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CFB Fantasy: Non-BCS Conference QB Battles

Athlon continues its 2010 college fantasy draft kit with a look at quarterback battles from Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and WAC.

Conference USA

East Carolina
The Contenders: Brad Wornick (SO), Dominique Davis (JR), Rio Johnson (SO), Josh Jordan (SO), Shane Carden (FR), Desi Brown (FR)

Leader: Wornick – Wornick is a walk-on that won the starting job out of spring practice, but has no game experience. Davis, a junior college transfer and former Boston College quarterback, figures to be his main competition in the fall and will be given every opportunity to win the starting nod.

Fantasy Impact: High. New coordinator Lincoln Riley is a Mike Leach disciple and plans to open up the East Carolina offense. Wornick is worth a look in the late rounds of drafts, but Davis could end up winning the job in fall camp.

The Contenders: Brian Anderson (SR), Willy Korn (JR)

Leader: Anderson – In his first full season as the starter, Anderson passed for 2,646 yards and 14 scores, along with 13 interceptions. Anderson wasn’t flashy, but was an effective option for Marshall last season. Korn is immediately eligible after transferring from Clemson and will provide a stiff test for Anderson in the fall.

Fantasy Impact: Wait and see. If Korn is able to wrestle the job away from Anderson, he could work his way into fantasy consideration. Korn is more mobile than Anderson, but does not have his experience.

The Contenders: Tyler Bass (SO), Cannon Smith (SO), Andy Summerlin (SO), Ryan Williams (FR), Will Gilchrist (FR)

Leader: Smith/Bass – Smith, a Miami transfer, may have left spring practice with a slight nod over Bass, but this job is far from decided. Bass has the most fantasy upside and played relatively well in limited work, throwing for 673 yards and six scores, along with 180 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Williams is the wildcard, after earning offensive MVP honors for his spring game performance.

Fantasy Impact: High. New coordinator Eric Price has a reputation of producing high-scoring attacks and the winner of this quarterback battle will be worth watching closely. Bass has the mobility to rush for 400-600 yards a season and if the passing game comes together, he could reach the top 20-40 of fantasy quarterbacks.

The Contenders: Nick Fanuzzi (JR), Taylor Cook (SO), Taylor McHargue (FR)

Leader: Cook – Fanuzzi started eight games last season, but was passed on the depth chart by Cook and McHargue in spring practice. Cook, a Miami transfer, stands 6-foot-7, but has good athletic ability. McHargue is an intriguing dual-threat option and impressed in spring practice.

Fantasy Impact: High. This may not be the Rice offense from 2008 with Chase Clement, James Casey and Jarett Dillard, but the Owls have some potential. Cook or McHargue could be a nice fantasy sleeper in fall drafts.

Southern Miss
The Contenders: Austin Davis (JR), Martevious Young (SR)

Leader: Davis – Davis was off to a great start last season, throwing for 10 scores and 1,165 yards in the first five games. However, a foot injury ended his year and Young assumed the starting job. Although Young played well in relief, Davis is the better fit for this offense and should reclaim the starting job in the fall.

Fantasy Impact: High. Whichever quarterback wins the job will be among the top-20 fantasy quarterbacks for 2010. Fantasy owners that draft Davis may want to draft Young as insurance, especially if no starter is named midway through fall practice.

The Contenders: David Isabelle (SO), Bryan Ellis (JR), Joe Bento (SO), Jonathan Perry (FR)

Leader: Isabelle – Isabelle saw limited action behind Joseph Webb last season, rushing for 288 yards and one score in 12 games. The sophomore also completed 6 of 14 passes for 39 yards and a score. Isabelle is clearly the most mobile quarterback out of this group, but he will be pushed by Ellis, who is a better passer.

Fantasy Impact: High. Although none of the quarterbacks on the roster are Webb, Isabelle could be a steal in the late rounds of fantasy drafts this season. Although his passing ability needs to be developed, Isabelle could rush for 700 yards this year.

The Contenders: Rob Calabrese (JR), Jeffrey Godfrey (FR)

Leader: Calabrese – The junior has 16 games of experience, but has produced a mixed bag of results. Calabrese has completed 42.7 percent of his passes on 211 attempts, but has 10 passing scores and only five interceptions. Godfrey is only 5-foot-11, but was regarded as one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks coming out of high school.

Fantasy Impact: Wait and see. Calabrese probably won’t register on many fantasy radars if he wins the job, but Godfrey could end up being a special player for UCF. Keep an eye on Godfrey’s progress this year, particularly if Calabrese struggles.


The Contenders: Patrick Nicely (SO), Matt Rodgers (JR)

Leader: Nicely – Rodgers suffered a torn ACL against Ohio, opening the door for Nicely to assume the starting job. The sophomore was so-so in his first experience on the field, throwing for 1,349 yards and six scores, along with six interceptions. Both quarterbacks should be good fits in new coordinator John Latina’s pro-style offense.

Fantasy Impact: Wait and see. Nicely has some upside, but the Zips are thin on proven options at receiver and there could be some struggles as the team adjusts to the new offense.

Bowling Green
The Contenders: Aaron Pankratz (SO), Matt Schliz (FR), Kellen Pagel (FR), Caleb Watkins (FR)

Leader: Schliz – Pankratz has the only experience of quarterbacks on the Bowling Green roster, but Schliz took a slight lead exiting spring practice.

Fantasy Impact: Potentially high. Don’t expect Tyler Sheehan numbers – 4,051 yards and 27 scores – but the potential is certainly there with this offense. If Schliz continues to pull away from Pankratz in the fall, move him up your draft boards.

The Contenders: Jerry Davis (SO), Alex Dennison (FR), Alex Zordich (FR), Rudy Johnson (FR)

Leader: Davis – With Zach Maynard’s transfer to California, four candidates will battle into the fall to win the starting gig. Davis has the most experience, starting one game last season and ending the year with 145 passing yards and one score.

Fantasy Impact: Potentially high – New coach Jeff Quinn spent over 20 years of his coaching career as an assistant to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and there’s no doubt some of Kelly’s offensive schemes will be used in Buffalo this year. Davis has potential and with the new offense, Buffalo will be a team to watch closely early in the season.

Central Michigan
The Contenders: Ryan Radcliff (SO), Derek Rifenbury (JR), A.J. Westendorp (FR), Kyle Smith (FR), Brandon Fricke (JR)

Leader: Radcliff – Replacing Dan LeFevour will be no easy task for Central Michigan. Radcliff wasn’t overwhelming in limited work, completing 10 of 21 passes for 115 yards and two interceptions last season and must adjust from the spread to a pro-style offense under new coach Dan Enos.

Fantasy Impact: Wait and see. Radcliff has solid physical tools, but the Chippewas lost a ton of talent at receiver and lack a proven running back to take any pressure off of the passing game. Also, the new offense will take some time for Radcliff to get comfortable in.

Eastern Michigan
The Contenders: Alex Gillett (SO), Devontae Payne (FR)

Leader: Gillett – Gillett was thrown into the fire as a true freshman last season and showed some improvement by the end of the year. In two of his final three games, Gillett rushed for over 100 yards, but tossed seven interceptions and struggled with accuracy.

Fantasy Impact: Wait and see. Gillett has some mobility, so he could push for 100 rushing yards in select matchups. Payne is a 6-foot-7 pocket passer and is someone who could see limited work, even if Gillett wins the job. Eastern Michigan will struggle to earn victories this year, but if one quarterback settles into the job, they could register on fantasy radars for a spot start.

The Contenders: Austin Dantin (SO), Alex Pettee (SR), David Pasquale (SO), Terrence Owens (FR)

Leader: Dantin – When Aaron Opelt was healthy last season, the Toledo offense was among the best in the nation. However, Opelt dealt with a shoulder injury most of last season, forcing Dantin into action. Dantin held up well in his first game action, throwing for 962 yards and four scores, along with 51 yards on the ground.

Fantasy Impact: High. If Dantin continues to show improvement and progress as the starter, he could post 20-30 passing scores in 2010. The Rockets have four starters back on the line and a proven receiver in Eric Page. Dantin is a QB3 in fall drafts with plenty of upside.

Western Michigan
The Contenders: Alex Carder (SO), Tyler VanTubbergen (FR), Drew Burdi (SR), Zach Wynn (FR), Mike Perish (FR)

Leader: Carder – Tim Hiller left Western Michigan as the school’s career leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions, leaving a huge void for the next passer that steps in. Carder saw limited work last year, completing 5 of 7 passes for 27 yards. The sophomore is regarded as an accurate passer with good athleticism.

Fantasy Impact: High. Although Carder likely won’t produce numbers similar to Hiller, 20-25 passing scores isn’t out of the question – especially with an impressive group of receivers.

Worth Watching

Ball State
Miami, Ohio

Mountain West

Air Force
The Contenders: Tim Jefferson (JR), Connor Dietz (JR)

Leader: Jefferson – Despite battling an injury last season, Jefferson finished the year with 848 passing yards and five scores, with 254 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Although those aren’t great fantasy numbers, Jefferson was an efficient leader for the option attack. Dietz is regarded as the better runner, but must improve his passing to overtake Jefferson this fall.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. Don’t be surprised if both players see significant time this year and neither figure to earn much fantasy value outside of a spot start.

The Contenders: Riley Nelson (JR), Jake Heaps (FR), Jason Munns (FR), James Lark (SO)

Leader: Nelson/Heaps – Max Hall and his 11,365 passing yards are gone, leaving four candidates vying for the job. Nelson started eight games at Utah State and saw limited work behind Hall last season. Heaps ranked as the No. 42 prospect in the 2010 Athlon Consensus 100 and could be named the starter exiting fall practice.

Fantasy Impact: High. Heaps is an excellent keeper pick and a top-50 fantasy option at quarterback this year. Heaps may start the year slow, but could be a QB2 or QB3 in 120 leagues by the end of 2010.

Colorado State
The Contenders: Pete Thomas (FR), Nico Ranieri (FR)

Leader: Thomas – Landing Thomas was a huge get for Colorado State, ranking as the No. 10 overall quarterback by Athlon Sports. Thomas is a 6-foot-5 pro-style quarterback, but has no experience on the collegiate level. Ranieri is regarded as a better runner, but also has a good arm.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. Thomas is an intriguing prospect for keeper leagues, but with two freshman quarterbacks vying for time, avoid the Colorado State quarterback situation early in the year.

New Mexico
The Contenders: Stump Godfrey (FR), B.R. Holbrook (SO), Tarean Austin (FR), Brad Gruner (JR)

Leader: Holbrook/Godfrey/Austin – It’s anyone’s guess who will start for New Mexico in the season opener against Oregon. Holbrook has experience, but Godfrey and Austin are better fits for coach Mike Locksley’s offense.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. Until a quarterback settles into the job and proves they have value, stay away from the New Mexico passers.

The Contenders: Omar Clayton (SR), Mike Clausen (JR)

Leader: Clayton – Clayton has 23 starts on his record and a solid 35 touchdown to 21 interception ratio. The senior also has 4,742 passing yards in his career, but faces a challenge from Clausen. Clausen threw for 463 yards and four scores last season, but also added 288 yards and seven scores on the ground.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. New coach Bobby Hauck wants to implement a more physical attack, but the personnel may not be there in 2010. If Clayton is the starter for the full year, 15-17 passing scores is a reasonable expectation. However, there are too many question marks for fantasy owners to spend a selection here.

Sun Belt

Arkansas State
The Contenders: Ryan Aplin (SO), Phillip Butterfield (FR)

Leader: Aplin – The Arkansas State offense was a disappointment last season, but the struggles of Corey Leonard allowed Aplin to gain valuable experience. The sophomore missed spring practice due to a shoulder injury, leaving the door open for Butterfield to work his way into the mix. Butterfield was a highly-regarded prospect out of high school, but has yet to take a snap on the field.

Fantasy Impact: Wait and see. The Red Wolves are implementing a no-huddle, multiple attack, which could present some fantasy value. Monitor this situation early in the season.

Florida International
The Contenders: Wayne Younger (SR), Wesley Carroll (JR)

Leader: Younger – Younger’s placement atop the depth chart was somewhat of a surprise, considering Carroll’s past starting experience at Mississippi State. Younger’s career numbers are dismal – 10 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and a 45.2 completion rate – but had a good spring to take the lead.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. Younger has shown nothing in past experience to generate any draft value and if he’s the starter, Carroll’s upside is probably 13-15 passing touchdowns.

North Texas
The Contenders: Derek Thompson (SO), Nathan Tune (SR)

Leader: Thompson – Due to an arm injury, Riley Dodge was forced to move to receiver, leaving Tune and Thompson to battle it out for the starting nod. Thompson expected to redshirt last season, but was called into action in the final game, completing all three of his passes for 60 yards and a score.

Fantasy Impact: Wait and see. The Mean Green has a plethora of weapons, so Thompson or Tune could be a nice QB3 or QB4 this season. Thompson has more upside and is a better fit for the offense, making him the likely starter for the season opener.

The Contenders: Jamie Hampton (JR), Corey Robinson (FR)

Leader: Hampton – Hampton was Troy’s starting quarterback in 2008, before a knee injury ended his season against Florida Atlantic. The junior finished spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback, but Robinson will push for time in the fall.

Fantasy Impact: High – Hampton could throw over 3,000 yards and 20 scores this season and with Dantavious Parker transferring, his fantasy value is in the rise.

UL Monroe
The Contenders: Trey Revell (SR), Kolton Browning (FR)

Leader: Browning/Revell – Despite Revell starting most of last season, Browning finished spring practice atop the depth chart. Revell threw for 1,739 yards and 12 scores last season, but also tossed 12 interceptions.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. Revell will have a chance to win the job in the fall, but neither quarterback appears to be anything more than a spot starter.

Western Kentucky
The Contenders: Matt Pelesasa (JR), Kawaun Jakes (SO)

Leader: Pelesasa – New coach Willie Taggart is counting on Pelesasa to be his triggerman for Western Kentucky’s west coast offense. Pelesasa is a junior college transfer and capitalized on Jakes missing most of spring practice due to injury. The Hilltoppers were sluggish on offense last season, ranking 104th in scoring offense, 101st in total offense and 110th in passing.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal – Western Kentucky should show improvement on offense, but Pelesasa isn’t likely to generate much fantasy value in 120 leagues.


Louisiana Tech
The Contenders: Ross Jenkins (SR), Steven Ensminger (SR), Colby Cameron (SO), Doak Raulston (FR), Taylor Burch (FR)

Leader: Ensminger – Ross Jenkins has 3,276 career passing yards and 24 passing scores, but left spring practice behind Ensminger. Ensminger started his career at Auburn, but has yet to throw a pass while with Louisiana Tech.

Fantasy Impact: Potentially high. New coach Sonny Dykes and coordinator Tony Franklin are installing a high-tempo attack and there are some intriguing options at receiver – Ahmad Paige, Phillip Livas, Tim Molton and R.P. Stuart. If the quarterback position is stable and the Bulldogs pickup the offense, expect Ensminger or Jenkins to be a steal in the late rounds of fall drafts.

New Mexico State
The Contenders: Jeff Fleming (JR), Matt Christian (JR), Tanner Rust (FR), Andrew Manley (FR), Trevor Walls (SO)

Leader: Fleming – Outside of running back Seth Smith, the New Mexico State offense was dreadful last season. The passing offense ranked 118th nationally and last in the NCAA in scoring offense, and Fleming was last year’s starter, tossing 12 interceptions on 172 attempts. Fleming left spring practice as the starter, but Manley and Rust are the two passers to watch in the fall.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. New coordinator Mike Dunbar is an intriguing hire and should make the passing game better this season. However, until the Aggies settle on one quarterback and develop options at receiver, don’t bother with any New Mexico State quarterback in a 120 league.

San Jose State
The Contenders: Jordan La Secla (SR), Matt Faulkner (JR), Dasmen Stewart (FR), Cory Murphy (FR)

Leader: La Secla – Under the direction of new coordinator Tim Landis, San Jose State will be switching from a spread to a more traditional offense this season. La Secla finished last season with 1,926 yards and 10 touchdowns, but also threw 11 interceptions. Faulkner, a former Fresno State product and junior college transfer, is expected to be La Secla’s biggest competition for the job.

Fantasy Impact: Minimal. San Jose State should show improvement under new coach Mike MacIntyre, but the offense won’t generate much discussion on the fantasy radar.

Worth Watching


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