Athlon prepares the college fantasy player with in-depth match-up analysis for Week 1.
- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
Week One is here!
It is always the most volatile weekend of action during the college football season. Smart fantasy owners snagged Jacquizz Rodgers in 2008, Ricky Dobbs in 2009 and Justin Blackmon in 2010 after the first week of action. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone what those three meant to fantasy GMs.
Week One means many things. It means third-string running backs are viable options in absurd FBS-on-FCS dismantlings. It means elite-level quarterbacks may not have to throw very much. It means wild uncertainty about facing totally revamped defensive units and new coaching schemes.
Most importantly, it means opportunity.
Start These Quarterbacks:
In the first week of action, look for new quarterbacks, or maybe those in new schemes, to get more work than the established stars. Names like EJ Manuel, Kriss Proctor and Tajh Boyd need to get reps against live competition. Developing youngsters like Tyler Bray should be allowed to throw, while a guy like Tino Sunseri enters his first season with no-huddle guru Todd Graham calling plays. It is important for new coaches and quarterbacks to get into rhythm quickly, and fantasy GMs can capitalize.
Tajh Boyd, Clemson (Troy)
Rumor has it that Dabo Swinney would like to run Boyd upwards of 150 times this season. If that is the case, Boyd will have plenty of fantasy value. Against Troy in his first real game as THE guy under center, expect the coaches to give him free rein to score points.
Kriss Proctor, Navy (Delaware)
I am not going to lie — Dobbs' 2009 campaign saved my fantasy rear-end. And while his 935-yard, 14-TD season a year ago wasn't as mythical, it was still extremely useful. The Navy QB spot won't ever put up big numbers through the air, so depending on your scoring system, Proctor may not have the same value. But in 4-pt passing touchdown leagues, this senior signal caller has loads of upside - especially against the Blue Hens.
EJ Manuel, Florida State (UL Monroe)
Getting reps is the name of the game for Jimbo Fisher and his new star quarterback. The Sun Belt competition offers a perfect opportunity to hone his skills against live competition two weeks before the Sooners come to town. Fisher would be smart to let Manuel throw it around this weekend.
Chris Relf, Mississippi State (@ Memphis)
Josh Harris. Alex Smith. Tim Tebow. And Chris Relf? The first three names were Dan Mullen-coached fantasy goliaths. Relf may never reach Greek God status, but this Bulldogs team returns a deep and talented skill corps and Relf took major strides late in 2010. He is the leader and will put up big numbers in a city where Mullen has to look good in order to recruit.
Jeff Tuel, Washington State (Idaho State)
The Cougars showed slight improvement in 2010, and Tuel finished his season with a huge bang: 298 yards, 3 TD, 25 rush yards, TD. Against an FCS school, Paul Wulff cannot afford to mess around. Expect big numbers from the Cougars offense in the opener.
Tino Sunseri, Pitt (Buffalo)
New head coach Todd Graham brings with him a face-paced, spread attack that posted massive fantasy numbers at Tulsa. While Sunseri might not have the most talent, he does have a talented group of backs and receivers to throw to. New coach, new scheme, poor competition? Yes, please.
John Brantley, Florida (FAU)
Tyler Bray, Tennessee (Montana)
James Vandenberg, Iowa (Tennessee Tech)
Alex Gillett, Eastern Michigan (Howard)
Sit These Quarterbacks:
Darron Thomas, Oregon (LSU, Arlington)
Play at your own risk, LSU is loaded for bear on defense and should be plenty motivated.
Kolton Browning, UL Monroe (@ Florida State)
Maybe there is a chance at a garbage touchdown, but not much else.
Corey Robinson, Troy (@ Clemson)
See Kolton Browning above.
Dan Persa, Northwestern (@ Boston College)
Not fully healthy, and BC is always strong on defense.
Dominique Davis, East Carolina (@ South Carolina)
Excellent Gamecocks front seven will make life difficult for ECU offense all night long.
Robert Griffin III, Baylor (TCU)
Bears have been stewing about this one, and RG3 is tough to bench, but TCU dominated this game in 2010.
GJ Kinne, Tulsa (@ Oklahoma)
Should score some late points but without go-to star Damaris Johnson to help, the numbers will be limited.
Start These Running Backs:
Don't shy away from your studs in Week One, but certainly keep an eye on the 'blowout factor.' How long with Rex Burkhead be in the game? He is a virtual lock for at least 100 yards and a score, so he is impossible to bench, but will he get any carries in the second half against Chattanooga at home? Unlikely. In this vein, if you are truly desperate, look to the talented back-up who coaches need to get reps — like Nebraska's true freshman dynamo Aaron Green.
Keola Antolin, Arizona (Northern Arizona)
Against their only non-FBS opponent a year ago, the Cats rushed for 215 yards and five touchdowns as a team. Expect Ka'Deem Carey to see some time, but Antolin should top the century mark and reach paydirt at least once.
Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt (Elon)
Warren Norman may not be as healthy as Dores fans may have thought, and Stacy got great reviews from new coach James Franklin this week. Expect a healthy dose of the talented sophomore against the Phoenix.
Michael Shaw, Michigan (Western Michigan)
Reports indicate that the starters will play most of this game even if it gets out of hand. Look for new coach Brady Hoke to exhaust the running game and especially Shaw.
David Sims, Georgia Tech (Western Carolina)
There are a lot of backs in Atlanta, and a lot of backs will get touches against the Catamounts. Sims looks to be the starter at the B-back, which has traditionally been the most productive fantasy position in this backfield.
Desmond Scott, Duke (Richmond)
In his last two games against FCS opponents, Scott has carried the ball 31 times for 177 yards and scored two of his four career rushing touchdowns. He added three receptions in those games as well. Expect good things against the Spiders.
Perry Jones, Virginia (William & Mary)
Despite Jones being the starter last year, Keith Payne got most of the fantasy points. While Kevin Parks will work his way into the rotation, his skillset duplicates that of Jones. Expect good numbers from both.
Shontrelle Johnson, Iowa State (Northern Iowa)
Alexander Robinson rushed for nearly 2,200 yards the last two seasons as the starter, and Johnson has shown the ability to carry the load. He should be a quality start against the in-state FCS rival.
DJ Shoemate, UConn (Fordham)
The offense will struggle all season — but not against Fordham. Keep an eye on the start time/day of this one as the game has been postponed from Thursday. Saturday afternoon is the most likely solution.
James Sims, Kansas (McNeese State)
Sims got 67 of 168 carries, 307 of his 742 yards and six of his nine rushing touchdowns in the final four weeks of the season last fall. Kansas will most assuredly not allow another FCS opponent to sneak up on them (cough North Dakota cough State cough).
Chris Rainey, Florida (FAU)
The Gators certainly do not have a traditional power back that Charlie Weis likely craves, but against FAU he won't need one. Rainey should get the 12-18 touches needed to produce a viable fantasy score this week.
Garbage Time Specials:
Eddie Lacy, Alabama (Kent State)
Aaron Green, Nebraska (Chattanooga)
Jason White, Iowa (Tennessee Tech)
LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State (@ Memphis)
Onterio McCalebb, Auburn (Utah State)
Andre Williams, Boston College (Northwestern)
Jesse Callier, Washington (Eastern Washington)
Jordan Hall, Ohio State (Akron)
Sit These Running Backs:
LaMichael James, Oregon (LSU, Arlington)
Virtual match-up-proof player, but LSU front seven will be tough to push around. Bench at your own risk.
Robert Turbin, Utah State (@ Auburn)
Coming back from injury and traveling across the country to play at defending national champs? No, thanks.
Zach Line, SMU (@ Texas A&M)
Stangs will have to throw a lot to keep up with Aggies' offensive firepower.
Bryce Beall and Charles Sims, Houston (UCLA)
Rick Neuheisel has plenty of talent, and his team is familiar with Cougars after 31-13 win last season.
Doug Martin vs. Isaiah Crowell (Boise State vs. Georgia, Atlanta)
I like Martin better than Crowell, but yards could be tough to come by in this one. A field goal wins it.
Robbie Rouse, Fresno State (@ Cal)
Jeff Tedford needs to make a statement early and this is not one of Pat Hill's best teams.
Sleeper Wide Receivers:
The wide receiver position is easily the most difficult to project each season. Sure, Ryan Broyles is a good draft pick and will produce. But the waiver wire is pure gold more so at WR than any other position. See my fantasy line-up in the championship game last year: SMU's Cole Beasley, Northwestern's Jeremy Ebert and Blackmon. All were waiver wire adds. So the advice for the receiver position is play your studs no matter who they are facing and keep a keen eye on the Saturday boxscore. There will be plenty of gems out there each week. Here are my top BCS sleepers for week one:
BJ Cunningham, Michigan State (Youngstown State)
Mike Shanahan and Devin Street, Pitt (Buffalo)
Mike Davis, Texas (Rice)
Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (Marshall)
A.J. Jenkins, Illinois (Arkansas State)
Quinton Dunbar, Florida (FAU)
Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee (Montana)
Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State (@ Memphis)
Nick Toon, Wisconsin (UNLV)
Top 12 Spot Start DEF/ST:
1. Texas (Rice)
2. Iowa (Tennessee Tech)
3. Arkansas (Missouri State)
4. Penn State (Indiana State)
5. UConn (Fordham)
6. North Carolina (James Madison)
7. Arizona State (UC-Davis)
8. Notre Dame (USF)
9. UCF (Charleston Southern)
10. NC State (Liberty)
11. Oklahoma (Tulsa)
12. West Virginia (Marshall)