Each week during the college football season, we'll give you a heads up on which players have good fantasy matchups and which are better left on the bench. We'll avoid the obvious - yes, start Case Keenum – and dig a little deeper to provide some fantasy insight that, hopefully, will give you a leg up on the competition. Of course, an owner's roster depends on league depth and rules, etc., so some players listed won't apply to every fantasy owner, but if you, dear reader, find a gem or two each week to push you over the top, then mission accomplished.
James Sims, RB, Kansas – Sims will be the lead back for the Jayhawks' season opener against McNeese State. He had an up-and-down season last year, but took advantage of weaker teams. The last Big-12 team McNeese State faced was Missouri, and it surrendered 50 points to the Tigers. So expect Sims to have an exceptional game this week.
Nate Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois – Scheelhaase is already regarded as a sleeper entering the 2011 season and definitely will look to make a statement right out of the gate. He gets the perfect matchup to do so against an Arkansas State team that gave up more than 30 points a game last season. Look for Scheelhaase to post big numbers in the season opener.
Stephen Garcia, QB, South Carolina – Garcia has had quite the offseason for all the wrong reasons, but he has been reinstated and should start the Gamecocks' season opener against East Carolina. While East Carolina has one of the best passing attacks in college football, it also has one of the worst defenses, which is a recipe for a shootout every week. If you pick quarterbacks based on character, then look elsewhere; but if you want to rack up some fantasy points, then Garcia is your man this week.
D.L. Moore, WR, South Carolina – For the same reason that Stephen Garcia is a strong play this week, all Gamecocks receivers become strong plays as well. Moore was named the No. 2 receiver behind Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery should hoard most of the receiving stats, but there should be plenty of scraps left for Moore against a terrible East Carolina defense to make him a decent flex play in deeper leagues.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska – With Roy Helu Jr.'s departure to the NFL, Burkhead will receive the bulk of the carries this season for Nebraska. And against a weak Chattanooga team, there should be plenty of carries to go around. Look for Nebraska to get up big and run early and often with Burkhead leading the way. There is a good chance he finds the endzone more than once Saturday.
Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor – Griffin might be one of college football's top fantasy quarterbacks, but he might not look like it in the season opener. Baylor gets a rough matchup against last season's No. 1-ranked defense, TCU. Griffin will be a weekly starter this year, except for this week. Consider switching him out with a backup who has a softer matchup.
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia – Murray is one of the up-and-coming quarterbacks in the nation, but gets a tough defense to open the season against. Boise State has a top-5 caliber defense, couple that with the loss of star receiver A.J. Green and you have a recipe for a bad game. Play it safe, and Steer clear of the young gun this week.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – Normally, fantasy owners salivate when they see lowly San Jose State on their quarterback's schedule, especially a quarterback of Luck's caliber. But temper your expectations as Luck's matchup may in fact be too good. The Spartans can't stop anybody, so Stanford figures to be up big early, which could mean an early exit for Luck. Combine that with Stanford's knack for not airing the ball out once they get ahead, and Luck could end up with a good, not great, game fantasy-wise.
Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky – It's hard to see Rainey faring well in this matchup. While Kentucky's defense isn't top flight, it is definitely better than most defenses Rainey will face in the Sun Belt. You can also guarantee that the Wildcats will do everything in their power to dominate this matchup against a local rival. Consider benching him this week if there are better options available.
Rodney Stewart, RB, Colorado – Stewart is a talented running back on a talentless team. It will be interesting to see if defenses give Stewart most of their attention and stack the box against him. The first week is not when you want to find out. Take a "wait and see" approach this week.