Last Updated: Jan 21, 2011 1:03 PM
The long, cold winter has definitely settled in here at CFG headquarters. 23 degrees. Snow drifts. Continually lacing up the ol' Sorel Caribous. Undaunted by the fact that we haven't seen the sun in about 26 days, we press on with a watchful eye on the 2011 college fantasy football season.
Now that the underclassmen have declared their intentions, we have a pretty good sense for the talent pool returning. So we put together what we affectionately call our "Way Too Early" 2011 player rankings.
Please understand there's a reason we're calling them "Way Too Early" rankings. It's just a first glance at the 2011 prospects. A gut feel. We haven't fully analyzed returning o-lineman for each school. We haven't yet plugged in the incoming stud recruits (signing day is February 2nd). We didn't account for all of the new coaching changes. And we haven't taken a peek at the upcoming fall schedules. All of that will come with due time.
We'll release one article per position per day, then eventually transfer all of the data over to our Big Board. Here's the schedule:
Friday, January 21 - Quarterbacks
Monday, January 24 - Running Backs
Tuesday, January 25 - Wide Receivers
Wednesday, January 26 - Tight Ends & Kickers
We're going to pass on defensive rankings until later this spring. So, without further ado, let's dive into the quarterbacks!
"Way Too Early" 2011 Quarterback Rankings
For the first time in a while, there probably isn't a true consensus preseason No. 1 college fantasy QB (as we sit here in January). Houston's Case Keenum is clinging onto our top spot for the moment, but he's coming off an ACL injury -- a worrisome trait for someone residing in our poll position.
If you're a glass half-empty kind of guy, there are holes to punch in the fantasy prospects of both Tulsa's G.J. Kinne and East Carolina's Dominique Davis. Kinne's head coach jumped ship for Pitt, while Dom lost his leading receiver as well as four offensive linemen.
Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are both surprisingly back in the fold in Stillwater. But the guy who masterminded their dramatic offensive rise in 2010 - offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen - left for Morgantown. As of this writing, head coach Mike Gundy has yet to name a new OC, although it is widely assumed they are going to try to keep the same offensive system in place. Easier said than done.
Hawaii gunslinger Bryant Moniz loses just about everyone around him -- 8 offensive starters including WR Greg Salas, WR Kealoha Pilares, and RB Alex Green. Can the Rainbow Warriors slap together a decent o-line and find a fresh new set of receivers in time for September?
NC State's Russell Wilson will spend another off-season figuring out whether he will take to the diamond or remain on the gridiron. Something tells me he might opt for baseball this time around.
Since Michigan dumped RichRod, Denard Robinson becomes a tough guy to rank. If new head coach Brady Hoke decides to keep Shoelace in a similar offensive system, he'll shoot up our rankings. If there is any uncertainty, well then, D-Rob becomes a risky proposition. Spring should be very interesting in Ann Arbor.
Other QB questions to chew on:
* Can Northwestern's Dan Persa return from a late season Achilles tendon injury?
* What will the Boise State passing game look like without star wideouts Austin Pettis and Titus Young?
* Can BYU's Jake Heaps build upon his monster bowl game to become a viable fantasy QB?
* Will Seth Doege win the Texas Tech starting gig?
* What new twists and turns will we find in the Taylor Martinez soap opera? If you could guarantee us that he would be healthy and controversy-free in 2011, we'd rank T-Magic much higher than where he currently sits.
* Who will Western Michigan's Alex Carder throw the ball to this fall? Trusty wideouts Juan Nunez and Jordan White are no more in Kalamazoo (there is a chance White gets a 6th year of eligibility). Ditto for San Diego State's Ryan Lindley.
* Will Year Two of the Sonny Dykes Project at La Tech go smoother than last year's disaster? We expected fireworks and were treated to a fizzled out sparkler instead.
* With Blaine Gabbert off to greener pastures, will newbie James Franklin be able to step in and produce right away at Mizzou? His supporting cast is outstanding.
* Can new OC Dana Holgorsen transform West Virginia's Geno Smith into a fantasy stud?
* Will senior-to-be Tyler Lantrip be able to even remotely resemble Colin Kaepernick in Reno? Or will hot-shot youngster Cody Fajardo get a few reps in Coach Ault's Pistol offense?
* Who wins the quarterback battle in South Bend this spring? It should be fun watching Tommy Rees and Dayne Crist duke it out.
* Can Georgia-transfer Zach Mettenberger steal the LSU starting job out from under incumbent Jordan Jefferson?
Whew! There's certainly a lot to ponder as we head into the spring. Here's how we stack up the signal callers for the time being...
CollegeFootballGeek.com's "Way Too Early" 2011 Quarterback Rankings
Agree with our rankings? Think we're completely off-base? Give us your feedback in the CFG Forums.