The long, cold winter has definitely settled in: 23 degrees, drifting snow. Continually lacing up the ol' Sorel Caribous. Undaunted by the fact that we have not seen the sun in about 26 days, we press on with a watchful eye on the 2011 college fantasy football season.
Now that the underclassmen have declared their intentions, we have a pretty good sense for the talent pool returning. So we put together what we affectionately call our "Way Too Early" 2011 player rankings.
Please understand there is a reason for the title. It is a first glance at the 2011 prospects. A gut feel. We have not fully analyzed returning o-lineman for each school. We have not yet plugged in the incoming stud recruits (signing day is February 2nd). We did not account for all of the new coaching changes, and we have not taken a peek at the upcoming fall schedules. All of that will come with due time.
We'll release one article per position per day. Here's the schedule:
Friday, January 21 - Quarterbacks
Monday, January 24 - Running Backs
Tuesday, January 25 - Wide Receivers
Wednesday, January 26 - Tight Ends & Kickers
We are going to pass on defensive rankings until later this spring. So, without further adieu, let us dive into the quarterbacks!
"Way Too Early" 2011 Quarterback Rankings
For the first time in a while, there probably is not a true consensus preseason No. 1 college fantasy QB (as we sit here in January). Houston's Case Keenum is clinging onto our top spot for the moment, but he is coming off an ACL injury—a worrisome trait for someone residing in our poll position.
If you're a glass half-empty kind of guy, there are holes to punch in the fantasy prospects of both Tulsa's G.J. Kinne and East Carolina's Dominique Davis. Kinne's head coach jumped ship for Pitt, while Dom lost his leading receiver as well as four offensive linemen.
Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are both surprisingly back in the fold in Stillwater. But the guy who masterminded their dramatic offensive rise in 2010, offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, left for Morgantown. As of this writing, head coach Mike Gundy has yet to name a new OC, although it is widely assumed they are going to try to keep the same offensive system in place. Easier said than done.
Hawaii gunslinger Bryant Moniz loses just about everyone around him—eight offensive starters including WR Greg Salas, WR Kealoha Pilares and RB Alex Green. Can the Rainbow Warriors slap together a decent o-line and find a fresh new set of receivers in time for September?
NC State's Russell Wilson will spend another offseason figuring out whether he will take to the diamond or remain on the gridiron. Something tells me he might opt for baseball this time around.
Since Michigan dumped RichRod, Denard Robinson becomes a tough guy to rank. If new head coach Brady Hoke decides to keep Shoelace in a similar offensive system, he'll shoot up our rankings. If there is any uncertainty, well then, D-Rob becomes a risky proposition. Spring should be very interesting in Ann Arbor.
Other QB questions to chew on
* Can North Western's Dan Persa return from a late season Achilles' tendon injury?
* What will the Boise State passing game look like without star wideouts Austin Pettis and Titus Young?
* Can BYU's Jake Heaps build upon his monster bowl game to become a viable fantasy QB?
* Will Seth Doege win the Texas Tech starting gig?
* What new twists and turns will we find in the Taylor Martinez soap opera? If you could guarantee us that he would be healthy and controversy-free in 2011, we would rank T-Magic much higher than where he currently sits.
* Who will Western Michigan's Alex Carder throw the ball to this fall? Trusty wideouts Juan Nunez and Jordan White are no more in Kalamazoo. Ditto for San Diego State's Ryan Lindley.
* Will Year 2 of the Sonny Dykes Project at La Tech go smoother than last year's disaster? We expected fireworks and were treated to a fizzled out sparkler instead.
* With Blaine Gabbert off to greener pastures, will newbie James Franklin be able to step in and produce right away at Mizzou? His supporting cast is outstanding.
* Can new OC Dana Holgorsen transform West Virginia's Geno Smith into a fantasy stud?
* Will senior-to-be Tyler Lantrip be able to even remotely resemble Colin Kaepernick in Reno? Or will host-shot youngster Cody Fajardo get a few reps in Coach Ault's Pistol offense?
* Who wins the quarterback battle in South Bend this spring? It should be fun watching Tommy Rees and Dayne Crist duke it out.
* Can Georgia-transfer Zach Mettenberger steal the LSU starting job out from under incumbent Jordan Jefferson?
Whew! There is certainly a lot to ponder as we head into the spring. Here is how we stack up the signal callers for the time being.
CollegeFootballGeek.com's "Way Too Early" 2011 Quarterback Rankings
|1||Case Keenum||Houston||returning from ACL injury|
|2||GJ Kinne||Tulsa||lost HC Todd Graham to Pitt, but talent returns|
|3||Dominique Davis||ECU||loses four o-linemen and WR Dwayne Harris|
|4||Landry Jones||Oklahoma||offense loaded, Broyles is back|
|5||Robert Griffin||Baylor||nine offensive starters return|
|6||Austin Davis||Southern Miss||nine offensive starters return|
|7||Brandon Weeden||Oklahoma St.||OC Dana Holgorsen gone, Blackmon returns|
|8||Bryant Moniz||Hawaii||loses eight offensive starters|
|9||Ryan Aplin||Arkansas St.||skill players return, old OC is new HC|
|10||Darron Thomas||Oregon||loses three o-linemen and WR Jeff Maehl|
|11||Kyle Padron||SMU||10 starters return, but Aldrick Robinson is lost|
|12||Russell Wilson||NC State||weighing his options with baseball|
|13||Dan Persa||Northwestern||Achilles' injury recovery is huge concern|
|14||Nick Foles||Arizona||WR Juron Criner returns but four o-lineman are gone|
|15||Denard Robinson||Michigan||could be ranked much higher if utilized same way|
|16||Andrew Luck||Stanford||only four starters back on offense|
|17||Geno Smith||West Virginia||OC Daa Holgerson should help, foot surgery in Jan.|
|18||Kellen Moore||Boise State||loses both WRs Austin Pettis and Titus Young|
|19||Chandler Harnish||No. Illinois||nine offensive starters return, but RB Spann is gone|
|20||Alex Carder||W. Michigan||interior o-line is lost, WR Nunez and Jordan White gone|
|21||Bryan Ellis||UAB||solid line returns, as does RB Pat Shedd|
|22||Chris Relf||Mississippi St.||was a monster in final three games|
|23||Taylor Martinez||Nebraska||the soap opera continues. High risk, high reward|
|24||Tyler Wilson||Arkansas||should fill in admirably for Mallett|
|25||Zach Collaros||Cincinnati||in for a bounce-back year?|
|26||Jeffrey Godfrey||UCF||can he avoid the sophomore slump?|
|27||Nate Scheelhaase||Illinois||lots of talent is gone, including LeShoure|
|28||Tim Jefferson||Air Force||769 rushing yards, 15 rush TDs in 2010|
|29||Seth Doege||Texas Tech||would be ranked higher if we knew he was starter|
|30||Kolton Browning||UL-Monroe||dual threat had a nice freshmen year|
|31||Matt Barkley||USC||fizzled in second half of season after strong start|
|32||Dayne Crist||Notre Dame||if clear cut starter emerges, would be ranked higher|
|33||Corey Robinson||Troy||finished strong—1,000 yards in final three outings|
|34||Ryan Lindley||San Diego St.||lost HC Brady Hoke, plus WRs Brown and Sampson|
|35||Zac Dysert||Miami, Ohio||can he win job back from Boucher?|
|36||Ryan Radcliff||C. Michigan||threw for 3,358 yards in first year as starter|
|37||Terrelle Pryor||Ohio State||five-game suspension is a killer|
|38||Kriss Proctor||Navy||showed flashes as backup to Ricky Dobbs|
|39||Tyler Bray||Tennessee||had a promising freshman year to build upon|
|40||Jake Heaps||BYU||strong final five games, huge bowl game|
|41||James Franklin||Missouri||rushing threat, lots of weapons to work with|
|42||John Brantley||Florida||Charlie Weis could help Brantley out—if he's the starter|
|43||Stephen Garcia||South Carolina||Lattimore and Alson Jeffrey return to help|
|44||Ross Jenkins||La Tech||lots of competition for job, first year was a bust|
|45||Ryan Tannehill||Texas A&M||filled in nicely for Jerrod Johnson|
|46||Aaron Murray||Georgia||Loses AJ Green|
|47||Steven Threet||Arizona State||Brock Osweiler will battle him for job|
|48||Taylor McHargue||Rice||whoever wins Rice job is a sleeper to watch|
|49||Tevin Washington||Georgia Tech||great rushing QB with lots of upside|
|50||EJ Manuel||Florida State||showed glimpses past couple seasons|
|BJ Daniels||USF||terrible bust in 2010. can he bounce back?|
|52||Alex Gillett||E. Michigan||capable of huge games, but is wildly inconsistent|
|53||Austin Dantin||Toledo||had some nice games before injury|
|54||Jordan Wynn||Utah||solid but unspectacular|
|55||Kirk Cousins||Michigan St.||only three games of 20+ fantasy points in 2010|
|56||Sean Renfree||Duke||inconsistent sophomore year, nice potential|
|57||Garrett Gilbert||Texas||huge question mark after disastrous 2010 season|
|58||Trent Steelman||Army||five games of 20+ fantasy points in 2010|
|59||Chris Masson||UL-Lafayette||four games of 20+ fantasy points, missed four with injury|
|60||Jordan Jefferson||LSU||with RB Ridley gone, will he be asked to do more?|
|61||Danny O'Brien||Maryland||loses stud WR Torrey Smith, coach Edsall in place|
|62||Rob Henry||Purdue||dual threat who finished strong in last two games|
|63||Matt McGloin||Penn State||will battle Paul Jones and Rob Bolden for job|
|64||Phil Bates||Ohio||great runner, needs to work on his passing|
|65||Tyler Lantrip||Nevada||replacing Colin Kaepernick will be impossible|
|66||Jacory Harris||Miami, FL||new coaching staff, Stephen Morris could win job|
|67||MarQueis Gray||Minnesota||has all the tools to be a star, will he be QB or WR?|
|68||Collin Klein||Kansas State||running QB who will need to improve passing game|
|69||Pete Thomas||Colorado State||deep sleeper with some upside|
|70||Ryan Katz||Oregon State||only had one 20+ fantasy point game in 2010|
|71||Mike Gerardi||Temple||had some nice games down the stretch|
|72||Ryan Griffin||Tulane||played well against weak teams on schedule|
|73||Chas Dodd||Rutgers||QB Tom Savage is transferring|
|74||Brock Mansion||Cal||Shane Vereen is gone, but eight starters return|
|75||Tino Sunseri||Pittsburgh||could Todd Graham turn him into a stat machine?|
|76||Jeff Tuel||Washington St.||threw for 2,780 yards and 18 TDS|
|77||Jerry Davis||Buffalo||battled Alex Zordich for time last fall|
|78||AJ McCarron||Alabama||Philip Sims battling for job|
|79||Taj Boyd||Clemson||finally, Kyle Parker is gone and the job is his|
|80||Ryan Nassib||Syracuse||had a surprisingly good 2010 campaign|
|81||Matt Schilz||Bowling Green||WR Kamar Jorden returns to help out|
|82||Casey Pachall||TCU||tough to replace Andy Dalton|
|83||Jon Budmayr||Wisconsin||Curt Phillips will fight for starting job|
|84||Wesley Carroll||Florida Int'l||TY Hilton returns to help out|
|85||Logan Kilgore||Middle Tenn||unenviable task of replacing Dwight Dasher|
|86||Tommy Rees||Notre Dame||whoever wins ND QB job should do well in year two|
|87||Austin Boucher||Miami, Ohio||will battle Dysert for starting job|
|88||Mike Glennon||NC State||will jump way up if Russell Wilson plays baseball|
|89||David Piland||Houston||waiting in wings if Keenum is not 100 percent|
|90||Kawaun Jakes||W. Kentucky||spot starter at best|
|91||Tyler Hansen||Colorado||had a few decent outings before rupturing spleen|
|92||Spencer Keith||Kent State||inconsistent. Had two nice games and five terrible ones|
|93||Nathan Stanley||Ole Miss||with Jeremiah Masoli gone, the job should be his|
|94||Terrance Owens||Toledo||will battle Austin Dantin for starting gig|
|95||Jerome Tiller||Iowa State||Austen Arnaud and Alexander Robinson depart|
|96||Jordan Webb||Kansas||had a disappointing 2010 season|
|97||Patrick Nicely||Akron||four decent outings to go along with 8 awful ones|
|98||Logan Thomas||Virginia Tech||replaces Tyrod Taylor|
|99||Caleb Herring||UNLV||hopes to replace Omar Clayton|
|100||Stephen Morris||Miami, FL||could unseat Jacory Harris as the starter|
Todd DeVries is the founder of CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier destination for all things college fantasy football.