As always, we try to stay away from the obvious and give our thoughts about the players you may be second-guessing this week based on their respective matchup.
C.J. Brown, QB-Maryland vs Florida International
Not only does Brown’s dual-threat ability come into play, but he has two proven playmakers on the outside in receivers Stefon Diggs and former New Mexico standout Deon Long. If Brown stays healthy, he could have a major fantasy impact in a conference that is suddenly blooming offense.
Kolton Browning, QB-LA-Monroe at Oklahoma
The Warhawks return seven starters on an offense that outscored Arkansas and took Auburn and Baylor down to the wire in 2012. Oklahoma only returns four starters from a defense that gave up nearly 400 yards per game last year, so don’t be surprised if Browning and company put a scare into the Sooners.
Melvin Gordon, RB-Wisconsin vs Massachusetts
Gordon may be listed second on the depth chart, but he and White are considered 1A and 1B. In fact, Gordon may be called upon a little more often in short-yardage and goal line situations.
Ben Malena, RB-Texas A&M vs Rice
We kept dropping Malena in our fall rankings because there are so many good backs in College Station. However, Malena emerged as the clear starter and should get a significant amount of carries in the season-opener against Rice.
Tre Mason, RB-Auburn vs Washington State
A game that features offenses led by Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn should yield a ton of plays. Look for Mason to be called upon early and often while Nick Marshall settles into the starting quarterback role.
Fitz Toussaint, RB-Michigan vs Central Michigan
We were optimistic that true frosh Derrick Green was going to win the starting running back job this fall, but he is not anywhere near the top of the depth chart. In recent preseason interviews, coach Hoke has stated that Toussaint has clearly separated himself from the pack to be the lead back for the Wolverines.
Raymond Sanders, RB-Kentucky vs Western Kentucky
The coaches are so certain about Sanders’ role in the offense that they kept him out of live scrimmages leading up to the season. While the Wildcats’ Air Raid attack remains a work-in-progress, expect the senior back to be the one constant in an evolving offense.
Mack Brown, RB-Florida vs Toledo
We are now getting news that listed starter Matt Jones could be out longer than initially reported. If so, Brown’s stock could rise significantly, especially with a strong showing against Toledo in Week 1.
Donnell Kirkwood, RB-Minnesota vs UNLV
We remain high on Kirkwood as the season nears, especially when taking the Gophers’ early-season schedule into consideration. In 2012, UNLV ranked 106th nationally in rushing defense and it’s a good bet that they will see a heavy dose of Kirkwood this weekend.
Robbie Rhodes, WR-Baylor vs Wofford
The freshman receiver has been making plays since he set foot on campus and is just too talented to keep off the field. Is it too early to predict that Rhodes may be the best receiver to wear a Baylor uniform? Maybe. But, we are all-in with the talented freshman from Fort Worth, Texas.
Nelson Agholor, WR-USC at Hawaii
Most of the preseason talk surrounding the program this fall has been about the quarterback competition between Max Wittek and Cody Kessler. Agholor, who we feel is a sleeping fantasy giant, will benefit from the double-team coverage on fellow receiver Marqise Lee.
Daikeil Shorts, WR-West Virginia vs William & Mary
Word coming out of WVU fall camp was that head coach Dana Holgorsen was dissatisfied with the performance of his inside receivers. Shorts, who spent the spring at one of the outside receiver positions, was moved inside at some point during the fall and drew immediate praise for his ability to learn and maturity………..and for those of you in keeper leagues, he is only a freshman.
Logan Thomas, QB-Virginia Tech vs Alabama
Anyone familiar with the site knows that we enact Plan B when it comes to starting a player on our roster against the Alabama defense. Have we ever been burned by this philosophy? Yes. Johnny Manziel made us look like fools last year when he played in Tuscaloosa. Logan Thomas ≠ Johnny Football
Tyler Van Tubbergen, QB-Western Michigan at Michigan
Van Tubbergen’s fantasy value took a hit when he lost the Broncos’ top receiver from a year ago, Jaime Wilson, during fall camp. Not to mention, the senior quarterback is taking snaps behind a very inexperienced offensive line. That particular formula does not add up, at least not in the season-opener at Michigan State.
Bryn Renner, QB-North Carolina South Carolina
Renner is going to throw the ball all around the yard this year, but we just get a sense that his opportunities will be limited [;) Jadeveon Clowney] on the road at South Carolina.
Cody Kessler/Max Wittek, QBs-USC at Hawaii
We are projecting Kessler to win the job, but until it’s a done deal, keep these two on your watch list.
Clint Trickett/Paul Millard, QBs-West Virginia vs William & Mary
We are projecting Trickett to win the job, but add this one to your watch list, too.
Clint Chelf/JW Walsh, QBs-Oklahoma State vs Mississippi St
This one baffles us because it does not seem wise to juggle two quarterbacks in a game against a quality opponent. After all, the Bulldogs are no Hawaii or William & Mary. We still like Chelf to emerge as the starter, but JW Walsh at the very least will steal some red zone opportunities.
Jake Waters, QB-Kansas State vs North Dakota St
Waters has been named the starter, but coach Snyder stated that Daniel Sams will play. We are starting to sense a trend that these season-opening mismatches are serving as quarterback auditions.
Branden Oliver, RB-Buffalo at Ohio State
We are expecting Oliver to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2012 season, but this may be the only game on Buffalo’s schedule in which owners need be wary of starting the senior tailback.
Zurlon Tipton, RB-Central Michigan at Michigan
If you play in a deep league, starting Tipton is not the worst thing you can do. However, your roster may be loaded with running backs that have more attractive matchups in Week 1
Jeremy Hill, RB-LSU vs TCU
Even though Hill avoided expulsion from the team because of off-field issues, it remains to be seen if a suspension is in line for the opener against TCU. Play it safe and consider all other options before giving Hill the nod in Week 1.
Trey Watts, RB-Tulsa at Bowling Green
Benching Watts against a MAC defense doesn’t look right on paper, but we are standing behind this one. Bowling Green returns nine starters on a defense that ranked nationally in total defense (6) and scoring defense (10). Eight times last year they held opponents to 14 or fewer points.
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