Turns out only two – Clemson’s Cullen Harper (No. 31) and Boston College’s Chris Crane (No. 40) – even cracked the top 50. Such rankings should not necessarily be construed to imply the conference isn’t any good. But it does suggest some analyst comparing all the country’s teams has come to the conclusion (a) The ACC’s offenses aren’t any good and/or (b) The league’s offenses are extremely running back-reliant.
Much of this list looks spot-on. Graham Harrell, Tim Tebow, Dan LeFevour, Chase Daniel lead a top dozen that are difficult to argue with. There’s a lot of touchdowns and yards being accounted for with those guys.
One thing ACC-related that is a little startling is the absence of Thaddeus Lewis from the top 100. Yes, Lewis plays for Duke. And yes, the Blue Devils could go 14-0 every year over the next eight seasons and still be under .500 since 1990 (Duke is 43-159 in that span).
But Lewis might just be the second-best quarterback in the ACC, behind Harper, in both reality and fantasy football. He averaged 200 yards, nearly two touchdowns and an interception last year (totals admittedly propped up a bit by an absurd game at Navy). He has one of the best wideouts in the ACC at his disposal (Eron Riley). And he has a new coach (David Cutcliffe) who has been known to improve his quarterbacks from time to time.
True, Lewis had trouble staying upright last season, when Duke’s QBs took 45 sacks. But that (along with his stats) just make him a sort of college version of Jon Kitna for fantasy purposes – maybe not upper-echelon, and certainly not toiling for a good team, but definitely serviceable in a pinch.
As for real life, Lewis made a substantial leap from his freshman to sophomore years. Meanwhile, there are new starters at Boston College, Miami and Virginia, run-heavy schemes at Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, a senior who has lost all of his toys (i.e. his top four receivers and starting tailback) at Virginia Tech, and varying levels of uncertainty at Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina and N.C. State.
There’s no reason to think Lewis won’t be among the best QBs in the conference – so long as you’re willing to look past the name on the front of his jersey.