We hit on this topic last year, and it landed with a good deal of success. It is worth revisiting this year to assist with your best ball or redraft leagues. Handcuffs aren’t always necessary, but they do provide some insurance and reassurance when drafting in uncertain times prior to fall camps, which provide us answers. The Average Draft Position (ADP) used in this article is based on Campus2Canton.com CFF data at the time of this article.

DON’T DRAFT ONE WITHOUT DRAFTING THE OTHER

This is the rare group that is in a top-tier QB-producing system, but question marks surround the current situation. Some are murkier than others, but all warrant a handcuff to protect the investment. This is similar to Texas State and Alabama last year.

Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

USC: Miller Moss (QB21) and Jayden Maiava (QB79)

Moss was the clear favorite heading into the spring, but things look less concrete after a rough outing in the spring game. He continues to have the edge heading into the summer. However, Maiava looked more than capable in the spring game after a strong 2023 as a first-year starter at UNLV.

Now, clearly, a Lincoln Riley quarterback is worth the investment given his absurd resume of CFF producers at the position—Caleb Williams, Spencer Rattler, Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray, and Baker Mayfield. But could we see a quarterback change mid-season like we saw in 2021 with Rattler and Williams? USC has an incredibly difficult first half of the season that includes the likes of LSU (in Vegas), Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Penn State.

If you are willing to invest in Moss, who is currently going as the QB21 with an ADP near round 9, then you should hedge your bet by scooping up Maiava towards to end of your draft. Maiava can be had much later as the QB79 in the middle of round 28.

Image courtesy of Youtube

UNLV: Matt Sluka (QB55) and Hajj-Malik Williams (Undrafted)

The departure of Maiava left a void in the QB room for the Go-Go Offense. Brennan Marion, after being courted by many other programs, is back with one of the most talented rosters in the G5 when it comes to skill positions. Whoever wins this job will have a lot of strong options to work with in 2024, including star WR Ricky White.

Sluka was a prolific dual-threat option for Holy Cross for the last couple of years. Don’t be fooled by his current ADP of QB55 taken on average in round 21. Sluka has a cult-like following and often goes much earlier than his ADP indicates. Understandably, many are interested in his upside, given Marion’s propensity to highlight QB athleticism.

However, Sluka wasn’t enrolled at UNLV in the spring and Williams, who transferred in from Campbell, put on an absolute show in the spring game. He was a multi-year starter in the FCS, and while he doesn’t possess the rushing upside of Sluka, he isn’t a statue either. Williams is currently going undrafted, which seems a bit haphazard on the part of the Sluka fanboys, who are willing to invest in him earlier than his ADP.

Image courtesy of the Daily Evergreen

Washington State: John Mateer (QB57) and Zevi Eckhaus (QB63)

While his resume isn’t as extensive as Lincoln Riley’s, Ben Arbuckle has taken a backseat to no one when it comes to CFF producers over the last three seasons. He recently was the OC for Cam Ward in his breakout 2023, the OC for Austin Reed in his breakout 2022, and had a hand in the epic 2021 season from Bailey Zappe. Arbuckle appears to be one of the sharpest young offensive minds in the game.

Mateer is the incumbent who worked under Arbuckle in 2023 with a specialized package, while Eckhaus is the challenger transferring in from Bryant. Mateer did appear to get slightly more snaps with the 1s in spring practice reports and got the first reps with the starters in the spring game, but all indications are this battle remains very close.

Despite the razor thin gap and Eckhaus (19-30, 196, 2 TD) actually outplaying Mateer (11-24, 194, 2 TD) in the spring game, these two seem to be trending in opposite directions in ADP. Mateer has been climbing up draft boards recently and has been going in the early teens of bestball drafts I have been a part of. Conversely, Eckhaus continues to slide in drafts and often goes undrafted. Handcuff the Arbuckle duo!

JUST IN CASE S*** HAPPENS

Here are some “tin foil hat” options that you can consider in your drafts. These are very unlikely to be needed, but college football never fails to give us unhinged results. Some of us deranged handcuffers were happy we took Austin Reed with Jarret Doege in 2022, and Caleb Williams with Spencer Rattler in 2021.

Texas: Quinn Ewers (QB28) and Arch Manning (QB88)

Clearly, Ewers is going to be the starter in Week 1, but we have seen him struggle at times before. Sark could succumb to the pressure to play Manning if Texas has a couple of losses prior to Vandy and their second bye week. The rumblings have only grown louder after Arch’s incredible spring game performance.

Houston: Donovan Smith (QB38) and Zeon Chriss (QB78)

Smith, understandably, doesn’t demand that much draft capital after the coaching change and a shoulder injury keeping him out all spring. Amazingly, some draft projectors have him solidly in round one for the NFL draft. But, Chriss was handpicked by the new staff and has konami code upside with his legs should he secure the job.

Wester Kentucky: TJ Finley (QB42) and Caden Veltkamp (QB67)

Finley looks to have the edge in the WKU offense that was once considered a league winner at QB and WR. The talk post-spring has led to a climb in his ADP from round 17 on average to round 13. How soon we forget that Veltkamp came off the bench in the bowl game to pass for 383 yards and 5 TDs and combine for 71 rushing and passing attempts in that comeback win. Someone may be the sacrificial lamb that gets thrown to the Alabama wolves in week one, then it’s anyone’s guess who we see the rest of the way.

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