John Laub breaks down the top 24 QBs in his 2020 CFF Quarterback Rankings and Profiles
College Fantasy Football is one of the most exciting games to play in fantasy sports. It is time to get off the sideline and sign up for a league on Fantrax: The Preeminent CFF site in the universe.
Considering the size of the CFF player pool, it is imperative to set league lineup rules that require two starting quarterbacks. When drafting signal callers, my general strategy is to acquire two of my Top-12 ranked players. I seek one pocket passer and one dual-threat playmaker. In 2020, a perfect duo would be Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, and Shane Buechele, SMU.
Unfortunately, it is not always a strategy easy to employ this year. In the Summa Cum Laude Mock Draft, I opened with Lawrence in the second round and patiently waited to acquire my second signal-caller: Dorian Thompson Robinson, UCLA. I only selected two quarterbacks and would be happy to pluck among the following available on the waiver wire: Brady White, Memphis, Sean Clifford, Penn State and Max Duggan, TCU. The position is deep for CFF managers in 2020, and I would prefer to invest in other positions before a second field general. Here’s a look at how my roster turned out.
For readers, I have placed the quarterbacks in tiers—Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude—to provide flexibly for CFF managers based on their league’s scoring format, roster construction and starting lineup requirements. After eight years ranking CFF quarterbacks, it is more appropriate to provide college fantasy footballers with player tiers.
If you want a look at the player rankings, I have provided player profiles for my Top 24 CFF quarterbacks. You can also check out all of my College Fantasy Football Rankings.
Enjoy my fellow CFF diehards!
CFF Quarterback Rankings and Profiles
Summa Cum Laude
Justin Fields, Ohio State
In 2019, I did not target Justin Fields aggressively in CFF Drafts, and only had him on one best ball team. I will not make the same mistake twice. At 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, the junior has a prototypical frame and the arm strength to make every throw on the field. A dual-threat competitor, he effortlessly avoids pass rushers and extends plays with his legs. He makes shrewd decisions and does not turn the ball over (41:3 TD-to-INT Ratio).
During his first season on campus, Fields was named the Big Ten Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year and First Team All-Big Ten. Also, he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O’Brien Awards. Fields produced one of the preeminent passing seasons in school, and Big Ten, history: He completed 62.7% of his passes for 3,278 yards and tossed 41 touchdowns. Fields added 484 rushing yards and ten touchdowns. He became the first quarterback in Conference history with over 40 passing and 10 rushing touchdowns in the same season. I expect another tremendous crusade for the Buckeyes’ star, and he is worthy of the top pick overall in CFF Drafts.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
In the NFL scouting community and among draftniks, Sam Ehlinger is not highly ranked as a pro prospect—I am confident in the Longhorns’ star as a professional and expect him to rise up draft boards this fall. Nonetheless, CFF diehards are all-in on the Texas triggerman. The junior is an elite dual-threat playmaker with an average arm. A sturdy competitor, he is an instinctive athlete, throws with anticipation, and absorbs big hits.
Since enrolling in January 2017 at Texas, Ehlinger has started 33 games after beating out Shane Buechele for the starting job. Last year, he averaged over 30 fantasy points per game and totaled over 400 for the season. He passed for 3,663 yards, rushed for 663 yards, totaled 39 touchdowns, and named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Wuerffel Trophy, and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award. During his campus tenure, the Senior has completed 68 aerial strikes and scored 25 times on the ground. Ehlinger is an elite option in CFF drafts and likely off the board among the first six selections this summer.
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
I am completely baffled on the wide disparity among industry experts on Trevor Lawrence in CFF QB player rankings. In a recent best ball draft, I snagged Lawrence in the third round, which is highway robbery. I will own the future No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft in every CFF league this summer if he continues to slide to me. At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, the junior is a combination of Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson as a prospect.
An incredible athlete, the dual-threat star produces an abundance of fantasy points each week with his arm and legs. Last year, he finished as the fourth-ranked CFF signal-caller with over 425 fantasy points, averaging 28.6 ppg. He passed for 3,665 yards, rushed for 563 yards and registered 45 touchdowns. He earned First-Team All-ACC and was a second straight All-ACC Academic selection. During his first two seasons at Clemson, he became the first true freshman to lead his team to a National Championship since Jamelle Holieway, Oklahoma in 1985 and has led the Tigers to a 25-1 record as a starter. If Lawrence falls out of the first round of drafts, he becomes a no-brainer selection for astute CFF managers.
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
In fantasy football, shrewd CFF managers draft players in elite systems and no offensive scheme in the nation provides better fantasy production at quarterback than coach Lincoln Riley. Over the past three seasons, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts all produced prodigious fantasy points: The Sooners’ starters averaged 4,280 passing yards, 870 rushing yards and 51 total touchdowns. I’m betting that Riley uncovers another fantasy star in 2020.
Unlike the aforementioned signal callers, who all transferred to Oklahoma, Spencer Rattler signed with the Sooners as a five-star prospect and consensus No. 1 quarterback in the class of 2019. In high school, the redshirt freshman was named an All-American Bowl selection and Elite 11 quarterback competition MVP. He saw very limited action last year, completing seven of 11 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Draft Rattler with confidence over the summer.
Sam Howell, North Carolina
Last year, so many freshmen signal callers impacted college fantasy football. Sam Howell stood the tallest when the season concluded. How good was the Tar Heels’ field general? PFF graded Howell as the “second-most-valuable season we have ever seen by a Power-5 true freshman quarterback.”
Howell improved as the season progressed, and in the final two games, he passed for 695 yards and tossed six touchdowns while earning the Military Bowl MVP against Temple. He guided North Carolina to a 7-6 mark after the team lost 18 of 23 games the previous two seasons. Howell completed 61.4% of his passes for 3,641 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was named FWAA Freshman All-American, ACC Offensive and Overall Rookie of the Year and Third Team All-ACC.
At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Howell easily drives the football deep downfield with a strong arm and good touch. A pro-style quarterback, he commands the pocket with good footwork, avoids pass rushers, and flourishes off-script as an improvisor. With Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome, the Tar Heels employ one of the top pass-catching duos in the nation, and Howell will take advantage of the mismatches all season.
Magna Cum Laude
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State
Spencer Sanders failed to meet the expectations of college fantasy footballers last year. A closer examination elucidates a potential breakout campaign in 2020. Sanders completed 62.8% of his passes for 2,065 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also scrambled for 628 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys’ signal caller earned Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and OSU Russell Okung Award. A scholar in the classroom, Sanders was named to the Second Team Academic All-Big 12. From a fantasy perspective, he scored 226 points and averaged 20.5 ppg., which ranked outside of the top 50 CFF signal callers.
As a high schooler, the redshirt sophomore was rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN and 247Sports and among the Top Ten dual-threat quarterbacks. He compiled a 46-6 record as a starter, winning 30 consecutive games to conclude his high school career. As a senior, he threw for 3,845 yards, ran for 1,380 yards and amassed 70 total touchdowns. At 6-foot-1 and 199 pounds, Sanders possesses the skill set and football IQ to take a nice leap forward under new quarterbacks’ coach Tim Rattay, who worked with Dwayne Haskins in Washington last year.
Kedon Slovis, USC
After graduating high school early, the true freshman enrolled at USC in the spring semester. When the 2019 season began, Kedon Slovis was second on the depth chart behind JT Daniels. He took over the reins of the offense in the opening game against Fresno State, and in the following contest against Stanford, he completed 28 of 33 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns. In November, the first-year phenom dominated Oregon, Arizona State, California and UCLA, passing for 1,617 yards and 15 touchdowns.
For the season, he started 11 times—missing the Washington game—finished third nationally in completion percentage at 71.9% and seventh in passing efficiency at 167.6. His completion percentage established a PAC-12 record, breaking Andrew Luck’s mark (71.3%) in 2011. He posted a 30:9 TD-to-INT Ratio and passed for over 3,500 yards. Slovis was the PAC-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and All-PAC-12 honorable mention.
During the offseason, offensive coordinator Graham Harrell and Slovis worked off the field studying game film and learning to communicate better. They studied defensive alignments, how to attack the opposition and call audibles at the line of scrimmage. The Trojans’ wide receiver corps are one of the best in the nation with Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns and Drake London. Slovis exceeds 30 touchdowns again and likely tops 4,000 yards passing.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State
Coach Matt Campbell led Iowa State to 16 victories in 2017 and 2018, but the Cyclones managed only seven wins last year and lost to Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl. Despite the lack of triumphs, the Iowa State offense gained much-needed experience, and QB Brock Purdy enters the upcoming campaign with 23 career games played. In 2018, he was named honorable mention All-Big 12 and Big 12 True Freshman of the Year. As a sophomore, Purdy earned Second Team All-Big 12, First Team Academic All-Big 12 and Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist.
A dynamic signal caller, he has passed for over 6,200 yards, rushed for over 550 and totaled 56 touchdowns in two seasons on campus. Purdy, 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, extends plays and creates outside of the structure of the offense with a gunslinger’s approach. An anticipatory thrower, he flings the football downfield with ease and places the ball into tight windows. Teammates RB Breece Hall and TE Charlie Kolar are among the top at their respective positions in the nation, and WR Tarique Milton is an underrated playmaker. Another terrific campaign for Purdy in 2020.
Shane Buechele, SMU
As a four-star recruit coming out of high school in 2016, Shane Buechele enrolled at Texas and started 12 games for the Longhorns. He played very well and was named honorable mention Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year after setting a freshman school-record with 2,958 passing yards. As a sophomore he suffered shoulder and ankle injuries and eventually lost the job to Sam Ehlinger.
In 2019, he entered the transfer portal as a graduate student and took over the Mustangs’ offense. Buechele finished among the leading CFF quarterbacks last year with 34 touchdowns and 3,924 passing yards. He posted three 400-yard plus passing games and scrambled for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He earned first team All-AAC and selected as a semifinalist for both the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards. Coach Sonny Dykes orchestrates explosive passing games, and the Mustangs employ a trio of playmakers (TE Kylen Granson, WR Reggie Roberson, Jr. and WR Rashee Rice) who will post many fantasy points once again. If an owner drafts running backs and/or wide receivers early, Buechele can anchor a CFF roster.
Holton Ahlers, East Carolina
I’m old enough to remember the halcyon days of East Carolina football: QB Shane Carden (2012-14), WR Zay Jones (2011-14) and WR Justin Hardy (2013-16) were all college fantasy football studs. After five consecutive losing seasons, the Pirates fortunes are bright on offense with QB Holton Ahlers, WR C.J. Johnson, and WR Tyler Snead.
As a true freshman two years ago, Ahlers did not assume the starting position until the seventh game of the season against UCF. In his first three starts, he became a waiver-wire acquisition in CFF leagues with 1,215 yards passing and six touchdowns. He also led the Pirates in rushing with 592 yards and six touchdowns.
Last year, the junior rushed for 359 yards with six touchdowns and dramatically improved as a pitcher with 3,387 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. On the national (FBS) level, Ahlers ranked ninth in total offense (3,746 yards), 12th in passing yards per game (282.2), 17th in completions per game (22.0) and 21st in passing yards. Ahlers has embraced Coach Mike Houston’s spread scheme and both expect to turn the Pirates into winners soon. The rising star is a dual-threat left-hander, who is a strong and elusive runner at 6-foot-3 and 236 pounds, and he likely takes another leap forward.
Asher O’Hara, Middle Tennessee
One of my favorite aspects of scouting CFF players is uncovering golden nuggets on teams among the Group of Five Conferences. Asher O’Hara is one of those gems in 2020. At 6-foot-0 and 188 pounds, the redshirt junior yields fantasy points on the ground and in the air. Last year, he eclipsed the magical 1,000-yard barrier rushing and accumulated over 2,000 yards passing. He added 29 total touchdowns. O’Hara led C-USA in total offense and recorded four 300-yard passing games, which is the third-most in school history. He also logged four 100-yard rushing games, which is the most by a quarterback in Blue Raiders’ history.
In mid-June, Athlon Sports announced its preseason All-C-USA Team and O’Hara projects as the QB on the Third-Team Offense. The dual-threat signal-caller has been preparing for another productive campaign: “This offseason, I’m just focusing on being a better leader. I’m getting healthy and throwing with my brothers right now during the quarantine…we’ve been getting good workouts in together,” O’Hara stated in the nashvillepost.com by Michael Gallagher. O’Hara is one of the optimum CFF quarterbacks heading into the 2020 campaign.
K.J. Costello, Mississippi State
Once again when drafting in CFF leagues, I gamble on coaches and their offensive schemes. Over my 12 years playing college fantasy football, few offensive-minded sages have been kinder to CFF managers than coach Mike Leach, who orchestrated high-scoring units at Texas Tech and Washington State. Graham Harrell, Luke Falk, Gardner Minshew and Anthony Gordon all became CFF luminaries in the Air Raid attack. Can Leach replicate his offensive success in the SEC?
In order to take flight, Leach required a quarterback who can command his aerial assault. He dipped into the NCAA transfer portal and plucked former Stanford star K.J. Costello. “Mike Leach’s offense is not complicated. We all know that. But, you have to have a quarterback who knows what he’s doing in that offense. That quarterback room, there’s no doubt it’s K.J. Costello. Because Garrett Shrader does not fit what Mike Leach wants to do in Starkville,” stated Barrett Sallee on 247Sports.com.
An injury-plagued campaign last year prevented Costello from improving on a terrific season in 2018 when the two-time captain earned Second Team All-Pac 12. In a ground-orientated scheme at Stanford, Costello passed for 6,151 yards with 49 touchdowns. He also started 25 games during his tenure on campus. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Costello is a pro-style passer with pro-level arm strength and acute football IQ; he rapidly identifies blitzers and weaknesses in coverage. Expectations are sky high for the Air Raid in Starkville, Miss., and shrewd CFF owners agree.
D’Eriq King, Miami
Many CFF experts are higher on D’Eriq King than I am. The Houston transfer was the No. 1 ranked player in drafts last year. He frustrated CFF owners when he decided to sit out the remainder of season after the Tulane game on September 19. I love King’s talent, skills and leadership; nevertheless, I have concerns regarding the surrounding skill-position talent on the Hurricanes, and I will not overpay for the Miami signal caller.
Ian Book, Notre Dame
In a CFF Dynasty league, Sam Ehlinger and Ian Book led my team to a Championship last season. Just in time for the post-season run, the Notre Dame field general produced a four-game stretch to end the regular season that I’ll never forget: He logged 959 passing yards, rushed for 265 yards and tossed 16 aerial strikes. The Senior is a stupendous second quarterback on CFF rosters.
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
As a true freshman, Jayden Daniels kicked off his college career with three consecutive eye-opening performances in which he led the Sun Devils to victory. He passed for 728 yards and 10 touchdowns and became a viable bye-week starter for the remainder of the campaign. At 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, the sophomore possesses the touch and arm strength to get the ball downfield and makes accurate throws at all levels of the defense.
Dustin Crum, Kent State
The top fantasy player from the MAC Conference is an undervalued asset in CFF drafts. Last year, Dustin Crum rushed for 707 yards, passed for over 2,600 yards and recorded 26 total touchdowns. He was named Offensive MVP of the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl with 289 passing yards, 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns. With early games against Penn State and Alabama, Crum might open the season sluggish before the Conference games kick off in October…Be patient.
Sam Hartman, Wake Forest
As a true freshman in 2018, Sam Hartman earned the starting position for the Demon Deacons. In 2019, he lost the job to Jamie Newman, who since transferred to Georgia. Now, Hartman stands atop the depth chart once again. The redshirt sophomore has played in 13 career games, tossed 20 touchdowns and passed for over 2,800 yards. Receiver Sage Surratt, who returned to campus for another season, provides Hartman with a much-needed home run hitter.
Jamie Newman, Georgia
I’m in disbelief how high Jamie Newman is being drafted in early CFF leagues. In my two most recent drafts, the Georgia transfer was the seventh (third round) and ninth (third round) quarterback taken off the board. At that price, I will not own a single share of the former Wake Forest star. I invest in systems and the Bulldogs are a ground-and-pound offensive scheme. I do not see any significant changes like LSU last year in the near future; therefore, Newman’s ceiling is limited as a fantasy passer.
Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
I invested so heavily in Adrian Martinez last season and am still suffering a little PTSD from my decision. But I cannot let recency bias effect my analysis this year. The junior’s resume is impressive: Freshman All-American, Team Captain (2019) and Academic All-Big Ten (2019). He has established many school records, induding four career games over 400-yards total offense, and in a single season, seven games with 300-plus yards of total offense (2018). A dual-threat playmaker, Martinez has rushed for over 1,200 yards, passed over 4,500 yards and totaled 42 touchdowns over the past two years. Draft Martinez with confidence this summer.
Myles Brennan, LSU
If offensive coordinator Joe Brady had returned to LSU, Myles Brennan would be ranked much higher. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, the junior replaces Heisman quarterback Joe Burrow and takes the helm of the Tigers’ record-breaking spread offense. In 2017, Brennan was one of the top quarterback recruits—a four-star rating—in the nation coming out of high school. He has thrown only 70 career passes while completing two touchdowns. The LSU signal caller offers huge upside as the starter in 2020.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Very quietly, Kellen Mond has shaped one of the noteworthy careers at Texas A&M among quarterbacks. He ranks in the top five all-time in career wins, passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and attempts. He joined Johnny Manziel as the only Aggies to throw for over 7,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards during their careers. Last year, he recorded 28 total touchdowns and registered 3,397 total yards.
Micale Cunningham, Louisville
Under first-year coach Scott Satterfield, the Cardinals surprised many experts posting an 8-5 record. QB Micale Cunningham took over the offense and set a school record for passing efficiency with a 194.5 mark. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, he passed for a career-high 2,065 yards and 22 touchdowns. And enhanced his fantasy production with 482 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The redshirt junior is undervalued in early CFF drafts and a terrific second quarterback.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
In CFF drafts, I embrace risk with my second QB and seek to acquire a high-ceiling, dual-threat competitor on my team. I like the risk-return ratio of Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who fulfills my aspirations in a signal caller. Two games best illustrate the incredible talent that the junior possesses. Against Washington State and USC, he scored 62 and 42 fantasy points respectively on 874 passing yards, 121 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. He will be owned on many of my CFF teams in 2020.
Dillon Gabriel, UCF
There were so many freshmen who influenced college fantasy football rosters last year. Dillon Gabriel started 12 games and guided the UCF offense to the second-best unit in the nation in total offense (540.5 ypg.), fifth in scoring (43.4 ppg.) and eighth in passing yards (316.7). He established a school freshman record for passing yards (3,653) and tossed multiple touchdowns in 10 games. The Knights are loaded on offense, and Gabriel will be a valuable asset on CFF rosters.
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