1. Case Keenum, Houston
There are two reasons to worry about Keenum's ability to meet expectations in 2010. First and most important, offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen bolted for Oklahoma State, leaving Houston with the in-house but unproven replacement of Jason Phillips for the job. Second and similarly important, top running back Charles Sims was ruled ineligible for the 2010 season. Sims contributed 1,457 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns as a freshman last year while splitting the workload with Bryce Beall. The good news is that, if Beall's 2008 freshman season is any indication, he's more than capable of picking up the slack. He was brilliant that year, totaling 1,770 yards from scrimmage and scoring 17 times as the feature back. There's more good news for Keenum in the return of his top three receivers from last year: James Cleveland, Tyron Carrier and Patrick Edwards. In short, you can't be overly critical of a player who threw for 5,632 yards and 44 touchdowns while adding four more touchdowns on the ground. He's the top fantasy prospect for 2010.
2. Zach Collaros, Cincinnati
Collaros' numbers from 2009 as a sophomore were staggering, though his time on the field was relatively brief. Still, 75 percent of his passes were completed and he averaged 11.6 yards per attempt. Those are incomprehensible numbers. He also threw 10 touchdowns to two interceptions and ran for 344 yards and four touchdowns on just 57 attempts. The reason Collaros should take the next step in 2010 is the arrival of head coach Butch Jones. Jones engineered the offenses that gave Dan LeFevour his gigantic numbers at Central Michigan. If LeFevour's stats in 14 games from last year (3,438 yards and 28 passing touchdowns, 714 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns) are any indication of what Collaros has to look forward to, the gap between him and Keenum could be smaller than most expect. Collaros has a brilliant supporting cast and should be able to outdo LeFevour's numbers with a little luck.
3. Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
It's hard to believe Johnson had to go down to the wire in his competition with Ryan Tannehill for the starting job last year. Perhaps head coach Mike Sherman felt a bit silly about the competition after Johnson threw for 3,579 yards and 30 touchdowns while adding 506 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. It'd be nice to see Johnson take the next step by improving his completion percentage (59.6) and yardage per attempt average (7.2), as both were less than great. But you have to like Johnson's chances of doing even better in 2010 ó he might have the best group of receivers in the country, and Texas A&M's rushing attack of Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray keeps defenses from playing purely against the pass. The main reason to expect better things from Johnson this year, however, is his sheer talent. He's a giant of a quarterback but a tremendous athlete and has the arm to make all the throws. He has experience on his side now and the combination of his skill and the great players around him should prove to be an extremely explosive combination.
4. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Kaepernick tends to put up mammoth numbers against weaker schools and mediocre numbers against the good ones. Luckily for him, the Nevada schedule features only one particularly frightening match-up in Boise State, and he held his own against them last year. California, BYU and Fresno State are slight concerns, but Kaepernick should be fine in those games for the most part. The real perk to drafting Kaepernick is what he does against the likes of Idaho, as he ran for 230 yards and four touchdowns while throwing for 178 yards and two more touchdowns in last year's game. His numbers as a whole are certainly fantastic, too, given that he threw for 2,052 yards and 20 touchdowns to just six interceptions while adding 1,183 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. The 2010 schedule features a number of pushover defenses for Kaepernick to feast on, so he'll undoubtedly have some more ridiculous numbers in 2010.
5. Dwight Dasher, Middle Tennessee State
Like Kaepernick, Dasher is a player who you might want to sit against competent defenses. He started 2009 with a rather miserable outing in a blowout against Clemson, throwing three interceptions and scoring just once. But once he gets his shot at the smaller schools, which make up the vast majority of Middle Tennessee State's Sun Belt schedule, Dasher is a beast. His 2009 interception total of 14 needs to improve and he could stand to be more accurate as a passer, but he threw for 23 touchdowns and added 1,154 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He has a pretty good group of receivers to throw to and will hopefully progress heading into his senior year, so Dasher should at least match last year's numbers.
6. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
If you're the gambling sort, go ahead and move Weeden up to No. 2 or 3. Remember Dana Holgorsen, the guy who was running the offense for Case Keenum in Houston? He's running Weeden's offense now. It's difficult to invest so much faith in Weeden as to assume he'll even slightly approach Keenum's production, but Weeden might be throwing around 600 passes this year. He doesn't have much of a work history to refer to, but he completed 62.5 percent of his passes while throwing for 248 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in limited time last year. If the transition to the full-blown Holgorsen offense takes place immediately, it will be difficult for Weeden to land any lower than this in the rankings by the end of 2010.
7. Robert Griffin, Baylor
Griffin was one of the most disappointing players of 2009, but of no fault of his own. He suffered a torn ACL in the third game of the year after completing 65.2 percent of his passes for 481 yards and four touchdowns and running for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Griffin is a special player and should be one of the country's best all-around performers if his injury doesn't linger. ACL injuries aren't what they used to be, and it happened early enough in 2009 that Griffin should be his old self by the start of this year. Griffin had one of the most impressive freshman performances of recent memory in 2008, when he ran for 843 yards and 13 touchdowns while throwing for 2,091 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Although his blazing speed and special running ability make people often assume Griffin is no more than a runner, he's been shockingly good at protecting the ball, throwing just three interceptions in his 336 career pass attempts.
8. Russell Wilson, North Carolina State
Wilson's ranking needs a major asterisk for the time being. He was selected in the fourth round of the MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies, and even though he said he'd be back to play football this fall, it might be hard for him to turn down an offer from the Rockies once he actually sees it in front of him. But when Wilson is on the football field, there are few players more impressive. When you consider that his 3,027 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions through the air with 260 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in 2009 were actually a regression from his freshman year performance in 2008 (17 touchdowns to one interception), it certainly says a lot about how good he is. If Wilson is definitely back during the fall, feel free to draft him and expect big things. The only concern with him is whether he's playing.
9. G.J. Kinne, Tulsa
This ranking is assuming Kinne improves drastically from his disappointing 2009 performance. The Texas transfer has far better pedigree than recent Tulsa quarterbacks like David Johnson and Paul Smith, but he failed to get anywhere near their level of productivity last year. If past Tulsa quarterback play is any indication, Kinne should be better this year in an offense that historically is like Houston-lite. It's that point that makes Kinne's 2009 numbers unimpressive, because they'd be good in other offenses: 60.9 percent of passes completed while throwing 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In the year before, David Johnson threw 46 touchdowns. In 2007, Paul Smith threw 47. To state it more simply, Tulsa's starting quarterback has thrown 45 or more touchdowns in two of the last three years. Kinne is due for a major bump up in production in 2010.
10. Kyle Padron, SMU
For some reason, Padron didn't get put into the SMU lineup until the seventh game last season. The delay is puzzling because he was instantly brilliant, finishing the year with a completion percentage of 67.2, an average of 9.6 yards per pass attempt, 1,922 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. The high point was his performance in a 45-10 beatdown of Nevada in the team's bowl game, when he threw for 460 yards and two touchdowns. Since SMU's offense is run by former Hawaii coach June Jones, many pass attempts will be made in 2010. Expect Padron to build on his fantastic freshman year and make the most of those opportunities.
11. Jake Locker, Washington
The consensus on Locker is that he's an excellent bet to be a top-ten pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He has the arm, size and athleticism to almost anything that's asked of him, and the 2010 Washington offense will give him some good weapons to work with. With that said, Locker probably isn't in the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks because he isn't in the wild, shootout-style offenses that players like Houston's Case Keenum and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick benefit from. Locker is, however, the top fantasy quarterback option in the Pac-10, assuming Oregon's Jeremiah Masoli doesn't play in 2010. Stanford's Andrew Luck will give Locker some serious competition for the title, though.
12. Kellen Moore, Boise State
Moore is a legitimate Heisman candidate and the leader of one of the nation's most prolific offenses. It is no surprise that the Broncos went undefeated last season with a quarterback who threw for 39 touchdowns against a measly three interceptions. He is not big or fast and does not have a great arm, but Moore always knows what to do and rarely misses his target. He should be a very high pick in all formats in 2010, though players like Case Keenum and Zach Collaros should go ahead of him.
13. Steven Sheffield, Texas Tech
Sheffield lacks the build you want to see in a quarterback and seems a bit frail, but there's no denying his productivity. Although his competition (Taylor Potts) is far more physically talented, Sheffield gets it done on the field. The numbers from last year are staggering: 74.3 percent of his passes completed fo 1,219 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. That's nine yards per attempt, by the way. If Potts sees the field in 2010, it should be because Sheffield got hurt or because it's garbage time.
14. B.J. Daniels, South Florida
Daniels had a very successful freshman season last year, proving to be a decent passer and an exceptional runner. If he can improve on his completion percentage from last year (53.7) while keeping his yards per attempt at the same level (8.7), he could emerge as one of the nation's elite fantasy quarterbacks. His performance last year gives reason for optimism, and he seems at worst to be the best quarterback option in the Big East not named Zach Collaros.
15. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Gabbert had a solid 2009 season despite playing with a lingering ankle injury that slightly limited his mobility. He completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,593 yards, racking up 24 touchdowns through the air. He did have nine interceptions, but that number could drop in his second full season as a starter. Gabbert should see a small increase in his completion percentage and passing yardage, and on a healthy ankle he will likely do more damage running the ball. Last season he accumulated 204 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and he should top the 200-yard rushing plateau with ease this season.
16. John Brantley, Florida
Brantley will attempt to fill the shoes of one of the most-accomplished college players of all-time in Tim Tebow, but the comparisons of the two end at "starting quarterback for the Gators." Tebow excelled as an exceptional runner from the quarterback position, but Brantley is nearly the opposite. He doesn't have great running ability, but he's got a much stronger arm than his predecessor and can get the ball down the field. This clashes a little bit with Urban Meyer's offensive scheme, but Brantley will still be successful with just a few tweaks. Additionally, he won't enter the season completely green after seeing action in six games last season and eight the year before. Brantley won't put up the rushing totals that Tebow did, but his ability to move the ball through the air, and the talent on the Florida roster, should allow him to approach 30 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.
17. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Mallett is a lock to be one of the better fantasy quarterbacks in the country this year. He averaged nine yards per attempt as a sophomore last year, throwing for 3,624 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. His production could significantly increase this year if he finds a way to complete more than the 55.8 percent of his passes that he did last year. If you want him, you'll need to take him early. The Michigan transfer and former five-star recruit should be even better this year as he improves personally and as his young but talented wideouts improve.
18. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
Pryor didn't look as good in 2009 as he did his 2008 freshman year. It seems that defenses were scared silly of Chris Wells running all over them, and they left the passing lanes open for Pryor in their attempts to slow down Wells. It turns out that Brandon Saine isnít as scary, so defenses turned their focus to Pryor. After completing 60.2 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions while averaging 7.9 yards per attempt as a freshman, Pryor regressed in all passing categories in 2009, completing 56.5 percent of his passes for 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while averaging 7.1 yards per attempt. Of course, you know you'll always have good rushing numbers from Pryor, but he's mainly valuable in Big Ten-only leagues.
19. Jeff Van Camp, Florida Atlantic
Van Camp inherits the offense in which Rusty Smith put up big numbers the last four years. Van Camp gave us a preview of what's to come in 2010 as a junior, when he took over for an injured Smith and threw for 1,372 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 59.2 percent of his passes. He also ran for three touchdowns. In the two years Smith started prior to 2009, he totaled 60 touchdowns, so Van Camp should find himself in a profitable position this year.
20. Dayne Crist, Notre Dame
Crist is set to take over in the place of Jimmy Clausen, and the former major recruit has huge expectations to meet this year. Brian Kelly's bringing a new offense over, and it should be favorable to Crist's numbers. But then there's the issue of how competent Crist is as a player. Crist completed just 10-of-20 passes last year for 130 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He'll have to be much better than that in 2010, but the presence of wideout Michael Floyd and tight end Kyle Rudolph as well as Kelly's superb history with quarterbacks means Crist should be a good fantasy option this year and has high upside.
21. Ricky Dobbs, Navy
Everyone talks about Colin Kaepernick and Dwight Dasher when it comes to the top rushing quarterbacks, but why doesn't Dobbs get more attention? He totaled 1,192 yards and 27 touchdowns on the ground last year and added 1,031 yards, six touchdowns and just three interceptions through the air. He probably can't match that output in 2010 and there are injury concerns with him, but he's worth consideration in most formats.
22. Diondre Borel, Utah State
Borel is one of the nation's best all-around quarterbacks, and the same is true in the fantasy realm. He was extremely efficient through the air last year, completing 58.5 percent of his passes for 2,885 yards while throwing 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His running ability is similarly impressive, as he totaled 458 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
23. Andy Dalton, TCU
Dalton should be one of the nation's best quarterbacks in 2010, and certainly one of the best fantasy quarterbacks. He ran for 512 yards and three touchdowns while adding 2,756 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air. He threw just eight interceptions and averaged 8.5 yards per attempt. He should be at least as good this year.
24. Andrew Luck, Stanford
Stanford obviously had high expectations for its super-recruit last year, but Luck's redshirt freshman performance was hardly something you'd anticipate. He threw just four interceptions compared to 13 touchdown passes, and averaged a highly impressive 8.9 yards per attempt. He was also a brilliant runner, taking 62 attempts for 354 yards and two touchdowns. Luck has all the ability and the supporting cast to put up huge numbers in 2010, and he should be one of the highest picks in Pac-10-only leagues. He will warrant a significant selection in all other formats, as well.
25. Dan Persa, Northwestern
Persa is anything but developed as a passer, but his running ability might even exceed that of last year's starter, Mike Kafka. While Persa's fantasy production as a whole shouldn't be expected to be on Kafka's level, you can't underestimate the value of those rushing yards. Northwestern doesn't have much of a running game to lean on, so Persa might have to carry the offense this year, which makes him an intriguing quarterback option in the Big Ten after Pryor is off the board. There's high upside here, so Persa is someone to watch in most formats.
26. Zac Dysert, Miami (OH)
Dysert had a rough going in his freshman year, throwing 16 interceptions to 12 touchdowns and being generally inconsistent. He did show running ability as he ran for 262 yards and five touchdowns, and he has the physical talent to be much better as a sophmore in 2010. He could wind up one of the best quarterback options in the MAC.
27. Nathan Enderle, Idaho
Enderle had a superb junior year in 2009, hitting 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,906 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He averaged 9.3 yards per attempt and is poised to become one of the nation's best fantasy quarterbacks.
28. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Jones threw an undesirable 14 interceptions in 2009, but his numbers are at least pretty good when you consider that he was a freshman who wasn't supposed to play at all last year. He completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns, as well, so there was a lot to like about what he did. He should certainly be one of the nation's more productive quarterbacks in 2010, but he probably won't be in the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks quite yet. He's definitely worth a relatively high pick in Big 12-only and major conference leagues.
29. Christian Ponder, Florida State
Despite missing FSU's final four games last season with a shoulder injury, Ponder still managed 2,717 yards passing and 14 touchdowns for the Seminoles. Clearly the leader of the first non-Bobby Bowden team in Tallahassee in decades, the senior is poised for a superb finish to his Florida State career, including getting back to his multi-faceted game that he brings to the field. In other words, Ponder should run more than he did in 2009, further adding to his stat line. He'll have trouble outdoing Russell Wilson of N.C. State, but he'll still be in the hunt for the distinction of the best fantasy quarterback in the ACC.
30. Trevor Vittatoe, UTEP
Vittatoe didn't perform well in 2009, throwing just 13 interceptions and just 17 touchdowns despite throwing 33 touchdowns and just nine interceptions in 2008. Because Vittatoe is in a high-flying offense with one of the nation's best running backs stealing all the attention from the defense, Vittatoe is a good bet to bounce back in 2010. If no one else in your league remembers how good he was in 2008, you could get him as a steal later than he ought to go. He could be valuable in all league types.
31. Cameron Newton, Auburn
Newton is a Florida transfer who figures to be a big deal at Auburn starting this year. It's hard to see him matching the passing efficiency of Chris Todd from last year, but Newton was coveted for more than his running ability, and he holds a great deal of passing potential himself. But it's Newton's running ability that will make him an instant impact and worth a gamble pick in SEC-only leagues. Keep an eye on him in all formats.
32. Sean Renfree, Duke
Renfree is a former four-star recruit who saw a bit of work as a freshman in 2009. He did well for himself, completing 68 percent of his passes for 330 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. The player who started ahead of him last year, Thaddeus Lewis, threw for 3,330 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but Renfree is probably more naturally talented as a passer than Lewis was. Renfree inherits one of the best receiver groups in the nation, headlined by junior Donovan Varner, who caught 65 passes for 1,047 yards and eight touchdowns last year.
33. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State
Lindley has the potential to put up big numbers with Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson to throw to, but he needs to commit fewer turnovers. He was only a sophomore in 2009, but he threw 16 interceptions. He also could stand to improve on his seven yards per pass attempt total. Still, he threw 23 touchdowns and should be at least a bit better this year. He should be a high pick in MWC-only leagues and deserves consideration outside of them, as well.
34. Jordan Jefferson, LSU
Jefferson played well in 2009, but a series of poor off-season practices has LSU fans concerned about the 6-5 signal-caller's future in Baton Rouge. Last season Jefferson completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,166 yards and 17 touchdowns while throwing only seven interceptions, but struggled against good teams. Jefferson has the potential and work ethic to overcome a shaky off-season and improve his performance in big games, and he will certainly be expected to for a program that aims for the BCS every season.
35. Austen Arnaud, Iowa State
Arnaud regressed as a passer last year, throwing 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while averaging under seven yards per attempt. But he's still an excellent running threat, and he's a good bet to bounce back as a passer this year. He's worth a look as a backup in Big 12-only leagues and is a sneaky play when Iowa State takes on bad defenses.
36. Ben Chappell, Indiana
Chappell had a solid year last season, his first as a starter, completing 63 percent of his passes for 2,941 yards and 17 touchdowns. With good size and a solid arm, he is capable of making solid plays down the field. However, he is not very mobile, and is susceptible to turnovers, with 15 interceptions last season including eight in his final four games. He has the ability to make things happen, and is primed for a solid season.
37. Kevin Prince, UCLA
Prince didn't play particularly well as a freshman last year and his job isn't completely safe from Richard Brehaut, but he did gain a lot of valuable experience and should improve in 2010. He has a very good supporting cast and will have every opportunity to be a useful quarterback option in the Pac-10. Until he proves himself, though, you should leave yourself with other options.
38. David Isabelle, UAB
Isabelle has the impossible task of replacing the incredibly productive Joe Webb, but he should prove to be useful for fantasy owners in 2010. The sophomore ran for 288 yards and one touchdown on just 32 attempts in limited time last year, but averaged just 2.8 yards per pass attempt. He has the ability to instantly produce big-time rushing numbers, though, so he's a good quarterback option in CUSA-only leagues in particular. He's the sort of guy who could put up monstrous rushing totals against weak defenses and could give you a sneaky win or two this year.
39. Garrett Gilbert, Texas
Gilbert got off to a rough start in the National Championship game against a crushing Alabama defense, but the sailing should be much smoother from this point. Texas has a history of making its quarterbacks productive early on in their careers, and Gilbert has the ability to continue that tradition. Don't expect Colt McCoy-like numbers right away, but expect Gilbert to keep the Texas offense among the nation's best.
40. Tyler Bass, Memphis
Bass is an injury prone player, but he has very high upside when he can stay on the field. He was a big recruit for Memphis and he showed why in the four games he played as a sophomore last year, completing 65.4 percent of his passes for six touchdowns and four interceptions while averaging 8.3 yards per attempt. He also had 180 yards and a touchdown on the ground while averaging 4.29 yards per rush. He doesn't have his top two wideouts from last year, Duke Calhoun and Carlos Singleton, but he has some decent options returning and could have a big year if he stays healthy. He's a risky pick in any format due to his durability issues, but he's a high-upside selection, as well.