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Start vs. Sit: Who to Play, Who to Bench Week 1

Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan is a writer of sports, pop culture, and humor articles, a book author, a podcaster, and a fan of all Detroit sports teams.

PLAYERS TO START

Stephen Morris, QB, Miami (vs. Florida Atlantic)

The Hurricanes have been noted more for the specter of an NCAA sanction looming over their heads than anything on the field recently, but this is a team with a lot of depth and experience and could make some noise this year. The offense, which was 25th in pass yards last season, is led by Morris, who was strong down the stretch last season. He doesn't run, but he did throw 21 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, and he gets to start the season against the lowly Owls of Florida Atlantic. It is a good chance for him to start what could be a breakout season on the right foot.

David Ash, QB, Texas (vs. New Mexico State)

The quarterback questions for the Longhorns have been put to pasture, and Ash is their guy now, a distinction he earned. He completed 67.3 percent of his passes last season and threw 19 touchdowns to eight interceptions. Texas is expected by some to finally return to its past glory this year, and it won't find anybody standing in its way in the opener against New Mexico State. The Aggies could be the worst team in FBS this season, and Ash should take advantage.

Tommy Rees, QB, Notre Dame (vs. Temple)

After Everett Golson was dismissed from the team, there was some concern about the quarterback situation for the Fighting Irish. However, the drop off to Rees is minimal, at most, even if Rees doesn't quite move as well as Golson. Notre Dame has a ton of tough matchups this season, so rolling out Rees some weeks would be a mistake, but a home opener against Temple is a nice chance for Rees and company to springboard into the season.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin (vs. Massachusetts)

Montee Ball is gone, and so is Bret Bielema, but the Badgers have been churning out quality running backs for years now, so there is little reason to be too worried. Gordon seems likely to be the next back in line, and a matchup with new-to-FBS Massachusetts will give him the chance to make a big splash right off the bat. Yes, James White is still around, but the Badgers can support two runners, especially in a game that likely will be a blowout.

Storm Johnson, RB, UCF (vs. Akron)

Latavius Murray is gone, and his production will be missed, and now it seems up to Johnson to replace the bulk of his carries. He may not even be the best college running back named "Storm," but he showed some promise as UCF's No. 2 back last season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Getting to host Akron, often a MAC punching bag, is a strong matchup to open with, giving Johnson a nice chance to show he is up to the task.

Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa (vs. Northern Illinois)

Yes, the Hawkeyes struggled on offense last season, and yes, Northern Illinois played in a BCS bowl game. However, the one team to beat it last season was Iowa. More important, the Huskies are breaking in a new head coach and a lot of new starters on defense. Iowa likely will rely on Weisman all season to lead their offense, and last year he averaged 5.1 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns. The Huskies should be fine in the MAC, but this opener could give them trouble, thanks largely to Weisman.

Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska (vs. Wyoming)

The Cornhuskers make their name running the ball, but that didn't stop Bell from catching 50 passes for 863 yards and eight scores last season. As his career has gone on, Taylor Martinez has gotten better at throwing the ball, and if he shows more improvement this season, that only helps Bell's chances. What helps him Week 1, however, is a matchup against Wyoming, a state not known for its football prowess. Nebraska's offense should have a big day both on the ground and through the air.

Brelan Chancellor, WR, North Texas (vs. Idaho)

Chancellor was a big-play guy last season, turning 41 touches into 605 yards and seven touches. He is likely to be a bigger part of the offense this season, but the big-play ability will, presumably, remain. Idaho was arguably the worst team in the FBS last season and isn't likely to make huge strides this season. This gives Chancellor the opportunity to prove himself a legitimate No. 1 receiving option.

Nelson Agholor, WR, USC (at Hawaii)

Marqise Lee is, obviously, the star of the USC receiving corps, and with good reason. However, Robert Woods is gone, and somebody must step into the No. 2 receiver role. All indication is that it will be Agholor, who raised some eyebrows as a freshman. Now, as a sophomore, it could be a big breakout season. Sure, there are still questions about who will be the Trojans quarterback, but that likely won't matter against a Hawaii, a team that, even when it was good, wasn't exactly a defensive stalwart last season.

PLAYERS TO SIT

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson (vs. Georgia)

Boyd is an excellent quarterback, and a name bandied about as a potential Heisman winner. However, Clemson begins the season with a huge matchup against Georgia, a team that is considered a national title contender. Boyd could very well have a pretty good game, but it is a tough matchup. Meanwhile, an abundance of quarterbacks have cakewalks on the docket. Boyd will be a great play most weeks, but there are better options to start the season.

Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana-Monroe (at Oklahoma)

Browning and Louisiana-Monroe made some big noise last season, including an early upset of an Arkansas program that was off the rails. However, history does not always repeat itself, and while Browning has plenty of nice matchups once conference play begins, starting the year on the road against Oklahoma. The Sooners should be able to keep Browning in check.

Terrance Owens, QB, Toledo (at Florida)

Owens wasn't a great passer last season - he only threw 14 touchdowns to eight picks - but he added 395 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Owens may be a threat running and passing, but the Florida defense isn't likely to be all too concerned about any of that. This is one of the nation's best defenses, and it gets to open at home. That doesn't bode well for Owens.

Beau Blankenship, RB, Ohio (at Louisville)

Ohio returns the two key players from is offense last season, one that helped power it into being one of the best stories of the early year. Blankenship is one of those players, and he is coming off a very good year that saw him run for 1,604 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, while Ohio may contend in the MAC, it has to start the year visiting Louisville. The Cardinals have dreams of an undefeated season, and they won't be caught off guard by Blankenship.

Joe Hill, RB, Utah State (at Utah)

Hill has to step into the shoes of do-everything running back Kerwynn Williams, who is now off in the pros. Due to the way Williams and Chuckie Keeton dominated the ball, we don't have a ton of information on Hill to go off, though he did score nine touchdowns last season. That said, touchdowns can be hard to predict, and the Aggies have a new head coach and face their intrastate rivals on the road. Maybe Hill can replace Wiliams' value, but it won't start against the Utes.

A.J. Blue, RB, North Carolina (at South Carolina)

Blue likely will get the chance to be the No. 1 back for North Carolina now that Giovani Bernard is no longer around. He earned it after averaging 5.3 yards per carry and scoring nine touchdowns rushing last season. However, Romar Morris is around too, and he could cut into Blue's numbers. Of course, the main reason to be down on Blue this week isn't the presence of Morris. It is the presence of Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the South Carolina defense on the other side of the ball. The Gamecocks are far too formidable to use Blue in fantasy lineups.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss (at Vanderbilt)

The Rebels are a team to keep an eye on, and Moncrief is certainly a player worth watching after a big sophomore season where he caught 66 passes for 979 yards and 10 scores. Once upon a time, a matchup with Vanderbilt, even on the road, would have been enticing. These are not those old Commodores, however, not under James Franklin. They aren't a terribly tough matchup, and in other weeks starting Moncrief against them wouldn't be a bad option. With all the creampuffs on schedules out there, though, suddenly Moncrief's value is, relatively speaking, diminished.

Kasen Williams, WR, Washington (vs. Boise State)

The Huskies are expected to take a step forward this season, and Williams is expected to be a large part of it. If Austin Safarian-Jenkins' injury and/or off the field issues keep him limited, or out, for the season opener, Williams likely will be an even bigger part of the offense. Even so, quarterback Keith Price had some issues last season, and Washington faces a Boise State team that Chris Petersen has turned into a top-25 mainstay. The defense should be able to limit Williams to some degree, which is enough to look elsewhere this week.

Alex Neutz, WR, Buffalo (at Ohio State)

When the schedule gets easier for Buffalo, Neutz will be a fine option, perhaps one of the best fantasy receivers available. He caught 65 passes for 1,015 yards and 11 scores and, as a senior, he has the experience to be relied upon. However, there is not much that needs to be said about why Neutz isn't a good option this week. Buffalo is visiting Ohio State. Urban Meyer's defense is loaded with talent, and this is a huge mismatch. Neutz should be in for a long day.