Every year, there are countless fantasy studs that prospective owners pencil in at the top of their draft boards, both in NFL and college fantasy leagues. The performance of these types of players is generally what makes or breaks a fantasy season. Every year though, there are those sleepers, those hidden, undervalued gems that fantasy owners stumble upon, who can often play a major role in cementing an owner’s place at the top of the standings.
Below, are 5 potential college quarterback sleepers who should help owners bring home fantasy gold in 2015.
Wes Lunt, Illinois
Lunt was having a great season in 2014 until he went down with a broken leg, and missed the better part of five games. Over the season’s first five games, Lunt was as solid as any QB in the country, averaging over 313 passing yards per game, and throwing 13 touchdowns to only three interceptions. Lunt is healthy now, and expected to slip back into his usual slot as the Fighting Illini’s starter. With a solid receiving duo in Geronimo Allison and Mike Dudek (when he returns from injury) and one of the nation’s top receiving running backs in Josh Ferguson, Lunt should easily replicate his early 2014 numbers if he can stay healthy, and could be a late-round steal for owners looking for depth at the QB position.
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Two seasons ago, Johnson threw for 3,467 yards and 25 TDs with seven INTs, while running for an additional 238 yards and five more scores. In short, he had a fantastic season. He started last season strong by throwing for 313 yards and a TD before injuring his hip, which ended his 2014 campaign. James Knapke was solid in relief, but Johnson is the Falcons’ unquestioned starter going into 2015. Bowling Green returns its top four wide receivers, led by stud rising sophomore Roger Lewis (73 rec. 1,093 yds., 7 TDs). Throw in talented running back Travis Greene, who’s always a threat to break off a big catch-and-run (14.6 ypc in 2014), and Johnson has all the pieces around him to become a nightmare for those fantasy owners not fortunate enough to grab him on draft day.
Matt Linehan, Idaho
Idaho definitely was not a good team last year, finishing the season with a 1-10 record. As a freshman, Linehan understandably showed some nerves, throwing 18 picks to only 11 touchdowns. He did have his positives however, throwing for over 320 yards in four of his first five games, along with nine touchdowns. Linehan’s production should receive a boost this fall, as 2013 receiving leader Dezmon Epps returns after missing all of last season following his dismissal from the team. Epps had 79 catches for 980 yards and four TDs in 2013, and should be ultra-productive again this season. The Vandals lose stud WR Joshua McCain (more than 1,100 yards receiving last year), but in addition to Epps, they also return improving tight end Deon Watson (37 rec., 343 yds., TD), as well as WR Jacob Sannon and RB Elijhaa Penny (combined for 34 receptions in 2014). With a year as the starter under his belt, and a number of returning weapons at his disposal, Linehan’s fantasy stock should definitely be on an upward trend in 2015. He could be a waiver wire gem for owners as the season progresses.
Sam B. Richardson, Iowa State
Can a guy who threw for 18 touchdowns, nine interceptions and 2,669 yards, and ran for 421 yards and three more scores really be considered a sleeper? When you take into account that Richardson plays for the worst team in the Big 12, and that fantasy owners have a tendency to shy away from players on bad teams, Richardson is often overlooked. However, he should be one of the top signal-callers in the Big 12 this year. He’s a dual-threat guy who has shown the ability to make plays with his legs as well as his arm. Richardson’s stock should be aided significantly by the return of a trio of talented wideouts — Quenton Bundrage, Allen Lazard and D’Vario Montgomery. Bundrage missed all of 2014 after tearing his ACL, but had 676 receiving yards and nine TDs in 2013. Lazard led the Cyclones with 45 catches in 2014, to go along with 593 yards. Montgomery had one fewer reception, but led the team in yards with 605. With a group of talented receivers and a relatively soft schedule (games with Northern Iowa, Iowa, Toledo and Kansas), Richardson could be a major contributor for owners willing to take a gamble on him.
Dane Evans, Tulsa
Last season, Evans was hardly a player fantasy owners could count on. Sure, he thew for more than 3,100 yards and 23 touchdowns, which would be solid numbers for any QB. However, Evans struggled mightily with consistency, throwing a whopping 17 picks. While this is definitely a red flag to fantasy owners, Evans should rebound nicely this year. Not only does he have arguably the best wide receiver in FBS to play catch with in Keevan Lucas (101 catches for 1,219 yards and 11 TDs) as well as rising senior Keyarris Garrett, but Evans’ game should definitely improve with the arrival of new head coach Philip Montgomery. Montgomery, the former offensive coordinator at Baylor, was a key figure in the development of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, as well as Nick Florence and Bryce Petty, each who became coveted commodities for fantasy owners. Under Montgomery’s tutelage, Evans should see a major uptick in production, and become a reliable QB2 for fantasy owners.
— Written by Andrew Bursey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network.