire, Notre Dame
31. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (Sleeper)
32. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
33. Greg Ward, Jr., Houston
34. Skylar Howard, WVU
35. Brad Kaaya, Miami
36. Zach Terrell, Western Michigan (Sleeper)
37. Matt Linehan, Idaho
38. Jaquez Johnson, FAU
39. Justin Holman, UCF
40. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
41. Wes Lunt, Illinois
42. Cooper Rush, Central Michigan
43. Patrick Towles, Kentucky
44. B.J. Walker, Temple
45. Sefo Liufau, Colorado
46. Drew Hare, Northern Illinois
47. Matt Davis, SMU
48. Jake Rudock, Michigan
49. Joe Gray, San Jose State
50. Sam Richardson, Iowa State
Passing Yards = 1 point for every 25 yards
Rushing Yards = 1 point for every 10 yards
PTDs = 4 points
RTDs = 6 points
Projections are based on the assumption that the prospect stays healthy all season.
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