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Taysom Hill, QB BYU vs Arizona
When healthy, Hill has proven to be one of the more dynamic quarterbacks in the nation. Well, he’s healthy and ready to show the country that he hasn’t lost a step when the Cougars take on Arizona in Week 1.
Jerod Evans, QB Virginia Tech vs Liberty
Evans will lead the Hokies’ offense in 2016 and has talented receivers around him (Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips, and Bucky Hodges). Had the JUCO transfer been named the starter a little earlier in camp, he likely would have been taken much higher in fantasy drafts as the leader of Tech’s spread attack.
Markell Jones, RB Purdue vs Eastern Kentucky
Jones was productive as a freshman in 2015 and is set to become one of the top backs in the Big Ten this season. Jones will have a significant role in leading the Boilermakers’ rushing attack and should get out the gate in a big way with a very favorable Week 1 matchup against Eastern Kentucky.
Ralph Webb, RB Vanderbilt vs South Carolina
The Commodores’ offense will likely lean on Webb more this year than they did in 2015 and he will be center stage in a Thursday night matchup against South Carolina on national television. Expect Webb to get 25-plus carries against a Gamecocks defense that gave up an SEC-worst 217 yards per game on the ground last year.
Travis Rudolph, WR Florida State vs Ole Miss
We know that Dalvin Cook is the centerpiece of the Noles’ offense, but FSU needs a playmaker on the outside to keep defenses honest. Rudolph is primed to have a big 2016 season and he’ll likely be quarterback Deondre Francois’ favorite target in Monday night's matchup against Ole Miss.
Corey Davis, WR Western Michigan at Northwestern
Just because we have a MAC vs. Big Ten matchup does not mean that Davis should be benched this week. He’s one of the most explosive receivers in college football and can take it to the house in a hurry. Besides, we wouldn’t sit one of our top fantasy receivers in the season’s opening week.
Elijah McGuire, RB UL-Lafayette vs Boise State
The Ragin’ Cajuns are going to have to play a perfect game if they plan on upsetting the Broncos at home in the season opener. Expect McGuire to receive a heavy workload in Week 1 and UL-Lafayette to play inspired football in honor of the flood-ravaged community in and around the Lafayette area.
James Conner, Pitt vs Villanova
While we are on the subject of inspiring football, there may not be a better feel-good story this weekend than the return of Pitt running back James Conner. Conner has battled back from a season-ending knee injury and Hodgkin’s lymphoma over the past year and you can bet that the team is going to do everything they can to get him into the end zone in Week 1.
Kalif Phillips, RB Charlotte at Louisville
Charlotte returns an experienced offensive line and we expect Phillips to have a big 2016 campaign, but the 49ers are overmatched in the season opener at Louisville and there may be better options on your roster in Week 1, a slate loaded with FBS v FCS matchups.
Kerryon Johnson, Auburn vs Clemson
By all accounts, Johnson should get the most work in the Auburn backfield this weekend against Clemson, but the Tigers have been known to rotate their backs and ride the hot hand, which is a scenario that could possibly play out this Saturday, especially if Auburn’s offense struggles to get things going against one of the nation’s best teams.
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii at Michigan
Many fantasy owners may have claimed Saint Juste after he totaled over 150 yards and scored a TD against Cal last week in college football’s season-opening game in Australia. However, the Warriors are traveling to Ann Arbor and facing one of the nation’s top defenses, so you may want to wait a week before Saint Juste occupies a spot in your active roster.
Ronnie Moore, WR Bowling Green at Ohio State
Moore should be the Falcons’ top receiver in 2016, but Ohio State’s defensive pressure will collapse the pocket often on quarterback James Knapke, which will prevent him from distributing the ball to his dynamic playmaker with consistency.
Nick Wilson, RB Arizona at BYU
The emergence of running back Orlando Bradford has many wondering how the carries will be divided in the season-opening game against BYU. As we mentioned earlier, there are just too many mismatches on the Week 1 slate to start a back that could be looking at a 50/50 split in a challenging Week 1 contest. Could Wilson go off? He certainly has the potential, but the risk outweighs the reward.
Anu Solomon, QB Arizona at BYU
We are days away from kickoff and a starter has yet to be named. Even if Solomon is named the starting quarterback well before kickoff, there could still be a chance that Brandon Dawkins sees playing time given Rich Rod’s track record. We would rather raise the caution flag and have Solomon prove us wrong than give you guys the green light and he lays an egg. The best case scenario for Solomon owners: Reserve Solomon in Week 1 and hope he performs well enough to become the unquestionable starter moving forward.
Marquise Young, RB Massachusetts at Florida
Young is a player on the rise, but UMass’ move to an independent has resulted in some scheduling hurdles. Expect Young to have peaks and valleys throughout the 2016 season. After the opener vs Florida, the Minutemen play Boston College and Mississippi State in two of the three following weeks. Hopefully, Young can play his way off of this list, but he’s likely destined for another appearance on the Bench List in Week 2.
Justin Davis and Ronald Jones, RBs USC vs Alabama
The Trojans have not hidden the fact that they will put more emphasis on the running game in 2016, as well they should with backs like Justin Davis and Ronald Jones. However, we would be going against our philosophy to take a chance on two guys that are likely to split carries against one of the more dominating defense in college football.
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