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

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.

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 Montee Ball - 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.


Josh Nunes, QB, Stanford (vs. San Jose State)

Meet the heir apparent to Andrew Luck. Some were surprised when Nunes was named the starting quarterback, and he's not the rare elite prospect that his predecessor was. However, he has the job, the Cardinal are still a good team and they open the season at home against the lowly Spartans. It's a nice way to ease into his career as a college starter.

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia (vs. Buffalo)

Murray plays in the increasingly rare pro-style offense, and has a lot of pro potential, but that doesn't necessarily mean great college numbers - an SEC schedule limits his value. However, he doesn't have to play a conference game this week. Instead, Murray gets to open things up against Buffalo, a MAC team that has yet to bounce back from the Turner Gill era. Even with all the suspensions the Bulldogs are facing, Murray should light up the Bulls.

Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA (at Rice)

The tenure of Jim L. Mora leading the way on the Bruins sideline begins with a game against Rice. Somewhat unusually, though, the team from the big conference is visiting the team from the lesser conference. It's reasonable to think Mora will rely on his senior running back in this game. Franklin ended last year with a few rough games, but he still gained 976 yards on 166 carries, and the Owls are not strong on defense. Expect Franklin to begin the season non a good foot.

Lyle McCombs, RB, UConn (vs. Massachusetts)

The Huskies offense was not pretty last season, and the Big East is now almost an afterthought. That doesn't mean you should overlook McCombs, who was perhaps the one bright spot for UConn's offense last year, rushing 275 times for 1,151 yards and seven touchdowns. The Huskies open the season against FBS newcomer UMass, and it could be a chance for McCombs to pad his stats early.

Dominique Williams, WR, Washington State (at BYU)

Going with a freshman the first week of the season might be a risky venture, particularly since Washington State isn't opening the season with a cupcake, but instead face their Cougar brethren at BYU. However, this game won't just be Williams' Wazzu debut. It's also the glorious return of Mike Leach to the sidelines. His offenses can support more than one receiving target. Marquess Wilson should have a huge game, and an amazing season, but Williams should be up there as well.

Daniel Spencer, WR, Houston (vs. Texas State)
Yes, Kevin Sumlin has moved on to Texas A&M. Yes, Case Keenum's seemingly decade long college career is over. That said, Houston is still likely to toss the ball around, and Texas State was mediocre last season in the Southland Conference, which is in the FCS. Spencer only had 12 catches as a freshman, but as a sophomore, his numbers should really improve, and the Cougars should blow out the Bobcats in the season opener.

Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona (vs. Toledo)

Rich Rodriguez, the Wildcats' new coach, likes to run the ball, and there is a good chance Carey will be asked to, no pun intended, shoulder the load. As a freshman, he only rushed 91 times but gained 425 yards and scored six touchdowns, and he caught two passing touchdowns as well. That touchdown rate is going to go down more than likely, but he'll get more carries and more yards, and the Rockets aren't a particularly tough opponent.


Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (vs. Alabama, at Dallas)

This is not merely an attempt to rouse rabbles or cause a stir. While Robinson is a ton of fun to watch and a dynamic player, he also has struggled on occasion, and he's never quite learned how to throw the ball well. The Wolverines face the defending national champions at Cowboys Stadium for the biggest game of opening week. The Crimson Tide lost some defensive talent, but Nick Saban defenses, as it's said, don't rebuild, they reload. Robinson's numbers will probably still be decent, but with so many teams opening the season with easy matchups, you likely will have better options.

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee (vs. North Carolina State, at Atlanta)

Bray has talent, but does he have enough weapons? Da'Rick Rogers is suspended indefinitely. Justin Hunter is coming back from a serious injury. North Carolina State has a strong secondary led by David Amerson, who led the nation in interceptions last season. None of this bodes well for Bray at the Georgia Dome.

D.J. Harper, RB, Boise State (at Michigan State)

Harper is stepping in for the NFL-departed Doug Martin, and he'll probably have a good season. The issue is the Spartans have one of the better defenses in the country, and the Broncos are on the road. Plus, Kellen Moore is gone, so Boise State doesn't necessarily have an automatic playmaker upon whom to rely. It may be an inauspicious start for the Broncos this year, and Harper could struggle a bit against Michigan State.

Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt (vs. South Carolina)

Stacy was outstanding last season, but that was in part due to 14 touchdowns, a total not likely to be repeated. Conversely, the Gamecocks look to have another great defense, with Jadeveon Clowney stepping up his playing time to replace Melvin Ingram. Even at home, it will probably be a tough road to hoe for Stacy against South Carolina.

Taylor Stockemer, WR, Arkansas State (at Oregon)

The Red Wolves might be the jewel of the Sun Belt, led by the dynamic Ryan Aplin under center. But Arkansas State has a new head coach in Gus Malzahn, and it remains to be seen how the offense will look under his control. What's more, playing in Eugene is always extremely difficult, what with all the noise and such. The Ducks are likely to score plenty, giving Arkansas State a lot of possessions of its own, but the underrated Oregon defense should keep Stockemer and company in check.

D.J. Coles, WR, Virginia Tech (vs. Georgia Tech)

Coles could break out this season, and the Hokies have a really good quarterback in Logan Thomas to help him do so. Last year, Coles had 36 receptions for 480 yards and three scores, numbers he easily should improve this season. However, the Yellow Jackets have a stout defense, and their triple-option offense kills a lot of clock, meaning less chances for Coles and company to toss the ball around. That could make for a mediocre outing for Coles in the season opener.

Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern (at Syracuse)

Dan Persa is gone, and now Colter is the main man under center for the Wildcats. He was efficient in his limited passing attempts last season, but it was running the ball - 654 yards, nine touchdowns - buttered his bread. Colter definitely will be worth starting many weeks, and perhaps even this week depending on your options. However, opening on the road against a decent Syracuse squad is a tougher matchup than many other quarterbacks face Week 1. Perhaps eschew Colter this week if possible.

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