Each week, I will take a look at the matchups across college football and determine who you should start. I will be giving at least one “Good” play, one “Great” play, and one “Gamble” play for each position. The Good play will be a player that probably won’t light up your fantasy scoreboard but has a very safe chance of giving you a fair amount of points for that week. The Great play will be a player that will be the most likely to be a stud that week. He will be the player that could be the difference for your team for that particular week. There are players that are expected to do that every week, and I will try to avoid those players as it is understood that they are always a great play. The Gamble play is pretty much self-explanatory. This player will be a player that may not have the best matchup, but he is a player that could be an unexpected performer for your team. If you are a risk-taker, this player may be someone you should look at.
Remember, if your player is not one of my picks, it doesn’t mean he is a bad choice.
Continue reading for my choices for week 1.
Update 9/1: Added grades to each pick.
A+= 4.2 C+= 2.2 F=0
A = 4.0 C = 2.0
A-= 3.8 C-= 1.8
B+= 3.2 D+= 1.2
B = 3.0 D = 1.0
B-= 2.8 D-= .8
Good QB: Marcus Mariota, Oregon (vs. Nicholls St.)- Even though Oregon plays FCS opponent Nicholls State, I think newly anointed head coach Mark Helfrich will want to get his offense clicking early. Even if Mariota only plays for the first half, I think it is likely that he accounts for at least 3 touchdowns. He is really a low risk player this week but you could be assured that he will get you a solid amount of points. Grade: A
Great QB: Devin Gardner, Michigan (vs. Central Michigan)- Although he only played in 5 games in 2012, he put up very good numbers. He has high expectations for 2013, and I see him starting right against the Chippewas. This dual-threat quarterback can be a star in 2013. Look for him to post great numbers in week 1. Grade: B
Great QB: Brett Hundley, UCLA (vs. Nevada)– Nevada was one the worst scoring defenses in the nation in 2012 giving up just under 34 points per game. Now that former RB Jonathan Franklin is gone, the Bruins still are looking for that weapon out of the backfield. Until they find him (if they find him), Expect Hundley to assume the role of workhorse for the offense. He has the capability to take over a game and now in his second season, he could really blossom. Look for this game to be high scoring, which is always good for fantasy owners. Grade: A+
Gamble QB: Nick Marshall, Auburn (vs. Washington St.)– If you are a gambler, this is your pick. Marshall was just named the starting quarterback for the Tigers this past week, but I really like his matchup in his first game. He plays a terrible Washington State defense. He sees a better defense at practice every day, and they aren’t even allowed to hit him. The Cougars defense gave up 33.7 points per game in 2012, and I don’t expect them to be much better in 2013. With Gus Malzahn at the helm at Auburn, look for this offense to put up quite a few points in its season opener. Grade: D-
Gamble QB: Cody Kessler/Max Wittek (vs. Hawaii)- The Trojans have not named a starting quarterback yet but I feel that whoever wins the job could have a good game against Hawaii. All things in the media say that Kessler will win the job, but as of now it is still up in the air. Once the starter has been named, I would definitely consider having one of these guys on my roster especially if I am in a deep 2 QB league. With that said, this pick is a gamble due to the unknown. Grade: D- / F
Good RB: James White/ Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin (vs. UMass)– I put both of these guys on here because Wisconsin plays possibly the worst FBS team in UMass. They gave up 224.75 yards per game on the ground in 2012. This could really be a huge day for both of these guys. Of course, one will take away from the other here, but until the Badgers really decide which back they will lean on, this game may be a true half and half workload. Expect both to eclipse the 100 yard mark and to account for at least one TD each. Grade: A / A
Good RB: Todd Gurley, Georgia (vs Clemson)- Even though Gurley is facing a top 10 team in Clemson in week 1, I think Gurley is a great play and here’s why: 1)He will play the majority if not all of the game. 2) Clemson gave up over 150 yards per game on the ground in 2012. 3) Well, he is just really good. I put him on this list for those of you who are worried about his matchup against a top team. I don’t think you will have to worry as Gurley could very well eclipse the 120 yard mark himself with a couple TDs. Grade: A+
Great RB: Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska (vs. Wyoming)- I love this matchup for multiple reasons. First of all, Abdullah is a returning 1,100 yard rusher for the Cornhuskers. He should have no problem matching those numbers this season. The main reason I love this matchup (and you should too) is that Wyoming ranked near the bottom of the NCAA in rush defense last season. They gave up over 230 yards per game on the ground in 2012. Grade: B
Gamble RB: Brandon Oliver, Buffalo (vs. Ohio State)- These are called gamble picks for a reason. Oliver is one of the best running backs in the country but plays on a bad team. In week 1, he faces an Ohio State team that is on a mission to win a national championship in 2013. I expect the Buckeyes to win the game by double digits but I expect Buffalo to give their star the ball often. In Buffalo’s 2012 opener, Oliver rushed for 111 yards and a TD against Georgia, so I don’t think it’s too lofty of an expectation for those numbers against Ohio State in 2013. Grade: C
Good WR: Stefon Diggs, Maryland (vs. FIU)– Diggs is one of my favorite players heading into 2013. This matchup is very good for him but I only have him as a good play and not a great one. Getting his starting QB back helps a lot but it will be interesting to see how the chemistry is with him without throwing him a pass in 2012. This could actually turn into a great play but to be safe I will leave him as a good play. Grade: B+
Good WR: Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma (vs. UL Monroe)- Saunders is primed for a great season for the Sooners in 2013. He has a very favorable matchup but the uncertainty of Blake Bell’s ability to be a great passer is why I have this as only a good play. ULM had one of the worst pass defenses in 2012 so Bell won’t have to be great for Saunders to have a good game. Grade: B+
Great WR: Eric Ward, Texas Tech (vs. SMU)- Ward is expected to have a fantastic season in 2013 and his first game is a great matchup for him. SMU gave up 278 passing yards per game in 2012. As you know, Texas Tech loves to throw the ball and this year should be no different with former Red Raider quarterback, Kliff Kingsbury as head coach. Look for Ward to come close to double digit receptions in this game. Grade: A-
Great WR: Jeremy Gallon, Michigan (vs. Central Michigan)– As you may have noticed, this is the second Michigan player to be a great play this week. I think Gallon will have a very good game and pick up where he left off last season with quarterback Devin Gardner. This matchup is very favorable for Gallon as he should have no problem reaching 100 yards and at least a touchdown against the Chippewas. Grade: B-
Gamble WR: Quinton Dunbar, Florida (vs. Toledo)– The Florida passing game has been anything but stellar the last few seasons, but quarterback Jeff Driskel has shown that he is capable of making the throws necessary to win. I expect Florida to go to the air a little bit more this season as they will be breaking in new running backs. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that the Gators open the season against Toledo, a team that gave up 290 yards per game through the air. If you are willing to take a chance on a WR3 in week 1, Dunbar may not be a bad choice. Grade: F