Despite I would like, college fantasy football just hasn't quite taken off as much as logic would suggest that it should, but regardless, for the third-straight year, Pacific Takes is putting on a Pac-12 fantasy football league (Note: We still have one spot left, email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want it). Knowing that there are still college fantasy football fans out there, here are my rankings for the Top 15 Pac-12 fantasy football players for 2014.
Obviously, with one of the best quarterback classes in conference history and a weak year for running backs, quarterback is what it is all about.
1. Marcus Mariota Jr. QB Oregon
Mariota was the top point scorer in 2013 and possibly in 2012, but I'm not completely sure. Regardless, he is the perfect fantasy football player as a quarterback that racks up yards, throws endless touchdowns with almost no interceptions and runs for as many yards and touchdowns as an all-conference running back. I don't see any way that he isn't the first Pac-12 player off the board in any college fantasy football draft.
2. Brett Hundley Jr. QB UCLA
Hundley is very similar to Mariota from a fantasy perspective, but just drop all of the good stats a touch and raise the interceptions a bit. I think he has been a bit overvalued as a player (and a fantasy player) during his career, but with his playmakers maturing around him at UCLA, I think this will be the year that he puts it all together, boosts his good passing numbers and lowers his interceptions.
3. Taylor Kelly Sr. QB Arizona State
Kelly has been a smart player's choice the past couple of seasons as a dual-threat quarterback who doesn't get the hype of Hundley and Mariota, but produces just as much. The cat is out of the bag on Kelly though going into his senior season, still you can probably get him at a bargain with the third or fourth pick in Pac-12 drafts as the best option if you can't snag Hundley or Mariota and don't be surprised if he ends up being just as valuable as them.
4. Sean Mannion Sr. QB Oregon State
Mannion simply fills up the passing stat sheet, but the fact that he won't give you any points on the ground keeps him behind the Hundley/Mariota/Kelly pack. Still, he is an unbelievable fantasy player to be ranked as the fourth quarterback in the conference as he will assuredly pass for a huge amount of yards and touchdowns. If you can get Mannion as your quarterback, you will do fine.
5. Connor Halliday Sr. QB Washington State
Speaking of prolific passers that are a steal, Halliday is a fantasy monster in Mike Leach's system and is guaranteed to put up a mind-numbing amount of passing yards and touchdowns. The only drawback about Halliday is that he also throws a good amount of interceptions. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Halliday does what Mannion did last year and gets control of his interceptions, making him a dream fantasy quarterback.
6. Cody Kessler Jr. QB USC
There is a big chasm between Halliday and Kessler here as you run out of proven stars at quarterback after five, but Kessler is a potential breakout star who should be a great choice if you aren't lucky enough to get one of the coveted top five. He started to come into his own towards the end of 2013 and while he probably isn't a Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart, he will be surrounded by enough talent at USC that it will be easy for him to score a lot of fantasy points without having to be a star.
7. Jared Goff So. QB Cal
Goff is a lot like a Mannion or Halliday that doesn't throw enough touchdowns. That should start to turn around though as he matures as a passer, Cal's young receivers continue to develop and if his offensive line can stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, he is a player that is sure to put up enough passing yardage to score a good amount of points every week, but his team is such a mess that I don't see him getting into that upper crust of Pac-12 quarterbacks.
8. Byron Marshall Jr. RB Oregon
The first non-quarterback, don't sleep on Marshall just because he is down here, it is just that quarterbacks are more valuable in most college fantasy leagues and the Pac-12 has a ridiculously stacked quarterback class this season. As most starting running backs in recent history for the Ducks, Marshall is a scoring machine guaranteed to run for more than 1,000 yards and score a ton of touchdowns, especially since he has the bulk to finish off drives at the goal line. He is the first player I would grab once the top quarterbacks are off the board.
9. Ty Montgomery Sr. WR Stanford
Depending on how your league scores special teams, Montgomery could be even higher, but regardless, he is the best receiver option in the Pac-12. He is the conference's leading returner in receiving and should only put up more with Stanford breaking in a new offensive line and running back along with hoping that Kevin Hogan can progress into a better passing quarterback.
10. Javorious Allen Jr. RB USC
Allen is the most proven of USC's deadly trio of backs and is expected to be the feature of the group, so scoop up him up quickly if you can. He is a proven asset running the ball, but Allen's receiving ability boosts his fantasy stock and with the Trojans lacking proven receivers, expect him to catch a lot of passes in 2014.
11. Jaelen Strong Jr. WR Arizona State
Strong will be the first Pac-12 receiver off the board in a lot of drafts as a rangy speedster that is Taylor Kelly's go-to guy, especially with Chris Coyle graduated. With his combo of speed and length, he is the perfect kind of receiver that can make the big play down field and get yardage points and also get jump ball touchdowns as a big receiver at 6'4.
12. D.J. Foster Jr. RB Arizona State
Foster has been a great number two or three fantasy back thus far in his career, but I expect him to have a major breakout season this year with Marion Grice gone. He is an explosive athlete and the best pass-catching back in the conference, boosting his fantasy stock and now the Sun Devils' lone proven back, his fantasy production should only get higher in 2014.
13. Kevin Hogan Jr. QB Stanford
One of the biggest enigmas in recent Pac-12 history, Hogan has first round (fantasy draft & NFL Draft) potential but perpetually hovers around being a fantasy quarterback that you will only pick if the top guys are off of the board. I am keeping him in this territory, as a great quarterback to get if you can't get one of those first seven QBs, but Stanford's offense and his unreliability limit his fantasy stock. Don't completely discount him though, as he has the tools to be a top quarterback and should have a lot more production expected of him this season with a new offensive line and Tyler Gaffney gone.
14. Travis Wilson Jr. QB Utah
Wilson is down the line of that Mannion/Halliday gunslinger lineage of a guy who can put up a ton of yards and touchdowns, but also throws way too many interceptions. If he can finally stay healthy, he could take that step that Mannion did between his sophomore and junior years and keep his production up everywhere expect the interception department, but who knows if he can do either of those things. Going into the season, he is probably the last Pac-12 QB worthy of starting on a fantasy, and a player that is guaranteed to at least put up yardage and touchdown points.
15. Thomas Tyner So. RB Oregon
The number two back in the Ducks system is always a major fantasy player and with his world class speed, Tyner has the potential to be the best one there has ever been, teaming with Byron Marshall. He has the potential to be the best big play back in the conference and in a very weak class of fantasy running backs, I wouldn't completely be against taking him over any back other than Marshall.
On the edge
Sefo Liufau So. QB Colorado
Dres Anderson Sr. WR Utah
Nelson Agholor Jr. WR USC
Tre Madden Jr. RB USC
Jordon James Sr. RB UCLA