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CFB Fantasy: QB Sleepers

Athlon continues the release of its college fantasy draft kit with a look the top sleepers at quarterback.

It’s never easy defining sleepers. Is a sleeper a player who is ranked after No. 25 or is it someone who isn’t ranked? An owner playing college fantasy football for the first time may consider someone like SMU’s Kyle Padron a sleeper. However, a veteran of many college fantasy leagues and probably wouldn’t consider Padron much of a sleeper. Cincinnati’s Zach Collaros ranks just outside of our top-10 for fantasy quarterbacks. Is it fair to call him a sleeper? Probably not, but you get the picture. Defining sleepers isn't easy.

With that in mind, this list takes into account each fantasy owner has a different knowledge set when it comes to college football. Don’t take a sleeper as your first quarterback in 120 leagues, but consider taking these passers as a QB3 or QB4, in hopes they can be a starting option this year.

Quarterback Sleepers for 2010


Sean Renfree, Duke – Despite Thaddeus Lewis finishing his eligibility, Duke should be fine on offense with Renfree taking over. The sophomore played in six games last year, throwing for 330 yards and four touchdowns. The Blue Devils have a solid cast of receivers and Renfree’s potential in limited work last season makes him an intriguing option to get to 20-25 passing touchdowns.

Jamarr Robinson, Maryland – An injury to Chris Turner opened the door for Robinson to see significant playing time over the final four games of last season. Robinson wasn’t overmatched in his first action with Maryland, rushing for 129 yards at Virginia Tech and totaling 271 yards against Florida State. Robinson needs work as a passer, but he could be a dynamic rusher this season.

Big East

Ryan Nassib, Syracuse – Syracuse coach Doug Marrone tookover the playcalling duties in the final two games of last season, and the Orange went on to post back-to-back 30-point efforts. Nassib threw for 422 yards and three scores in limited work, but is also regarded as an effective runner. Nassib still needs to prove he can be an every week option, but the Orange offense showed promise at the end of last year.

Geno Smith, West Virginia – Smith ranked as Athlon’s No. 14 overall quarterback coming out of high school and threw for 309 yards and one score in five contests last year. Smith has immense talent and is a dual-threat option, but must stay healthy after suffering a broken foot in conditioning drills.

Tino Sunseri, Pittsburgh – Sunseri may not be an every week option this year, but he should have plenty of opportunities to throw in the redzone with defenses lining up to stop Dion Lewis. Sunseri may have been the better quarterback exiting spring drills last season, but veteran Bill Stull got the nod under center. Keep an eye on Sunseri for a spot start in select matchups.

Big Ten

Kirk Cousins, Michigan State – Cousins shared time early last season with Keith Nichol, but eventually emerged as Michigan State’s clear starter and Nichol moved to receiver in spring practice. Cousins finished last year with 2,680 yards and 19 scores and should easily surpass those in 2010. Throwing for 3,000 yards and 25 scores is a reasonable expectation.

Tate Forcier, Michigan – There’s a lot of question marks surrounding Forcier this fall. There’s no guarantee the sophomore will start and even if he does, could he lose time to Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner? If Forcier manages to see a majority of the snaps, reaching the top 40 of fantasy quarterback should be easily attainable.

Robert Marve, Purdue – Marve sat out last season as a result of NCAA transfer rules, after making the move from Miami. In his one season in Coral Gables, Marve started 11 games and threw for 1,293 yards and nine touchdowns. Marve has a solid cast of weapons returning, but must improve his decision making to be an every week starter.

Dan Persa, Northwestern – Whether it’s been Brett Basanez, C.J. Bacher or Mike Kafka, owners have been able to find a solid fantasy option from the Northwestern quarterback position. Persa looks to continue the run and has shown solid ability in limited work. Persa threw for 224 yards and two scores last year, along with earning 167 on the ground. Don’t be surprised if Persa rushes for 500 yards this year and earns 13-16 passing scores.

Big 12

Kale Pick, Kansas – Todd Reesing is gone, but Pick offers some intriguing dual-threat ability. On 14 carries last season, Pick managed 167 yards and no scores. Pick still needs to show he can consistently be a productive passer, but certainly worth the risk as a QB4 or QB5.

Conference USA

Tyler Bass, Memphis – Bass is locked into a tight battle for the starting job, but he carries the most upside – assuming he is the starter. Before a shoulder injury ended his 2009 campaign, Bass threw for 673 yards and six scores, along with 180 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Bass is a dual-threat option, but new coordinator Eric Price wants to run more of a pro-style attack. If Bass and Price can find the right combination, keep an eye on the Memphis offense this year.

Taylor Cook, Rice – The 2010 Rice offense won’t be the 2008 version with Chase Clement, James Casey and Jarett Dillard, but there is some intriguing potential. Cook, a Miami transfer, completed 12 of 18 passes for 111 yards in the spring game and could push 20 passing scores this year.

Dominique Davis/Brad Wornick, East Carolina – The new East Carolina offense should feature plenty of passing yards and scores. Coordinator Lincoln Riley was hired from Texas Tech to implement a spread offense and the new triggerman could be a sneaky pickup at the end of a draft as a QB3 or QB4.

Ryan Griffin, Tulane – Tulane usually churns out productive fantasy running backs, but there could be a changing of the guard in 2010. The Green Wave is looking to transition to a vertical passing attack and Griffin will be the main benefactor. As a freshman last year, Griffin threw for 1,382 yards and nine scores, but should easily surpass those numbers in 2010. Don’t expect value every week, but keep a close watch on for a possible spot start.

David Isabelle, UAB – The Blazers have a large void under center with Joseph Webb expiring his eligibility. Isabelle saw action in a limited role last season, rushing for 288 yards and a score on 32 carries. Isabelle needs work as a passer, but as displayed last year, he could be a threat to rush for 700 yards this season.


Alex Carder, Western Michigan – The Broncos have a deep collection of receivers, but must replace record-setting signal-caller Tim Hiller. Carder only saw limited work last season, but held onto the starting job in the spring. Carder likely won’t eclipse Hiller’s 3,249 yards and 23 scores from last season, but 2,600 yards and 15-20 scores can be expected.

Jerry Davis, Buffalo – New coach Jeff Quinn has spent a good chunk of his career under offensive mastermind and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and plans on implementing a similar offense to the one they ran at Central Michigan and at Cincinnati. If Davis earns the starting job, he may not post Tony Pike or Dan LeFevour type numbers, but over 2,000 yards of total offense and 25 scores is reasonable.

Boo Jackson, Ohio – Remember him? Jackson missed most of last season due to a shoulder injury, but is back to stake his claim for the starting job in a battle with Iowa State transfer Phil Bates. Jackson totaled 2,688 yards and 21 total scores in 2008 and reaching those numbers in 2010 should be easily attainable. 

Matt Schliz, Bowling Green – Don’t expect Tyler Sheehan value (4,051 passing yards and 27 scores last season), but Schliz could post solid numbers in select matchups.


Brock Osweiler/Steven Threet, Arizona State – With a new offense comes hope of improvement. Arizona State ranked 91st nationally in scoring offense last season and new coordinator Noel Mazzone hopes an up-tempo spread attack will help put points on the board. Osweiler and Threet are battling for the starting role, but if the promises about the offense hold true – and the Sun Devils get a little help from the offensive line and receivers – there could be a nice spike in production.


Cameron Newton, Auburn – Coordinator Gus Malzahn has the perfect triggerman for his Auburn offense. Newton comes to Auburn from Blinn College and previously had a stop at Florida. Newton remains a work in progress as a passer, but his mobility and physical tools provide Malzahn with an intriguing quarterback to develop.

Chris Relf/Tyler Russell, Mississippi State – Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen may split the quarterback duties between Relf and Russell, but if one manages to win the job, they will have value in BCS-only and potentially 120 leagues. Relf is the better runner and if he starts all 12 games, 700 rushing yards is reasonable. Russell, a better passer, has more upside, but is taking the first snaps of his career this season.

Sun Belt

Ryan Aplin/Phillip Butterfield, Arkansas State – The Red Wolves are switching to a multiple offense, giving a boost to the value of Aplin or Butterfield. In order to have any fantasy value, a starter must emerge, but with several favorable conference matchups, the winner is a nice option to monitor throughout the year.

Derek Thompson, North Texas – An arm injury forced Riley Dodge to move to receiver, but North Texas feels like Thompson will emerge as a more than capable quarterback. Thompson’s resume includes only one game of experience, but with a host of weapons around him and favorable conference matchups, he’s worth a look in the late rounds of 120 leagues.

Jeff Van Camp, Florida Atlantic – Rusty Smith was an effective fantasy quarterback in his tenure at FAU, now it’s up to Van Camp to pickup where he left off last season. With Smith injured, Van Camp assumed the starting role and threw for 1,372 yards and 12 scores. The offensive line is a major concern with five new starters, but Van Camp was impressive last year and could approach 20 passing scores.


Ryan Colburn, Fresno State – With Ryan Mathews gone, Fresno State will be reshaping its offense around Colburn. The senior threw for 2,459 yards and 19 scores last season and could easily see an increase to 25 passing scores and nearly 3,000 yards in 2010.

Steven Ensminger, Louisiana Tech – Wherever Tony Franklin goes, fantasy owners need to pay attention. With Franklin now calling Ruston home, the starter at Louisiana Tech needs to be on all fantasy radars. Ensminger has yet to take a snap of action for the Bulldogs, but left spring practice with the lead over Ross Jenkins. If the Bulldogs settle on one quarterback, throwing for 2,500-3,000 yards and 20-25 scores is easily within reach.

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