This early in the 2024 best ball draft season is a great time to take advantage of QB battles if you feel confident in the winner. There are three that not only feel like there is a clear favorite, but they’re also ones with major CFF impact as well as a major value in early best ball drafts. Let’s take a look!

Matthew Sluka vs. Hajj-Malik Williams – UNLV

Thanks to the recent conversation between Nicholas Ian Allen and Andrew Katz, I’ve been introduced to the idea that UNLV’s QB battle will have a huge impact on how the 2024 CFF season plays out. The Rebels are coming off an impressive 9-5 season where they came just short of a MWC title and looking to this season, there’s no reason for them not to compete for that title again.

Matthew Sluka Courtesy of Mark Selinger Photography/Holy Cross

Brennan Marion looks to have at least one more year with UNLV and has two great options to choose from when it comes to QB. Matthew Sluka transfers in from Holy Cross after throwing for just over 1,700 yards and rushing for another 1,243 and nine TDs. Hajj-Malik Williams comes from Campbell and has thrown for 2,000+ yards three times in his career to go with 590 rushing yards and ten rushing TDs in his past two seasons. Of course, this QB battle isn’t possible without the sacrifice Jayden Maiava made by transferring to USC. RIP. 

Both of these QBs have been a force at the FCS level and shouldn’t have a hard time replicating what Maiava and company did in 2023 (3,349 yards and 17 TDs through the air combined with 300+ yards and four TDs on the ground). They have an elite college WR in Ricky White, as well as Jacob De Jesus, a nice safety blanket in the slot.

At RB, they have a group of good, not great, RBs to help the offense move the ball on the ground. Looking at the CFB Winning Edge Returning Production Database, UNLV also returns what looks like four of their five starting OL from 2023, as well as two depth pieces that played a combined 484 snaps. 

Whoever does win this job has the pleasure of missing the Michigan types this season but instead play a MWC schedule mixed with Syracuse at home, at Kansas, at Houston and home against Utah Tech. None of these games scare me from a defensive matchup standpoint. 

Only eight returning QBs (non-military academy) ran for 640+ rushing yards in 2023, and of those eight QBs, I have six of them currently ranked in the top ten of my 2024 QB rankings. With everything that has been said above, if Sluka does win the job, how does he not end up in the top 15?

Ultimately, we’re mixing a talented offensive mind that loves to move the football and does it well with two QBs with a wealth of experience. Their skill sets are not NFL-worthy, but I believe Marion can easily mold the winner of this job into an elite CFF QB option.

Bert Emanuel Jr. vs. Himself – Central Michigan

Courtesy of 247Sports

What a battle this one is. Can Emanuel evolve as a passer and secure the starting spot under center for CMU? He’s shown to be a great runner with his big-time production in just four games (67/496/7), but he threw it just eight times. He did split time with Daniel Richardson his freshman season and was used more like a RB/Wildcat player, but my concern is he quickly was beat out by Jase Bauer in 2023. Bert completed just 52% of passes on 38 attempts, and CMU chose to roll with Bauer and his 57% completion rate instead. 

There are no returning players for CMU that threw a pass in 2023, so I really look at this as can Emanuel become even an adequate passer to keep him on the field? If he can, it wouldn’t shock me at all for him to run for 1,000 yards and 12+ TDs. Those types of rushing numbers would make him a great QB option with just 1,500 passing yards and 15 TDs. Those conservative numbers through the air put him at over 24 fantasy points per game. The upside here is just incredible thanks to his rushing ability and the MAC competition he’s about to face. 

Josh Hoover vs. Ken Seals – TCU

I do have a type and neither of these guys fits the mold of what I usually go after (run first QBs), but the volume is here to make whoever wins this job an extreme value at this point in the best ball season.

Hoover is the favorite to land the gig and is reportedly getting rave reviews from workouts so far this year, yet he’s being picked in the mid-60s in terms of QB rankings so far. In six starts last season, Hoover threw it 46 times per game with a high of 58. That’s the kind of volume worth drafting and easily could slot him into the top 35 with improvement in the passing game. He had 15 TDs to 9 INTs last season and should improve upon that ratio in 2024. I’d love to see something/anything more out of him on the ground to really increase his upside, but it’s likely we will see numbers similar to what he gave us last season on the ground (20/5/2). 

Courtesy of 247Sports

Ken Seals is the experienced one here, starting games in three different seasons for Vandy but has never really put up big numbers. You could blame that on Vandy and the competition they consistently faced, but it also just seemed like Seals is a depth piece for a good team. His fantasy upside is fairly limited unless TCU feels comfortable throwing it 40+ times like they showed with Hoover in 2023. Like Hoover, the rushing upside just isn’t there. Both guys look like one YPC guys max.

Whoever is the QB here will have an offensive line that returns/brings in six guys with 250+ snaps played last season. Out wide, Eric McAlister transfers in from Boise State and Drake Dabney from Baylor (TE), while guys like Savion Williams and JP Richardson both return. This should be considered a solid group of targets. 

When the season rolls around, Hoover is the guy to hope wins the job based on what we saw in 2023. TCU really chucked it last season and could easily produce big volume for us again in 2024.

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