College Fantasy Football (CFF) drafts start to heat up as we enter the middle of the summer. It’s now that CFF Managers begin to see the various magazines on bookshelves depicting college football teams and the vast information they contain. In preparing for your drafts, CFF diehards need to look for value players who can be drafted outside the Top 24 quarterbacks and become weekly starters. We’ll attempt to do just that in the paragraphs ahead with my favorite quarterback sleepers for 2023 college fantasy football.
Quarterback Sleepers for CFF 2023
Hopefully one of my quarterback sleepers will lead you to a CFF Championship. I will focus on quarterbacks from Power 5 (P5) and Group of 5 (G5) schools to provide as much advice as possible.
Before I provide a list of quarterbacks worth targeting outside the Top 24, here are a few key attributes that would help a QB make my list:
- An offense that historically scores more than 30 points
- Coaching change that includes a head coach/offensive coordinator that significantly impacts offense/tempo
- Offensive line with experience
- Dual-threat quarterback
- Shift in personnel that will benefit the quarterback
- Highly recruited prospect that transferred to a better situation
Before I get to my list, I asked YOU, the Twitterverse, what quarterback you were most confident in putting up a Top 24 season but who is currently outside the rankings.
And your results showed:
Leading up to your CFF drafts, which qb outside the
Top 24 Rankings, are you most confident that we will finish the season inside the Top 24?@MyFantasyLeague
— Goody Win (@JGoody77) July 6, 2023
Many of you are sold on Cameron Rising returning to form after his ACL injury and ready to lead the Utah offense. Let’s see if he made my list!
DJ Uiagalelei, Oregon St. Beavers
Uiagalelei is a transfer from Clemson. After being unseated by Cade Klubnik on the depth chart, DJ immediately found a new school. Uiagalelei joins a team that averaged 32 points per game last year. In 2022, the main focus of the offense was its running attack which averaged almost 200 yards a game.
With Uiagalelei under center this year, coach Johnathan Smith hopes to add a more explosive passing attack to their arsenal. One thing that immediately aids Uiagalelei is all five starting offensive linemen are returning for the Beavers. Before being benched at Clemson, Uiagalelei threw for 2,521 yards and 22 passing touchdowns. However, the offense at Clemson was never going to fit Uiagalelei’s skill set.
Having never set foot on campus, Uiagalelei committed to the Beavers solely based on their playing style and coaching. This union sets up a possible explosion of statistics for Uiagalelei. I love the upside, and the Pac-12 will provide a lot of high-scoring games for Uiagalelei to rack up big numbers for your fantasy football team.
Hudson Card, Purdue Boilermakers
Hudson Card is a transfer from Texas. After losing the starting position to Quinn Ewers last season and seeing the Longhorns recruit Arch Manning, Card wisely left for a better situation at Purdue. Jeff Brohm has left Purdue to take over his alma mater, Louisville and Ryan Walters assumes the head coaching duties at Purdue. Walters wisely brought with him offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. Harrell brings the “Air Raid” offense that was famously used by coach Mike Leach and where former QB Graham Harrell set NCAA records during his 4-year tenure at Texas Tech.
Hudson Card never got a firm footing at Texas, and he is primed to break out under the tutelage of Harrell. Although there has yet to be established success at the NCAA level before arriving in West Lafayette, Card will benefit from having a solid offensive line in front of him and many established receivers. Hudson Card may not begin the year as a starter on your CFF roster, but I believe he will be hard to keep off those rosters by the start of October.
J.J. McCarthy, Michigan Wolverines
Although J.J. McCarthy finds himself on many NFL lists for the 2024 draft, he is still widely underestimated by the CFF community after passing for 2,719 yards and 22 passing touchdowns while leading the Wolverines to the College Playoffs. In addition to his passing numbers, McCarthy also rushed for 306 yards and five touchdowns.
Michigan boasts the dynamic duo of Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards in the backfield. The Wolverines return Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson at wide receiver, while Colston Loveland returns at tight end. All the pieces have been assembled for J.J. McCarthy to post-career numbers in an offense that averaged over 40 points a game last year. If Michigan wants to hold off Ohio Stata for another year, they will lean on McCarthy. The second-year starter has tremendous potential to be a Top 12 producer drafted outside the top two dozen signal callers.
Drew Allar, Penn St. Nittany Lions
After waiting patiently for Sean Clifford to depart State College, Drew Allar inherits a team with many expectations heading into the 2023 season. The Nittany Lions averaged over 35 points per game last year with a QB that totaled 29 total touchdowns. In limited action, Allar threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns over ten games in 2022. To see the potential Allar possesses, watch the second half of the Indiana game. Allar was 9-of-12 for 75 yards and two passing touchdowns.
In addition, Allar has shown he can be an opportunistic runner, gaining 52 yards and rushing for one touchdown. The return of LT Olu Fashanu was huge for Penn St. and the blindside of Allar. The sophomore was the top-rated QB prospect in the class of 2022 and looks to show everyone why during the upcoming campaign. With a potent backfield that includes Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, the Nittany Lions look to take the next step as a national power. If that happens, Drew Allar will be one of the main reasons. CFF managers may draft Allar as a backup now, but he has all the potential to exceed that expectation.
Will Howard, Kansas St Wildcats
Will Howard took over for an injured Adrain Martinez last season and resurrected his collegiate career. After being named the starter as a true freshman, Howard failed to seize the opportunity and his future. Supplanted as the starter last season, he would receive a second chance, and this time, he made better use of the opportunity. In seven games, Howard passed for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns. Howard’s best game may have been against TCU when he threw for 225 yards, ran for 35 yards, and notched three touchdowns.
It appears Howard was ready to lead the Wildcats after being replaced by Adrian Martinez at the start of the season. Now confident that he is the unquestioned starter, Will Howard heads into 2023 with all starting five offensive linemen returning. Kansas State will miss the “do-it-all” Deuce Vaughn in the backfield, but Howard seems better ready for his second go-around as the quarterback.
Will Howard is the ideal candidate for a solid points-per-game average. He may not possess the ability to have “explosive” games like a few other names on this list, but Howard is a fantastic consolation if you wait to add quarterback depth to your roster that can post Top 24 numbers.
Spencer Rattler, South Carolina Gamecocks
Many thought Spencer Rattler would be preparing for his first NFL training camp by this time in his career. However, plans sometimes go differently than planned. Now, Rattler is entering his senior season as a Gamecock.
In 2022, Rattler threw for 3.026 yards and 18 touchdowns. In fairness, Rattler needs to cut down on his interceptions; last year, he had 12 interceptions. South Carolina averaged 32 points per game last season, 132 points over the previous three games.
Last year’s offensive coordinator, Marcus Satterfield, left to join Matt Rhule at Nebraska. Wisely, Shane Beamer brought in new coordinator Dowell Loggains. Loggains has NCAA and NFL experience as a QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator. Also in Rattler’s favor is returning receiver Antwane Wells Jr. The offense will grow together as the season progresses. Rattler may be a low-risk, high-reward player at his current draft position, allowing you to focus on receivers and running backs before taking your backup quarterback.
Cameron Rising, Utah Utes
He made my list! In 2022, Utah averaged 38 points per game, ranking eleventh in the nation. Cameron Rising posted a career year in 2022. Rising threw for 3,034 yards and 26 touchdown passes while also accounting for 532 yards rushing and five touchdowns. However, Rising lost his primary target, Dalton Kincaid, to the NFL. Brant Kuithe seems ready to fill in for the departed Kincaid.
Utah’s dual-threat QB is returning from an ACL injury that occurred last year, but all signs indicate he is prepared to lead the Utes to another highly successful season. The offensive line tasked with keeping Rising upright looks better than ever, with all five linemen boasting game experience, with three returning as starters. Rising is an interesting CFF play if you are willing to take some risk with your backup. With an offense this productive returning many of its key players, Rising has the potential to be a smash outside the current Top 24.
Group of 5
Talen Green, Boise St. Broncos
Talen Green was supposed to be the backup quarterback heading into his freshman year at Boise State. However, once starter Hank Bachmeier left the program, Green took over and led the team to eight wins. In 2022, he passed for 2,042 yards and 14 touchdowns. Green also produces on the ground as a dual threat by rushing for 586 yards and ten touchdowns. His greatest asset is his ability to do both.
The Broncos have a strong backfield with George Holani and Ashton Jeanty. Averaging almost 30 points a game last year, this team is ready to explode as a high-powered offense. The starting receivers (Stefan Cobbs, Latrell Caples, Billy Bowens) and many essential linemen all return. If the sophomore signal caller takes the next step as a passer, he could be in the conversation as a Top 10 CFF quarterback. If you draft now, take him as a third QB and be happy. As we approach September, I doubt you will be able to get Green at his current discount.
Zion Webb, Jacksonville St. Gamecocks
This Spring, Zion Webb was granted a seventh year of eligibility. In 2022, Jacksonville St averaged 36 points per game as Webb, the signal-caller, passing for 1,737 yards and ten touchdowns. Those numbers do not truly show what Webb can do on a football field. Webb also rushed for 647 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Webb can run and pass that could see him crash into the Top 24 party. If he continues to rush and score on the ground at this pace, Webb could enter the discussion as Top 20. In addition, Jacksonville St. returns all five starters on the offensive line. If the Gamecock increases his 55% completion rate into the 60% range, Webb may become an absolute steal for the upcoming season.
EJ Warner, Temple Owls
The American Athletic Conference is the mecca of “Group of 5” QBs. Located in one conference are CFF stars Frank Harris and Michael Pratt (both are firmly inside the Top 24 QBs in CFF). Soon, we will have to add EJ Warner to that list.
In 2022, Warner completed 60% of his passes for 3,028 yards and 18 touchdowns. Although his 12 interceptions need to be reduced, entering his sophomore season as the starter should show how much his work (and pedigree) will produce even better statistics. Assisting Warner will be the return of three starting offensive linemen. All the stars are aligned for Warner to join the AAC elite. Grab him as a late-round backup, yet, be glad in October when you have the next emerging star in the American Athletic Conference.
Chandler Rogers, North Texas Mean Green
Staying in the AAC, Chandler Rogers has transferred to the Mean Green from Louisiana-Monroe. In 18 games at ULM, Rogers totaled 3,704 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. For 2023, Rogers is expected to lead North Texas as the starting quarterback. Last year, the Mean Green averaged 33 points per game with over 460 yards of total offense.
The offensive line returns four linemen from last year’s starting group. Eric Morris takes over the Mean Green as head coach after being the offensive coordinator at Washington St., which averaged over 400 yards per game in 2022. All the ingredients are in place for North Texas to surprise a few teams this season. And he will be in the center of that dish as the key ingredient to their success. With the weapons in place, Chandler Rogers will have a breakout season and could finish as a Top 24 QB.
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Grayson McCall initially flirted with the idea of going to the NFL. Then, he was tempted to enter the transfer portal. Ultimately, McCall returns to Coastal Carolina and the wide-open Sun Belt conference. McCall has been named the Conference Player of the Year three times. The Chanticleers’ quarterback already holds the record for touchdown passes (78) and total touchdowns (95). McCall completed almost 70% of his passes in 2022 while tallying 2,700 yards and 24 touchdown passes. He also added six touchdowns on the ground.
To help McCall on the offense, the top three receivers all return. Sam Pinckney, Jared Brown, and Tyson Mobley combined for 160 receptions, 2,275 yards receiving, and 14 touchdowns. Coastal also returns three starters on the offensive line. With all this firepower at his disposal, it’s obvious why McCall returned for his final season. Acquire him as a high floor-type player, and be secure knowing you have a solid point producer on your CFF roster.
Got a few CFF quarterback sleepers of your own? Drop some names in the comments below!