C.J. Brown, QB, Maryland
Brown missed the 2012 season with an ACL tear, but if his 2013 debut against Florida International on Saturday is any indication, he's in better shape than ever. He showed a great deal of improvement as a passer since he last played, completing 20-of-23 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns, and the fact that he ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries showed his wheels are in top form, too. An Oct. 5 game against Florida State figures to be a rough point, but with Old Dominion, Connecticut and West Virginia up next, Brown could put monster numbers in September.
Deon Long, WR, Maryland
Long quietly arrived to Maryland from the junior college ranks, but he's no stranger to the FBS level and has long been known as one of the nation's most talented receivers. Discipline issues got in his way, though, first forcing him to enroll at New Mexico rather than more prestigious schools, and then even getting him kicked out of New Mexico. In his 2011 freshman season, Long caught 47 passes for 809 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games for the Lobos, adding a fifth touchdown on a kick return. He wasted no time showing off his talent in his FBS return Saturday, catching nine passes for 110 yards and a touchdown against Florida International despite the presence of elite wideout Stefon Diggs.
Paul James, RB, Rutgers
Savon Huggins arrived at Rutgers as a consensus elite recruit in 2011, but he's been a complete bust, failing to average more than 3.45 yard per carry either of the last two years. James is following the exact opposite trajectory. James arrived to Rutgers as a walk-on, but, after scorching Fresno State for 182 yards on 22 carries Thursday, he's now the team's starting running back. Rutgers gave Jawan Jamison 19.6 carries per game last year, so James could earn a big workload.
Damian Copeland, WR, Louisville
Copeland emerged as a fine possession wideout in 2012, catching 50 passes for 628 yards and two touchdowns, but it appears that he's ready to break out in 2013. He already matched his 2012 touchdown total after burning Ohio for six catches, 98 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, and it appears he'll serve as one of the top outside receiver opposite DeVante Parker, with Eli Rogers primarily serving as the third receiver. Louisville figures to let quarterback Teddy Bridgewater push for the Heisman Trophy this year, and Copeland should be owned in most formats as one of Bridgewater's top two targets.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Texas Tech
Mayfield headed into this year expected to serve as Texas Tech's third quarterback behind projected starter Michael Brewer and freshman Davis Webb, but Brewer is out with a stress fracture in his back, and Mayfield surprisingly beat Webb for the starting spot against SMU in the opener. Although Mayfield is a walk-on for Tech, he passed up scholarship offers at other respectable programs to instead make his own way with the Red Raiders, so he has better pedigree than your typical walk-on. And after scoring five touchdowns (one rushing) against SMU on Friday, Mayfield likely will have his Texas Tech scholarship soon enough. Mayfield stood tall against a strong SMU pass rush, shrugging off four sacks as he completed 43-of-60 passes for 413 yards. His 16 yards on the ground would have been 41 yards on eight carries if not for the sacks, so he showed some running ability, too. Mayfield is close to a must-start as Tech takes on Stephen F. Austin in Week 2.
J.W. Walsh, QB, Oklahoma State
Most assumed all offseason that Clint Chelf would be Oklahoma State's starting quarterback in 2013, but a mere glance at the Cowboys' 2012 quarterback play revealed that Walsh is the better player. The Oklahoma State coaching staff was reminded of that in Saturday's season-opening game against Mississippi State, when Chelf completed 3-of-6 passes for just 11 yards while Walsh threw for 135 yards and burned the Bulldogs for 125 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Walsh will start for the Cowboys, and he should run wild against UTSA in Week 2.
Imani Cross, RB, Nebraska
Cross likely will remain safely behind Ameer Abdullah on the depth chart throughout the year, but there should be room for both to make an impact. Despite receiving six fewer carries than Abdullah against Wyoming on Saturday, Cross elevated his fantasy value by securing both of the Cornhuskers' rushing touchdowns against the Cowboys, finishing with 13 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns. With about 35 pounds on Abdullah, Cross should remain Nebraska's favorite runner in obvious short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State
Langford fell behind fellow runner Riley Bullough on the depth chart exiting spring practice, but a late push in the fall allowed him to retake the starting running-back role for the Spartans before Week 1. While no one will confuse Langford for Le'Veon Bell, Langford looks likely to carry a big workload throughout the year, as he ran 20 times for 94 yards and a touchdown against Western Michigan on Saturday. Just don't expect high upside in a sluggish Spartan offense.
Jamarcus Nelson, WR, UAB
Nelson has shown many glimpses of potential in his first two seasons at UAB, displaying rare downfield playmaking ability as he totaled 772 yards and eight touchdowns on just 39 catches. The math isn't difficult - a receiver who scores a touchdown on every five catches and averages 19.8 yards per catch is a receiver who needs more targets. Nelson got those targets against Troy on Saturday, scorching the Trojans for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 10 catches. He even added a third touchdown on a kick return. Although the UAB offense figures to sputter in upcoming road matches against LSU and Vanderbilt, Nelson's absurd explosiveness isn't going anywhere, and he should have a monster season after September.
Nathan Jeffery, RB, UTEP
Jeffery is probably flying a bit under the radar due to UTEP's Week 1 bye, especially since his 2012 numbers of 897 yards (4.9 YPC) and seven touchdowns don't really leap off the page, but he should be an easy source of big numbers as UTEP takes on New Mexico in Week 2. Jeffery will have more running lanes available and more scoring opportunities due to the arrival of Texas A&M transfer Jamiell Showers at quarterback, and Jeffery quietly had a dominant finish to the 2012 season, running for 483 yards and seven touchdowns in the final four weeks.
Angel Santiago, QB, Army
Santiago didn't impress in his first two seasons at Army, running for just 174 yards (3.3 YPC) and one touchdown while completing only 7-of-24 passes for 84 yards, but he did awfully well in his 2013 debut against Morgan State, throwing for 101 yards and a touchdown on eight pass attempts and running for 120 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. His efficiency will drop drastically as he faces tougher defenses, but he should provide fantasy utility against opponents like Ball State, Louisiana Tech, Eastern Michigan, Air Force and Hawaii.
Saylor Lavallii, RB, Central Michigan
Starting Central Michigan running back Zurlon Tipton is out with a broken ankle, leaving Lavallii as the team's new top runner. It's a role that should yield fine fantasy production for Lavallii, who has done well as Tipton's backup. Lavallii ran for 152 yards (6.9 YPC) and two touchdowns in the final three weeks of 2012, and he ran for 52 yards on 10 carries against Michigan on Saturday. Lavallii could be one of the best running back plays in Week 2 as the Chippewas take on New Hampshire.
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Injuries have decimated Western Michigan's wideout corps, with top wideout Jaime Wilson and role players Justin Collins and Daniel Braverman suffering long-term injuries before last week's game against Michigan State. Davis showed the ability to capitalize on his new opportunity despite facing a tough Spartans defense, catching eight passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. There's no reason why Davis shouldn't stay busy against Nicholls State this week.
Dominic Rufran, WR, Wyoming
Robert Herron figures to finish the year as Wyoming's top fantasy wideout in standard scoring systems, but Rufran might have the superior utility in PPR systems. Rufran caught 11 of quarterback Brett Smith's 29 completions as the Cowboys took the Nebraska Cornhuskers down to the wire on the road, posting 120 yards in the 34-37 loss. Rufran's schedule only gets much easier, with Idaho, Northern Colorado, Air Force and Texas State up next.
Kolby Arendse, TE, Nevada
Zach Sudfeld caught 45 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games last year, making him one of the nation's better fantasy tight ends. Sudfeld plays for the New England Patriots now, though, leaving Arendse, his former backup, to step up into a prominent role. After catching 39 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns off the bench the last two years, Arendse got to work in a hurry against UCLA on Saturday, catching six passes for 38 yards. Arendse should see his YPC average drastically improve as he faces less imposing defenses than the Bruins.
Chris Harper, WR, California
New California coach Sonny Dykes' uptempo offense got off to a promising start against Northwestern on Saturday and, three interceptions and four sacks aside, there's reason to believe there will be plenty of fantasy production to be had in both the passing and the running games. The Golden Bears threw for 455 yards against Northwestern, with Harper snagging 11 passes for 151 yards and two scores. Harper was promising as a freshman a year ago, catching 23 passes for 332 yards in the last five weeks of last year, and he should continue to stand out on a nationwide scale as California calls a lot of pass plays in 2013.
Bryce Treggs, WR, California
Treggs may be "the other guy" in the California wideout rotation for now, but he was actually significantly more heralded as a recruit than Harper, so it shouldn't shock anyone if Treggs is actually the player who ends the year with bigger numbers. Indeed, Treggs caught two more passes than Harper did against Northwestern, finishing the game with 13 catches for 145 yards. Both players figure to be stars in 2013 and onward, especially in PPR formats.
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
A gruesome knee injury suffered late in the 2011 season knocked Josey out of the 2012 campaign and appeared to even threaten Josey's career, but he was impressive in his return to the field against Murray State in Week 1, giving hope that Josey might return to his pre-injury form as one of the nation's most explosive runners. Josey averaged a ridiculous 8.1 yards per carry before his 2011 injury, totaling 1,168 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games, and his short-term 2013 schedule is quite favorable. Josey should put a beating on Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State the next three weeks.
Shaq Roland, WR, South Carolina
It remains to be seen whether Roland will remain a reliable target in a South Carolina passing game that appears capable of spreading the ball around, but as an elite 2012 recruit and South Carolina's probable top talent at the position, there's reason to believe Roland can be the team's next star at receiver. He burned North Carolina deep in Thursday's season-opening match, taking two catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, and he should be busier as South Carolina takes on a more formidable Georgia squad on the road in Week 2. Roland is primarily a deep-league and SEC-only consideration until he proves he's a consistent option, though.
Jacob Maxwell, TE, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Lafayette offense once made Ladarius Green one of the top fantasy tight ends in the country, and after a strong Week 1 against Arkansas, it appears as if Maxwell might step up as a viable fantasy option in 2013. Despite the Ragin' CajunS offense throwing for just 189 yards against Arkansas, Maxwell snagged six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. After catching 19 passes for 185 yards and four touchdowns last year, it appears Maxwell secured a promotion in the Lafayette passing game, particularly due to the graduations of Harry Peoples and Javone Lawson, who caught 104 passes last year.
Danny Woodson, WR, South Alabama
Woodson is an Alabama transfer who, even if he disappointed with the Crimson Tide, almost certainly has the raw talent to stand out in the Sun Belt. He definitely showed well in his first game with the Jaguars, catching three passes for 63 yards and a touchdown despite a weak 148-yard showing from his team's passing game. It's difficult to imagine the South Alabama passing game doing much worse than that - indeed, the Jaguars passing offense tied for 98th in the nation in Week 1 despite facing Southern Utah - so Woodson should continue to be useful in Sun Belt-only formats.