Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Best College Fantasy Quarterbacks for 2016

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Depending on your scoring system, the quarterback position in college fantasy football is drastically different than the NFL game. Not only is the talent pool incredibly deeper, but the point spread is logarithmic. You can read more about the value of the individual positions at the the link below.

Like every league, the devil is in the details. What is your league's scoring system? Specifically, points for yardage and TDs? Those are the big ones. 

The next is, how many teams are in your league and how many QBs start each week. This makes an amazing amount of difference. Why? Because each year there are 10-ish elite QBs who score over 30 points per game. In a 12 man league, everyone gets one of those guys, thus limiting the point spread. However, if you are in a larger league OR in a league that starts multiple QBs, this makes all the difference. That being said, let's take a look at some QBs. 

Big Names: These guys are easy, can't miss guys that everyone knows. But maybe we can help decide which you might take.

Deshaun Watson (Clemson)- He led the next returning QB by 50 points. He returns seven other starters on offense. Auburn and Louisville may put up a fight and Florida State certainly will. He is a must own, first pick of the draft player. 

Luke Falk (Washington State) - It's hard to argue with the comfort of a high volume passer in Mike Leach's offense. He returns the majority of his offensive line and every single playmaker on an offense that was first in the nation. He led the nation in TD passes and had only eight INTs despite throwing for 4,561 yards. He doesn't offer the extra value of running the ball, but his passing volume more than makes up for it. The Cougars don't have a series game until October 1st against Oregon, but it's the next week at Stanford that is the only true test of this offense. 

Greg Ward (Houston) - The Cougars aren't going to sneak up on anyone this year and they play Oklahoma in week one. Though Ward is a viable QB, he will not have the year he had in 2015. The offensive line is being rebuilt and Houston lost Kenneth Farrow and outside weapon Demarcus Ayers. Though Ward was one of two QBs to throw for at least 2,000 yards and rush for another 1,000 yards, he will see a huge dip this year and I caution you not to take Ward early. Losing Farrow and his potent down-hill rushing attack was a bigger loss than most people realize. There is no way that he repeats his 21 rushing TD performance.

Seth Russell (Baylor) - Russell was far and away the best player in fantasy land before he was injured. He was averaging over 46 points per game, a full 8 points better than the next competitor. However, the instability surrounding the program, the loss of Art Briles, a completely new offensive line that returns one starter and the seriousness of his injury make me question burning a first round pick on Russell. Don't forget, Jarrett Stidham didn't play half bad until he was also hurt. It just seems like a recipe for disaster to take Russell early. However, even if he is 3/4 of what he was, it's still worth keeping an eye and making taking a flyer on him if he makes it to the second round. 

Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) - These guys have very similar resumes. Mahomes leads in every category including INTs. But, Texas Tech has been a wild ride in terms of QBs over the last few years. It wasn't unheard of to wake up and find out that a QB was dismissed, transferred, or just gone. Mahomes doesn't have much returning around him, but that hasn't seemed to matter. Mayfield, however, has a ton of weapons coming back and most of his offensive line. OU plays a slightly more difficult schedule with Houston and Ohio State. Of the two, I take Mayfield first due to stability and returning players, but neither will make it out of the first round. 

Chad Kelly (Ole Miss) - Outside of Deshaun Watson, Kelly is the safest pick on the board. He doesn't have the upside that the majority of the players listed above possess, but a repeat of last year (which seems likely) should be more than acceptable. If Kelly cuts down on those INTs (14 last year), he may be the second best QB in fantasy. Like Watson, he offers a lot with this legs, but to expect more than 10 TDs is reaching. Still, He should be the second or third player off the board and is a super safe pick. 

Not So Big Names: After the elite is a long run of good fantasy QBs. Among those are a few that will become elite. Who are they?

Dakota Prukup (Oregon) - The discussion truly starts and ends here. The FCS transfer isn't the arm of Vernon Adams, but Prukup offers something fairly unique: 1,700 rush yards and 24 rushing TDs....last year. Without a single passing yard or TD, that would rank 17th in college football fantasy. Sure it was at Montana State, but we saw Vernon Adams step in and be the man and he did it without having to be on campus more than a month. Oregon has issues on the offensive line, but the combination of perimeter playmakers and Royce Freemen negate that. Expect a deadly zone read attack. Oregon doesn't play a legitimate defense until USC on November 5th, and even that might be a stretch. 

Tommy Armstrong, Jr (Nebraska) - This is a bit of a flyer, but hear me out. Armstrong threw for 3,030 yards and ran for 400 more and seven TDs. Along the way he threw for 22 TDs. His 25 PPG ranked 17th in returning players. That included a second place finish in INTs among the top 100 QBs with 16. If he cuts that in half, he moves into the top 15 fantasy QBs for last year. Also consider that he missed one game and suffered through an absolutely bizarre loss against Illinois when he went 10/31 and an INT. Armstrong also has Jordan Westerkamp, one of the very best WRs and that offers a very good teammate double up option. 

Drew Hare (Northern Illinois) - Hare may be the biggest QB steal of your draft. After throwing for 2,300 yards, 18 TDs, and only 2 INTs while adding 900 yards and another 8 TDs in 2014, the 2015 left a lot to be desired. Two things happened: NIU played Ohio State and Boston College in back to back weeks and Hare missed the final five games of the season. Still, Hare averaged 20.56 points despite that. NIU plays a cupcake schedule this year and his numbers should be back on point. Keep in mind, his 361 points in 2014 would rank inside the top ten. Hare has Kenny Golladay at WR and Joel Bouagnon at RB. This is a very potent set of skill players who have the core of the line returning. 

Quinton Flowers (USF) - After a breakout season that included 34 total TDs and almost 1,000 rushing yards with his 2,300 passing yards, Flowers will be circled by many fantasy enthusiasts. I caution everyone on picking him early. Both UCF and USF have been some of the most confounding teams in terms of expectations. They are projected to win the AAC Easty and finish 9-4. However, they have to play Florida State and Temple which will be two tough calls to make. Additionally, only two starters return on the offensive line. The focus of the offense will be on running back Marlon Mack. I expect Flowers to take a serious step backwards. 

Steals: These guys were totally undervalued last year and will be again in the draft.

Brad Kaaya (Miami) - Hey, I warned you, didn't I? Kaaya wasn't the fantasy dream he was thought to be. But, hey, Al Golden wasn't the answer. Mark Richt is. There aren't many people better with QBs than Richt. What held Kaaya back was simple: he had the yardage (3,238) but not the TDs (16). That kind of yardage was more equivalent to a top ten QB, which most people expected last season. He has four returning starters on the O-line and Stacy Coley who had 47 catches for 700 yards and 4 TDs. Kaaya has tremendous upside. He had five games with over 300 passing yards and that includes missing one game and being taken out in a blowout loss to Clemson. Kaaya has very low downside and extremely high upside. Though he won't be your first QB pick, he may end up being your starter. 

Brett Rypien (Boise State) - Coach Bryan Harsin will be calling offensive plays. This is a very, very good thing for an offense that was already 18th nationally in scoring and 15th in yardage. This team is loaded on offense with eight returning starters including WR Thomas Sperbeck and RB Jeremy McNichols. Averaging over 23 points per game, Rypien tossed over 3,3000 yards and 20 TDs despite missing the first two games and sitting another blowout win against Idaho State the very next week. No one came on harder than Rypien. I am projecting him as a top 10 guy that won't be picked in the first to rounds. 

Potential Flyers

Thomas Sirk (Duke)- Will be bounce back from injury? He adds a rushing dimension not found in many places. But, does he have the weapons to take the pressure off?

Lamar Jackson (Louisville) - Jackson was electrifying at times but needed bowl practice to really appear to be a passing threat. He's in the right system, but the schedule is pretty tough. He has weapons but not much protection. He isn't worthy of an early draft pick but is a solid stash. 

Taylor Lamb (Appalachian State) - It doesn't get much harder for a small team than pulling Tennessee for week one. However, Lamb could be worthy of a first round flyer. His 31 passing TDs was tied for sixth. His yardage volume was low, however, thanks to a very, very good defense that ranked 14th in scoring and 11th in total offense. His 2,300 passing yards was among the lowest amount top 20 QBs. Will it be tough to top 31 TDs? Absolutely. Which is why he isn't on many boards as a top pick. But, he can offset that with yardage easily enough. He has four returning linemen and a very good running back behind him. However, a lack of returning WRs is a major cause of concern.