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Position Rankings: 2014 Quarterbacks

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Arvydas Sabonis.

1. Marcus Mariota, JR., Oregon

Mariota followed his brilliant 2012 debut with an even better 2013, throwing for nearly 1,000 more yards while averaging 1.5 more yards per pass. The result was 3,665 passing yards and 31 touchdowns with 715 rushing yards (7.5 YPC) and nine scores. And he did it despite playing through an MCL sprain in the last six games. Although the loss of top wideouts Josh Huff (NFL) and Bralon Addison (knee) are a concern, Mariota has a deep group of TEs and returns his entire offensive line. He could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, giving both Mariota and Oregon reason to run up the stats.

2. Bryce Petty, SR., Baylor

Petty was arguably the nation's most efficient QB last year, pairing 4,200 yards passing (10.4 YPA) with a 32:3 TD:INT ratio. Like all recent Baylor QBs, Petty also offered rushing production, adding 209 yards and 14 touchdowns. With at least 300 yards and two touchdowns passing in 10 games and at least one rushing score in 10 games last year, Petty consistently carried fantasy squads. Baylor's offensive scheme is highly profitable, and Petty will have an elite group of WRs again. The only drawback is Baylor has three byes.

3. Brett Hundley, JR., UCLA

Entering his third year as starter, Hundley is one of the nation's elite dual-threat QBs. Averaging 3,405 yards and 27 touchdowns passing and 550 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing the last two years, he is a weekly threat to post at least 30 fantasy points in standard leagues. He saw a significant decline in attempts last season, but he should see his attempts increase this year as UCLA tries to inflate his NFL draft stock. With four top-shelf WRs and two strong pass-catching RBs, Hundley will have a variety of useful targets this season.

4. Braxton Miller, SR., Ohio State

If Miller was guaranteed to play a full season he might rank as the top fantasy QB. Last season, he threw for 2,094 yards (8.2 YPA) and 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,068 yards (6.3 YPC) and 12 touchdowns, averaging 32.7 fantasy points per game. But he missed nearly three games due to a knee injury, and he underwent a minor throwing shoulder surgery last winter. When he's on the field, though, Miller is an elite fantasy player.

5. Taysom Hill, JR., BYU

Durability is a concern because Hill takes a lot of hits as a running QB in an uptempo offense, but his weekly potential is significant. He was healthy for all 2013, and fantasy owners who gambled on him reaped huge rewards. Although he's not a good passer (19 TD, 14 INT in 2013), Hill produces at an elite level as a runner, finishing last season with 1,344 yards (5.5 YPC) and 10 touchdowns. He returns his entire offensive line this year and has strong wideouts in Jordan Leslie and Mitch Mathews.

6. Nick Marshall, SR., Auburn

Defenses couldn't account for all of Auburn's rushing threats last season, and the speedy Marshall was a big reason why. Marshall started slowly in new coach Gus Malzahn's offense, but he soon proved a perfect fit for the deceptive, run-heavy scheme. He ran for 780 yards (6.7 YPC) and 10 touchdowns in the final eight weeks, throwing for 10 more scores. At 6-1, 210, Marshall is a bit of a durability worry, though, after dealing with knee and shoulder injuries last year.

7. Dak Prescott, JR., Mississippi State

Prescott isn't widely known outside Mississippi, but that should change quickly. He's the ideal fit for the Bulldogs' run-heavy spread scheme with impressive running and passing skills. Prescott threw for modest numbers in 2013 as he split time with the now departed Tyler Russell, posting just 1,940 yards (7.3 YPA) and 10 touchdowns. But he added 829 yards (6.2 YPC) and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Prescott could post huge rushing numbers as the full-time starter this year, and at 6-2, 230, he's built to withstand the hits that come with the job.

8. Keenan Reynolds, JR., Navy

Reynolds proved nearly unstoppable as a runner in Navy's option offense last season. Although he threw for only 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns, Reynolds rushed for 1,346 yards (4.5 YPC) and 31 touchdowns. With his entire offensive line returning this year, Reynolds should once again post big numbers on the ground. Navy has four bye weeks, though, and he's an injury risk at 5-11, 185.

9. Shane Carden, SR., East Carolina

Carden has been an elite fantasy QB in East Carolina's Air Raid offense the last two years, averaging 3,627 yards and 28 touchdowns passing and nine rushing touchdowns. East Carolina attempts more than 40 passes per game, and Carden does a great job of supplementing that with rushing scores. He also has a deep and talented group of receivers, highlighted by Justin Hardy (114 catches in 2013). Carden's fantasy stock is hurt by his schedule, though – he has three byes and plays South Carolina, Virginia Tech and North Carolina in consecutive weeks starting Week 2.

10. Cody Fajardo, SR., Nevada

After he scored 32 touchdowns (20 passing, 12 rushing) in 2012, Fajardo's 21-touchdown 2013 did not provide a good return on investment. This year, though, he could be a fantasy bargain as he is likely to bounce back. He's one of the nation's best dual-threats, averaging nearly 30 fantasy points per game in standard leagues the last two years. Durability is a concern after he missed two games last year with a knee injury and had back and ankle injuries in previous years.

11. Matt Johnson, JR., Bowling Green

Johnson took Bowling Green to the next level last year, throwing for 3,467 yards (9.4 YPA) and 25 touchdowns and adding 238 yards and five scores on the ground. He could be even more productive this season in the high-tempo, pass-heavy scheme of new head coach Dino Babers (Eastern Illinois). Johnson has the support of a strong running game and a balanced WR rotation featuring a shifty big-play threat in Ronnie Moore as well as 6-3 red-zone threats Gehrig Dieter and Chris Gallon.

12. Jameis Winston, SO., Florida State

In his first year as starter, Winston led Florida State to the national championship and won the Heisman Trophy, passing for 4,057 yards (10.6 YPA) and 40 touchdowns. He showed a bit of running ability, too, adding 219 yards and four touchdowns. It's reasonable to expect some regression, if only because last year's numbers were so improbable, but few QBs have such a high floor. Florida State returns No. 1 WR Rashad Greene and all but one of its starting offensive linemen.

13. Davis Webb, SO., Texas Tech

Big QB production was guaranteed in the Kliff Kingsbury offense, but which QB would reap the reward was unknown this time last year. There's no mystery this season. Baker Mayfield, who shared the job last year with Webb, transferred to Oklahoma, leaving Webb without competition for snaps. Webb could post big numbers this season, considering the Red Raiders averaged 392.8 yards and 2.7 passing touchdowns per game last season with two true freshmen throwing nearly every pass . The only concern is the loss of leading receiver TE Jace Amaro to the NFL, but Tech returns a wealth of speedy playmakers and four-fifths of its offensive line.

14. Devin Gardner, SR., Michigan

Gardner received a lot of criticism last year as the most visible player in a Michigan offense that badly underachieved. Playcaller Al Borges, the cause of Gardner's struggles, was replaced by Doug Nussmeier, whose offense should scale back Gardner's burdens while increasing his efficiency. Despite his perceived struggles last year, Gardner threw for 2,960 yards (8.6 YPA) and 21 touchdowns while running for 483 yards and 11 more scores, making him one of the nation's elite dual threats. Gardner should make up for a decrease workload with improved efficiency as a passer and runner.

15. Taylor Kelly, SR., Arizona State

A dual-threat QB in a talented, up-tempo offense, Kelly could break out in 2014. He'll need more consistency, though, after imploding in the second half last season. After throwing for 2,511 yards and 23 touchdowns in his first eight games, he totaled just five passing touchdowns in the final six games. A third-year starter, the senior has one of the nation's top WRs in Jaelen Strong and a similarly top-shelf receiving threat at running back in D.J. Foster.

16. Rakeem Cato, SR., Marshall

Cato heads into his fourth year as starter coming off consecutive seasons of at least 3,900 yards and 37 touchdowns. He added a new dimension last year, emerging as a rushing threat with 294 yards and six touchdowns. There is some concern for Cato's red-zone effectiveness this season since tight end/touchdown machine Gator Hoskins was lost to graduation after scoring 25 touchdowns the last two years, but lead receiver Tommy Shuler (106 catches in 2013) returns, as does three-fifths of Cato's offensive line.

17. Kenny Hill, SO., Texas A&M

There probably won't be another player like Johnny Manziel any time soon, but Hill just might do a decent impersonation this year. He looked promising in his brief audition as a true freshman in 2013 and is the favorite to start this season. Although the Aggies lost wideout Mike Evans and left tackle Jake Matthews to the NFL, they have elite talents Ricky Seals-Jones and Cedric Ogbuehi. As a dual-threat talent surrounded by good players in one of the nation's best offenses, Hill possesses considerable breakout potential.

18. Taylor Heinicke, SR., Old Dominion

If his first three years at Old Dominion are any indication, the relatively unknown Heinicke will quickly turn heads as Old Dominion joins Conference USA this season. In the FCS, Heinicke totaled 11,483 passing yards (8.4 YPA) and 102 touchdowns in 34 games, adding 1,181 yards (4.1YPC) and 20 touchdowns on the ground. Even with the jump to the higher level of competition, Heinicke should remain productive. He returns a deep and skilled group of receivers, and his only tough matchups are against North Carolina State and Vanderbilt.

19. Marquise Williams, JR., North Carolina

With Bryn Renner graduated, Williams will start this season for the Tar Heels. He has work to do as a passer, but he showed excellent upside as a dual-threat QB in a talented offense last year after Renner suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in early November. Williams ran for 441 yards and six touchdowns in the final seven weeks, adding 1,308 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air. That averages to roughly 25 fantasy points per game in standard leagues. He should improve as a passer with a pair of talented red-zone threats in the 6-4 duo of Quinshad Davis and Bug Williams, and Ryan Switzer is an elite threat after the catch.

20. Chuckie Keeton, SR., Utah State

If Keeton is healthy after a season-ending knee injury he suffered in October, he should easily prove a good draft-day value as an elite passer and rusher. After totaling nearly 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2012, he was on pace for 3,269 yards and 41 touchdowns passing and 538 yards and five touchdowns rushing before getting hurt last season. He has risk, though, both because of injury rust and because he lost his top two receivers and four-fifths of his offensive line.

21. C.J. Brown, SR., Maryland

Brown is capable of outproducing any QB when he has a favorable matchup. He has elite running skills, taking his last 219 carries for 1,150 yards (5.3 YPC) and 17 touchdowns, and improving passing skills. The passing game struggled last season against tougher defenses, as he threw for less than 200 yards four times. What's more, in six wins last season he totaled 21 touchdowns, while in five losses, he scored four times. He also missed two games to injuries. But with a strong group of receivers and top-notch running skills, Brown is an ace in the hole when he faces weak defenses.

22. Trevor Knight, SO., Oklahoma

If there was a “Jekyll and Hyde Award” for last season, Knight definitely would be a top candidate. He headed into Week 1 after surprisingly winning the starting job over the heavily favored Blake Bell, but he was downright pitiful as a passer. Well, pitiful in all but one game: Oklahoma's bowl game against Alabama. After throwing for just 471 yards (5.2 YPA), five touchdowns and four interceptions in the regular season, Knight inexplicably torched Alabama for 348 yards (7.9 YPA), four touchdowns and one interception. Whether good or bad Knight shows up this season is uncertain, but his rushing production (445 yards, two touchdowns on 67 carries) gives him upside if he gets his passing in order.

23. Jake Waters, SR., Kansas State

The heir to Collin Klein figured to be a huge fantasy asset in Kansas State's run-heavy offense last season, but Waters and Daniel Sams shared the job, leaving owners with an unreliable QB rotation. Sams transferred this offseason, though, which could make Waters a draft-day steal. The duo averaged 224.7 yards and 1.7 touchdowns passing per game and 86.1 yards and 1.3 touchdowns rushing per game last season. That's good for about 30 fantasy points a game in standard leagues.

24. P.J. Walker, SO., Temple

Walker began last season near the bottom of the depth chart behind Connor Reilly and Clinton Granger, but Walker was worlds better, becoming one of the nation's best young QBs. He threw for 2,084 yards (8.3 YPA) and 20 touchdowns while adding 332 yards and three touchdowns rushing. He dominated the final five weeks, passing for 1,486 (7.8 YPA) and 15 touchdowns while running for 233 yards and three touchdowns. This season, he will have to overcome the loss of top wideout Robbie Anderson, as well as three-fifths of his offensive line.

25. Brandon Connette, SR., Fresno State

Connette is a wild card. He transferred to Fresno State from Duke this offseason and could replace Derek Carr in Fresno State's high-tempo spread offense. If Connette can hold off Brian Burrell for the starting job, he could have top-10 upside. He was productive as a part-time player for Duke last year, showing big upside as a runner by totaling 337 yards and 14 touchdowns on 101 carries. He also threw for 1,212 yards (8.4 YPA) and 13 touchdowns. Connette might also be the team's best goal-line runner in an offense that plays in constant hurry-up.

26. Terrance Broadway, SR., LA-Lafayette
27. J.W. Walsh, JR., Oklahoma State
28. Grant Hedrick, SR., Boise State
29. Jaquez Johnson, SR., Florida Atlantic
30. Cyler Miles, SO., Washington

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