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College Fantasy Football Sleepers - Top 10 Quarterback Impact Transfers

Spencer Rattler, College Football Transfers

The transfer portal had 2,069 entrants for the 2022 season, which was nearly a 25 percent increase from 2021. It wasn't just the quantity, it was the quality as well. Six former five-star quarterbacks entered the portal this season. Nearly 20% of all FBS players have entered the transfer portal at some time in the last 12 months. College football free agency is much wackier than the NFL will ever be.

We will start my college football season by taking a look at the transfers who will make an immediate impact at their new schools for both our fantasy and DFS lineups from day one. There were so many skill players that I decided to break it down by position to celebrate the sheer number of talented players on the move.

156 quarterbacks joined the transfer portal at some time in the last year with 144 of them finding homes. Here is the ten that should make the most impact for fantasy leagues and in DFS. Some are already being hyped as Heisman contenders. Here are the signal-callers that changed schools who will have the largest impact on the 2022 college football season.

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10. Cameron Ward, Washington State (from Incarnate Word)

Ward threw for 4,648 yards and a staggering 47 touchdowns for Incarnate Word last year, who managed to poach FBS Texas State in San Marcos last September. There are a lot of unknowns with Ward coming from a steep uptick in competition and all of the drama surrounding Washington State last year after coach Nick Rolovich was fired for not taking the COVID vaccine (he is now filing a wrongful termination suit against the University).

Jayden de Laura fled to Tucson, leaving room for new offensive coordinator Eric Morris to bring in Ward, whom he coached at UIW last season. The teammates and opponents may be different, but something can be said for knowing the playbook and having success with it last season. There's a lot of potential here for Ward.

 

9. Kedon Slovis, Pitt (from USC)

You remember Slovis, right? He was replaced by Jaxson Dart (who also fled Southern California) after an injury last November. Slovis racked up 2,153 yards and 11 touchdowns in parts of nine games. Those aren't great numbers, but we have to remember that his numbers (and USC's as a whole) flatlined after Drake London went down.

Slovis finds himself on a Panthers team that lost all-world WR Jordan Addison to his former school and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple to Nebraska. That's not to say that Pitt doesn't have talent – they certainly do, most notably with RB Israel Abanikanda and WR Jared Wayne, not to mention a superb defense. I would have Slovis higher on this list if Whipple were still around, but as it stands now, he's still in a really good situation. Nick Patti didn't do enough last year in the bowl game to unseat Slovis.

 

8. Casey Thompson, Nebraska (from Texas)

I think Casey is trying to give his father Charles a heart attack. Charles, a former quarterback at Oklahoma, had to see his son commit to arch-rival Texas. Now the younger Thompson transfers to Nebraska, which may have been Oklahoma's chief rival when Charles was running the wishbone in Norman.

Kidding aside, this is a great spot for Thompson to land. Nebraska fired Matt Lubick at the end of last season even though they knew it would likely spell the end for Adrian Martinez in Lincoln as well. They were able to secure Mark Whipple from Pitt who turned Kenny Pickett from a mistake-prone game manager into a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft.

That was enough to get Thompson to Lincoln. Nebraska has plenty of talent at running back, but WR could be a bit of a question mark. New Mexico State transfer Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda is the most experienced in the receiver room, but Thompson is good enough to elevate this team like he did Texas last year. The tutelage of Mark Whipple could make Thompson into a top-25 quarterback this season.

 

7. Michael Penix, Washington (from Indiana)

We all remember the iconic shot of Penix reaching for the pylon on a two-point conversion in double overtime to lead Indiana to one of the biggest wins in program history at Beaver Stadium in October of 2020. Why haven't we heard much from him since? Inconsistency at the beginning of 2021 and a shoulder injury (against Penn State, by the way) took away the rest of his 2021 season. It was a huge disappointment, and he's heading to a school that has had a lot of them this century.

Gone are the glory days brought on by Mark Brunell and the Huard brothers. Marques Tuiasosopo, Cody Pickett, Isaiah Stanback, Jake Locker, Keith Price, Jake Browning, Jacob Eason...it's a long list of quarterbacks that just didn't live up to the hype. There are various reasons for this, but it all equals Washington not even being the best team in its own state anymore.

Penix is used to the hype. There was a lot of it with the Hoosiers finishing in the top ten of college football for the first time in nearly 60 years in 2020. He fell flat in 2021. Can Penix be the phoenix that rises from the ashes and brings the Huskies with him? I don't know, but it's going to be fun to watch. The huge rushing upside makes Penix worth a look here.

 

6. Jayden de Laura, Arizona (from Washington State)

Two losses early last season sunk the Cougars, but we can't just blame de Laura for that. He had a solid season in Pullman, including a four-touchdown game against...Arizona. How's that for an audition? Changes made to the coaching staff at Wazzu prompted de Laura to head south into what most consider a really bad situation.

Arizona only won one game last year (against a COVID-slaughtered Cal team) and lost to FCS Northern Arizona. It was a rebuild for the Wildcats, but a guy like de Laura speeds that up considerably. There are still some playmakers left in Tucson and stability at quarterback will go a long way towards helping this team reach its potential. The won-loss record may be ugly, but I think the stats for de Laura will make him worthy of using in several situations this year.

 

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5. Jaxson Dart, Mississippi (from USC)

Dart departed Southern Cal at about the same time Lincoln Riley's plane landed. Ole Miss has to figure out a way not only to replace Matt Corral, who led them to heights not seen in generations but offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby as well. Lane Kiffin is expected to call plays this year, which should be fine for Dart. He's the guy that entered the Washington State game after Slovis went down and proceeded to set a USC record for most yards in a debut in a 42-14 rout of the Cougars in Pullman.

Dart threw for 1,353 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions last year. Those aren't great numbers, but he is heading into a great situation. Kiffin has churned out some really good quarterbacks and Dart has the tools to be the next one.

 

4. Spencer Rattler, South Carolina (from Oklahoma)

Remember Rattler? He disappeared after being replaced by Caleb Williams in the Texas game. It's easy to forget that Rattler led the Sooners to a Big 12(10) title in 2020, throwing for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions (not to mention a rout of a gutted Florida team in the Cotton Bowl).

A new start could be just what Rattler needs. The Gamecocks cycled through three different starting quarterbacks last year and none of them were very effective. Some of Rattler's weapons at Oklahoma contributed to his success, but this isn't a South Carolina team devoid of talent. Rattler was one of the best Oklahoma QB recruits of the Bob Stoops era. You know the talent is there.

 

3. Adrian Martinez, Kansas State (from Nebraska)

Martinez burst on the scene with an excellent freshman season in which he threw for 2,617 yards and ran for 629 more with eight touchdowns. Then the Nebraska coaching staff happened to him. Martinez was a staunch supporter of Matt Lubick even though most of the fans (and some within the program) thought Lubick was holding him back. When the Huskers fired Lubick, it was a foregone conclusion that Martinez was going somewhere else. The only surprise was that he stayed in the Midwest despite being a California native.

The transfer portal has done a lot of things, but it also enables college students to not be forced into long-distance relationships. Martinez's girlfriend plays volleyball at Kansas State, so this makes sense. Not only that, but Martinez is going into the perfect situation for him.

Nebraska often insisted that he not run and stay in the pocket. Some of this was to prevent injury since the cupboard was rather bare behind Martinez. Some of it was because of ball security issues. Whatever the reason, it won't be an issue this year. Kansas State is and has always been a run-first team. They love their running quarterbacks (a former one – Collin Klein – will be Martinez's offensive coordinator this year) and they'll let Martinez take off whenever he damn well pleases. He and Deuce Vaughn are going to be thorns in a lot of Big 12 (10) defenses this year.

 

2. Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma (from Central Florida)

Gabriel was off to a fast start last year before suffering a broken clavicle on the last play of the game against Louisville. Mikey Keene played well enough to keep the job, but what prompted Gabriel to head to Norman was the hiring of Jeff Lebby. Gabriel had a superb freshman season under Lebby at UCF in 2019, throwing for 3,653 yards and 29 touchdowns.

We saw what Lebby was able to do with Matt Corral last year at Ole Miss. Sooners fans have high hopes that the high-flying offense will return after stalling out several times last season under Lincoln Riley and the rest of the coaching staff. Gabriel directed a successful and high-powered offense at UCF for 8,037 yards and 70 touchdowns in a little over two seasons. This marks the most talent he has ever had around him and he's already familiar with the offense. No wonder he's showing up on preseason Heisman lists.

 

1. Caleb Williams, USC (from Oklahoma)

It was rumored immediately after Lincoln Riley slunk out of Norman that Williams would follow. It took a while for that to come to fruition, but it made sense. Williams always wanted to play for Riley. Now that players can follow their favorite coaches right away, most do. I went back and forth on putting Williams at the top of the list. I've watched enough football to know that he has his shortcomings.

This is college, people. All quarterbacks do. I put Williams at the top because USC, once again, is freaking LOADED at the skill positions. Even with Drake London now in the NFL, this roster is still littered with 4 and 5-star recruits, including Williams himself. The Trojans open with an awful Rice team and really won't be tested until the middle of October when they head to Salt Lake City. Williams is going to be part of many optimal DFS lineups early in the season.

Honorable Mention: JT Daniels, West Virginia (from Georgia; USC); Quinn Ewers, Texas (from Ohio State); Bo Nix, Oregon (from Auburn); Jayden Daniels, LSU (from Arizona State); Emory Jones, Arizona State (from Florida); John Rhys Plumlee, Central Florida (from Mississippi); Connor Bazelak, Indiana (from Missouri)



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