For those of you taking part in bowl-eligible fantasy drafts or salary/tier-cap games such as Athlonís Fantasy Bowl game (http://fantasysports.athlonsports.com/FantasyBowl/Default.aspx), hopefully these rankings will help steer you towards a roster that will crush the competition.
Here are some general thoughts that went behind my reasoning for these rankings:
Itís Hard to Go Wrong With Auburn or Oregon
The National Championship Game between Auburn and Oregon should be relatively high-scoring. Look for both the passing and rushing attacks of both teams to have success in this one.
For Auburn, that means Cam Newton (as always) is a nearly flawless option, while wideout Darvin Adams should be a decent bet to get some work as Auburn will presumably need to be a bit more aggressive through the air than usual.
For Oregon, that means Darron Thomas could put up one of his best performances of the year, at least as a passer. Auburnís defense has been atrocious in pass defense, but slightly better against the run. That means that Thomas could be a better overall value than running back LaMichael James, though James should also work his way to one of his standard stat lines. One critical difficulty Oregon will face is Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who is entirely capable of taking over the game. Itís imperative that Oregon prevents Fairly from dominating the interior, because the option-spread system wonít work if the Ducks donít have time to execute all their misdirections.
In addition to Thomas and James, target wideout Jeff Maehl, who quietly scored 12 touchdowns this year and should find room against Auburnís mistake-prone secondary. Tight end David Paulson is also a threat to go deep.
Nevada Heading For a Boston College Brick Wall?
Iíve already been burned earlier this year for doubting Nevada, but I just canít feel confident about their offense against the Boston College defense. For that reason, Iím not high on quarterback Colin Kaepernick or running back Vai Taua, both of whom are normally locks for huge numbers.
The Wolfpack were able to produce against Boise State, but the Boston College defense is probably better. Despite spending a lot of time on the field due to the teamís complete lack of a passing game, the Boston College defense ranked first in the nation by allowing an average of just 2.66 yards per carry. Theyíre also the only team in the nation to not allow over 1,000 rushing yards on the year.
I think Boston College can neutralize the Nevada rushing attack, and history says Colin Kaepernick is a significant risk to melt down when this happens. Indeed, Boston Collegeís pass defense is unlikely to make things easy for Kaepernick, as theyíre allowing just 5.8 yards per attempt on the season, tied for eighth-best in the nation.
Mississippi State Rushing Attack = Gold
Thanks to the Michigan defense, Iím loving just about everyone connected to the Mississippi State running game. That means quarterback Chris Relf should be an excellent buy-low option. Vick Ballard is a superb option at running back, and LaDarius Perkins could also have a big game.
Top wideout Chad Bumphis (collarbone) is unfortunately out for this one, and his replacements are a bit too risky to receive a recommendation. If you must target a Bulldog receiver, go for Chris Smith.
Although Iím too squeamish about Michiganís rotation-heavy lineups at running back and receiver to recommend any of those players, I am very high on Denard Robinson for this one. Well-rested and coming off big rushing performances against teams like Wisconsin and Ohio State, Iím thinking Robinson should come up big in this one.
Tulsa and Hawaii Do Their Best Matador Impressions
Itís difficult to imagine any of the bowl games resulting in more offensive yardage than this one. The Hawaii defense has been (very) surprisingly tough this year, but the Tulsa offense is closer to Boise State than Utah State. Tulsa averaged 504 yards on offense per contest in 2010, while Hawaii averaged 497 yards per game.
G.J. Kinne and Damaris Johnson are the top targets for Tulsa, while all of Bryant Moniz, Kealoha Pilares, Greg Salas and Alex Green should provide lucrative box scores among Hawaiiís options.
Ohio State against Arkansas: Shootout or Defensive Slugfest?
Arkansas was able to hold opponents like Alabama, Texas A&M, South Carolina and LSU to an average of 21 points per game, and Ohio State allowed less than 15 points per game for the fifth season straight. It seems reasonable to expect this to be a low-scoring affair.
For some reason, I think itís more likely that both teams go over 30 rather than under. Itís safe to say that the Buckeyes havenít seen an offense nearly as fast as the Razorbacks, nor a quarterback capable of making as many throws as Ryan Mallett. Compounding this already formidable threat to the Buckeyes defense is the newfound star in Arkansasí rushing attack: running back Knile Davis.
Davis was (unjustifiably) given a light workload in the first half of the season, but he went absolutely nuts in the last six games, when Bobby Petrino finally noticed that he was wasting what was perhaps his teamís best talent. In the final six games of the regular season, Davis torched opposing defenses for 889 yards on the ground while averaging 6.6 yards per carry, posting 13 total touchdowns in the span.
Iím thinking that the Buckeyes defense might be able to contain either Mallett or Davis, but not both. I think itís also possible that the Buckeyes will be unable to stop either. For that reason, Iím moderately confident in both Mallet and Davis, though I wouldnít buy super-high on either one. Cobi Hamilton is my favorite of Arkansasí extremely deep group of receivers, but Jarius Wright and Joe Adams are potentially good buy-low options.
On the other end, Iím guessing that the Ohio State offense will have relatively little trouble moving the ball against Arkansasí defense. If they can hang 36 points on the Hurricanes, Iím thinking they can get to 31 or so against the Razorbacks. Unlike the Arkansas offense versus the Ohio State defense, however, the Buckeyes will need a group effort out of both the running and passing game. For that reason, I think all of the following players are good options: Terrelle Pryor, Daniel Herron and Dane Sanzenbacher. DeVier Posey is also a decent option at wideout.
Feel free to drop some comments if youíre curious about other games that I didnít address here.
1. Cameron Newton, Auburn vs. Oregon
2. Denard Robinson, Michigan vs. Mississippi State
3. Bryant Moniz, Hawaii vs. Tulsa
4. G.J. Kinne, Tulsa vs. Hawaii
5. Chris Relf, Mississippi State vs. Michigan
6. Ricky Dobbs, Navy vs. San Diego State
7. Landry Jones, Oklahoma vs. Connecticut
8. Darron Thomas, Oregon vs. Auburn
9. Taylor Potts, Texas Tech vs. Northwestern
10. Robert Griffin, Baylor vs. Illinois
11. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska vs. Washington
12. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State vs. Arkansas
13. Kellen Moore, Boise State vs. Utah
14. Danny OíBrien, Maryland vs. East Carolina
15. Geno Smith, West Virginia vs. North Carolina State
16. Ryan Mallett, Arkansas vs. Ohio State
17. Andrew Luck, Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
18. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
19. Nick Foles, Arizona vs. Oklahoma State
20. Tyler Bray, Tennessee vs. North Carolina
21. Kyle Padron, SMU vs. Army
22. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State vs. Navy
23. Corey Robinson, Troy vs. Ohio
24. Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois vs. Baylor
25. Dwight Dasher, Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (OH)
1. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma vs. Connecticut
2. Robbie Rouse, Fresno State vs. Northern Illinois*
Rouse is dealing with a broken hand and a rib injury. Keep an eye on his status heading up to the game. Thereís no information available at the moment, but Rouse is arguably the top option if heís suiting up. Fresno State gives him tons of carries, and he usually goes places once he gets them.
3. Vick Ballard, Mississippi State vs. Michigan
4. Mikel Leshoure, Illinois vs. Baylor
5. Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State vs. Navy
6. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina vs. Florida State
7. Bilal Powell, Louisville vs. Southern Mississippi
8. Daniel Herron, Ohio State vs. Arkansas
9. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State vs. Syracuse
10. LaMichael James, Oregon vs. Auburn
11. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
12. Alex Green, Hawaii vs. Tulsa
13. Zach Line, SMU vs. Army
14. Adam Robinson, Iowa vs. Missouri
15. Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky
16. Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M vs. LSU
17. Anthony Elzy, North Carolina vs. Tennessee
18. Knile Davis, Arkansas vs. Ohio State
19. Montel Harris, Boston College vs. Nevada
20. Mark Ingram, Alabama vs. Michigan State
21. Jay Finley, Baylor vs. Illinois
22. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
23. Tauren Poole, Tennessee vs. North Carolina
24. Noel Devine, West Virginia vs. North Carolina State
25. Roy Helu, Nebraska vs. Washington
26. Stepfan Taylor, LSU vs. Texas A&M
27. Baron Batch, Texas Tech vs. Northwestern
28. Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech vs. Air Force
29. Delone Carter, Syracuse vs. Kansas State
30. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska vs. Washington
31. Doug Martin, Boise State vs. Utah
32. Jordan Todman, Connecticut vs. Oklahoma
33. Chad Spann, Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State
34. Derrick Locke, Kentucky vs. Pittsburgh
35. J.J. Di Luigi, BYU vs. UTEP
36. Kendrick Hardy, Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville
37. Vai Taua, Nevada vs. Boston College
38. Darriet Perry, Florida International vs. Toledo
39. Adonis Thomas, Toledo vs. Florida International
40. Alexander Teich, Navy vs. San Diego State
1. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
2. Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma vs. Connecticut
3. Juron Criner, Arizona vs. Oklahoma State
4. Randall Cobb, Kentucky vs. Pittsburgh
5. Kealoha Pilares, Hawaii vs. Tulsa
6. Lyle Leong, Texas Tech vs. Northwestern
7. Greg Salas, Hawaii vs. Tulsa
8. A.J. Green, Georgia vs. UCF
9. Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina vs. Florida State
10. Aldrick Robinson, SMU vs. Army
11. Torrey Smith, Maryland vs. East Carolina
12. Dwight Jones, North Carolina vs. Tennessee
13. Jerrel Jernigan, Troy vs. Ohio
14. Denarius Moore, Tennessee vs. North Carolina
15. Julio Jones, Alabama vs. Michigan State
16. Leonard Hankerson, Miami (FL) vs. Notre Dame
17. Vincent Brown, San Diego State vs. Navy
18. Jeff Maehl, Oregon vs. Auburn
19. Damaris Johnson, Tulsa vs. Hawaii
20. Titus Young, Boise State vs. Utah
21. DeMarco Sampson, San Diego State vs. Navy
22. Tavon Austin, West Virginia vs. North Carolina State
23. T.Y. Hilton, Florida International vs. Toledo
24. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame vs. Miami (FL)
25. Detron Lewis, Texas Tech vs. Northwestern
26. Dane Sanzenbacher, Ohio State vs. Arkansas
27. Cobi Hamtilon, Arkansas vs. Ohio State
28. Marvin McNutt, Iowa vs. Missouri
29. Darvin Adams, Auburn vs. Oregon
30. Kris Adams, UTEP vs. BYU
31. Armand Robinson, Miami (OH) vs. Middle Tennessee
32. Eric Page, Toledo vs. Florida International
33. Cole Beasley, SMU vs. Army
34. Chris Matthews, Kentucky vs. Pittsburgh
35. Jon Baldwin, Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky
36. Austin Pettis, Boise State vs. Utah
37. Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M vs. LSU
38. Kendall Wright, Baylor vs. Illinois
39. Jarrett Boykin, Virginia Tech vs. Stanford
40. Lance Lewis, East Carolina vs. Maryland
41. T.J. Moe, Missouri vs. Iowa
42. DeVier Posey, Ohio State vs. Arkansas
43. Jarius Wright, Arkansas vs. Ohio State
44. Nick Hartwell, Miami (OH) vs. Middle Tennessee
45. Dwayne Harris, East Carolina vs. Maryland
1. Michael Egnew, Missouri vs. Iowa
2. Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin vs. TCU
3. David Paulson, Oregon vs. Auburn
4. Cameron Graham, Louisville vs. Southern Mississippi
5. Kyle Efaw, Boise State vs. Utah
6. Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern vs. Texas Tech
7. D.J. Williams, Arkansas vs. Ohio State
8. Allen Reisner, Iowa vs. Missouri
9. Orson Charles, Georgia vs. UCF
10. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame vs. Miami (FL)
1. Dan Bailey, Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
2. Blair Walsh, Georgia vs. UCF
3. Alex Henery, Nebraska vs. Washington
4. Danny Hrapmann, Southern Mississippi vs. Louisville
5. Travis Baltz, Maryland vs. East Carolina
6. Kevin Goessling, Fresno State vs. Northern Illinois
7. Derek DePasquale, Mississippi State vs. Michigan
8. Derek Dimke, Illinois vs. Baylor
9. Josh Jasper, LSU vs. Texas A&M
10. Nate Freese, Boston College vs. Nevada
1. Nebraska vs. Washington
2. Georgia vs. UCF
3. Oklahoma vs. Connecticut
4. Alabama vs. Michigan State
5. LSU vs. Texas A&M
6. Florida vs. Penn State
7. Boise State vs. Utah
8. South Florida vs. Clemson
9. West Virginia vs. North Carolina State
10. Maryland vs. East Carolina
11. South Carolina vs. Florida State
12. Florida International vs. Toledo