Part One of our story proves that you should temper your emotions when it comes to freshmen, at least from a fantasy standpoint. Try not to get too caught up in the hype that a hotshot recruit brings to campus before he has even played a down.
Some big-name players dive right in and contribute (Alabama WR Julio Jones) while others disappoint in their rookie campaign (Colorado RB Darrell Scott).
By our count, sixteen freshmen made a significant fantasy impact in 2008. Half of those players were big-name recruits, while the others where not on the preseason fantasy radar. Figuring out who will make that splash in year one isn’t easy, but we’ll take a stab at it. So let’s get to it, starting with the quarterbacks.
QB Summary: As we discussed in Part One, there were only three true freshman quarterbacks who made a fantasy impact in 2008. And of those three, only one was an every-week starter in most leagues (Robert Griffin).
It could be debated that the other two, Bo Levi Mitchell and Terrelle Pryor, were mostly situational starters. Are there a couple quarterbacks who could make a fantasy impact this fall? The prospects don’t look very promising at the moment. Of course, much can change between February and September.
Best Chance to Make 2009 Fantasy Impact
Tate Forcier (Michigan)
Rivals rank: #5 Dual-threat QB
Also had offers from: Florida, Penn State, Oregon
Why he’s on the radar: When RichRod ditched Morgantown for Ann Arbor, he put all of his quarterback recruiting eggs in one basket. The Basket of Terrelle Pryor. When Pryor ended up at arch-rival Ohio State, RichRod was left trying to fit square pegs into a round hole.
The result was a disastrous season where nobody proved to be the long-term solution at the quarterback position. Rodriguez hit the recruiting trail hard to remedy the situation.
He had decommits from Kevin Newsome (Penn State) and Shavodrick Beaver (Tulsa), but landed Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson.
Forcier is an early enrollee, has a family quarterback pedigree, and is expected to be the front-runner to win the starting job. If he wins the job, he will have an opportunity to put up nice stats on the ground and through the air.
What to be concerned about: Yeah, Forcier is a trendy pick here. ESPN, Rivals, and the BigTen Network are all on board the Forcier Express. With all the hubbub about Forcier being a “perfect fit” for this offense, wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if Denard Robinson won the job?
Keep an Eye on These Guys in August
Terrance Cain (Utah)
Rivals rank: N/A, 4-star Dual-threat QB (JUCO)
Also had offers from: N/A
Why he’s on the radar: Brian Johnson graduates and there is no clear cut favorite to fill his shoes. Cain has been called the next Brian Johnson by some. The JUCO All-American ran a similar type of offense and should adapt well to the Utes’ system. He is enrolled early.
What to be concerned about: There are three others vying for the job: Corbin Louks, DeVonte Christopher and Jordan Wynn.
Matt Barkley (USC)
Rivals rank: #1 Pro-style QB
Also had offers from: Stanford, UCLA, Cal, Florida State
Why he’s on the radar: The top rated quarterback in the country. With Mark Sanchez leaving early for the NFL, he will get a long, hard look this spring from the USC coaching staff. If he wins the job, he obviously becomes a fantasy factor.
What to be concerned about: Must leapfrog Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain on depth chart.
Russell Shepard (LSU)
Rivals rank: #1 Dual-threat QB
Also had offers from: USC, Texas, Florida
Why he’s on the radar: Considered the top dual threat quarterback prospect in the nation. He’s got supreme talent and the LSU quarterback situation is a big question mark.
Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson return. Shepard and Chris Garrett are the newcomers thrown into the mix. Who will come out on top? Maybe we’ll get some answers this spring. Bottom line: Shepard will get his shot at some point. Will it be in 2009?
What to be concerned about: Competition from Lee, Jefferson and Garrett. LSU system is hit and miss for fantasy quarterbacks.
Tom Savage (Rutgers)
Rivals rank: #8 Pro-style QB
Also had offers from: Georgia, Florida State, Penn State, Michigan
Why he’s on the radar: Strong-armed quarterback who is regarded as the most heralded recruit in the history of the program. Since his verbal commitment, Savage went on the recruiting trail himself, trying to woo top recruits to join him in Jersey.
All of that sounds great, but will he make a fantasy impact in year one? With Mike Teel graduating, he has a shot at the starting job. Coach Schiano thinks the world of Savage, and he might decide to take his lumps with the freshman this fall.
What to be concerned about: Has to beat out a few upper classmen. A quarterback’s best friends are his receivers. Unfortunately for Savage or whoever lines up under center for the Scarlet Knights, they won’t have the luxury of standout wide receivers Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood. Both are off to the NFL.
Josh Nunes (Stanford)
Rivals rank: #13 Pro-style QB
Also had offers from: Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Harvard!
Why he’s on the radar: Nunes is one of the stars of Coach Harbaugh’s stellar recruiting class. We all know Harbaugh is a former quarterback himself. Will he become enamored enough with Nunes to throw him into the fire this fall?
What to be concerned about: Stanford hasn’t produced many quality fantasy quarterbacks of late. Returning starter Tavita Pritchard stands in his way.
Aaron Murray (UGA)
Rivals rank: #4 Pro-style QB
Also had offers from: Florida, Notre Dame, Tennessee
Why he’s on the radar: With Matt Stafford off to the NFL, the QB battle is on in Athens. Enter newcomers Murray and Zach Mettenberger. Both enrolled early and will have a chance to prove themselves in spring ball.
What to be concerned about: Even the uber-talented Stafford wasn’t a fantasy star.
Denard Robinson (Michigan)
Rivals rank: #14 Athlete
Also had offers from: Ohio State, Georgia, Florida
Why he’s on the radar: A raw talent who could be a great fit for RichRod’s offensive system.
What to be concerned about: Will have to beat out the “more polished” Tate Forcier for the job.
Shavodrick Beaver (Tulsa)
Rivals rank: #8 Dual-threat QB
Also had offers from: Michigan, Texas Tech, Arizona
Why he’s on the radar: Any time a major recruit signs on with a mid-level school, you take notice. Especially when the player is a quarterback signing with an offensive juggernaut.
Beaver is a long shot to win the starting job in 2009, but we list him here because David Johnson graduates and whoever lines up under center will be getting the keys to a Ferrari. Beaver is enrolled early, which helps his cause.
It’s not often a school like Tulsa gets a major recruit like Shavodrick (he initially verbally committed to Michigan). When you are Tulsa and you get this type of talent, will there be some extra pressure to get him on the field? You never know…
What to be concerned about: Jacob Bower, G.J. Kinne and Clark Harrell are all ahead of him on the depth chart.
Taylor McHargue (Rice)
Rivals rank: #30 Dual-threat QB
Also had offers from: Houston, Iowa State
Why he’s on the radar: Because he’s a potential starting quarterback at Rice, that’s why! In all seriousness, McHargue is a 3-star recruit who had offers from the likes of Houston and Iowa State. He actually committed to the Cyclones, but changed his mind when there was a coaching change in Ames.
The top quarterback in college fantasy football, Chase Clement, is gone and somebody has to fill his shoes. The early money is on Alabama transfer Nick Fanuzzi. Whoever gets the job will have a great chance to rack up the fantasy points. Keep an eye on McHargue.
What to be concerned about: He’ll have to beat out some upper classmen, including Alabama transfer Nick Fanuzzi.
More Watchlist QB's
Rivals Rank - Player - School
#12 Pro-style QB - Tyler Russell (Mississippi State)
#6 Dual-threat QB - Cody Green (Nebraska)
#4 Pro-style QB - Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
#11 Pro-style QB - Zach Mettenberger (Georgia)
#6 Pro-style QB - Richard Brehaut (UCLA)
In Part Three of our series, we'll take a look at the potential fantasy impact freshman running backs for 2009.
Todd DeVries is the founder of CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.