Sleepers Part III: Quarterbacks
Sleeper quarterbacks are rare finds. Rarely do QBs step right in as true freshman and make an immediate impact. So as tempting as it is to draft these highly fluffed recruits, we general advise on taking a pass on true freshman quarterbacks. Wait until they have a year under their belt before making the commitment. So instead of looking at a pool of youngsters with little to no track records, we start out by going in a different direction.
The Cincinnati Bearcats will see the biggest transformation in their offensive scheme, and the positive fantasy impact will be greater than any other team in the country. Exit Mark Dantonio and his plodding offense and enter Brian Kelly and his circus theatrics. Top returner Dustin Grutza didn’t exactly get off to a great start with the new ball coach; after starting nearly every game for the Bearcats he was rewarded with a seat on the bench when Kelly arrived as senior Nick Davila started in the International Bowl. This was an odd, but telling choice, considering Grutza is back and Davila is not. Ben Mauck comes over from Wake Forest and with the new NCAA rules, he will get a chance to compete for the starting job in August. However, at this moment, we are not saying which one of these guys we are considering the sleeper. Yes it is a bit of a cop out. But it will be one of them and we’ll tell which one as soon as Kelly names a starter.
As soon as Cody Hawkins inked his letter of intent to play for his old man we knew there would be a new BMOC at Colorado. After a year of redshirting, Hawkins seems poised to take over as the Buffs new QB for 2007. While Dan Hawkins was only able to provide us with a few sound bites last year (Go play intramurals brother), it will be only a matter of time before the Boise flavor starts to permeate through Boulder. To claim pure nepotism would be a tad unfair to Cody, who went 41-0 as starter in high school. Cody has talent and we could see a re-birth of offense in Colorado.
Al Pena is another transfer that we are eyeing closely. With Bobby Reid (a CFFinsder sleeper from last year) developing into a legitimate threat, Pena saw the writing on the wall and packed his bags for Houston. Again, a NCAA waiver will allow the senior to step in and compete right away. Pena is a quarterback with some experience stepping into a system that is known for airing it out. He’ll battle Case Keenum and Blake Joseph for the right to take over for Kevin Kolb.
Jameel Sewell and Thaddeus Lewis are two talented QBs that showed off their skills in starting roles last year. With a year under their belt, they should only improve. However, they both play for offenses that are short on talent. This makes them good sleepers for ACC leagues, but probably not ready for big time fantasy rosters.
Willie Tuitama started to become a household name in 2005, but injuries took their toll in 2006. Because of this we’ll give Tuitama a pass and list him once again this year. As we mentioned in our wide receiver article last week, the Arizona offense will see a major transformation with new OC Sonny Dykes coming over from Texas Tech. Arizona has a ton of returning starters and could be on the verge of breaking out in 2007. Tuitama is a high risk/high reward pick, but certainly worth a look in the later rounds.
Of course we would be remiss if we did not mention the Golden Boy, Jimmy Clausen and Notre Dame. But the keys to the offense are not being handed to the youngster just yet. Demetrius Jones and Evan Sharpley have more experience and are not going to give up easily. This battle is likely to last well into summer camp. Whoever is named will surely be worth consideration on draft day.
As mentioned in our initial sleeper piece (running backs) there are rules to sleepers, however more than anything a sleeper list is a chance for the drafter to go out on a limb and maybe go with his gut over data and research. It's the sleeper selections that truly lead to the most debate/riducule, and make those crazy drafts in mid to late August so much fun, because it's the sleeper selections that pan out that allow the eventual champ to stick out his puny chest a bit more during the bowl season parties. We've all known drafters who rely entirely on last year's stats, and while those teams often look solid on paper, each college fantasy season is a new beginning and never follows the script. Last year that person would of missed out on the likes of C.J. Spiller, Percy Harvin, Tim Tebow (keeper leagues), Juice Williams, and Bobby Reid, all guys we had pegged as sleepers/players that could breakout in 2006. Of course we also had the likes of Chris Markey, E.J. Jones, and Darrell Hutsona on that list as well.
So, we certainly recommend sticking with our draft kit in the early to middle rounds. We're convinced our big boards will lead you to fantasy glory. However, at the same time, trust your own feelings on draft day. If you've got a hunch that some unknown back that you saw play in high school is going to make noise in 2007, then we certainly urge you, the college fantasy diehard, to spend that final RB roster spot on your board. Just as sometimes it pays to double down when your instinct is talking, it also pays to take a risk. After all, if you weren't about taking fantasy risks, you'd spend all your time playing the predictable game of pro fantasy football.
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