It’s finally time for the regular season of the 2011 College Football season. Instead of news coming out of Chapel Hill, Columbus and Miami of bad deeds off of the field, we can again concentrate on the action on the gridiron. Better yet, if you’re reading this, you likely have a College Fantasy Football team — or are thinking about it — and you’re ready to set your lineup for the upcoming week.
What’s nice about College Fantasy Football, is the team that you draft, isn’t necessarily the team you go with throughout the season. In fact, with such a large group of free agents to pick from in leagues which use all of the conferences, your roster turnover in any given season might be 75-80 percent.
Each week, I’ll provide a few sleepers and busts, which you may or may not choose to use. Hopefully it will give you an extra win or two, and perhaps lead you to a championship. If so, I’ll give you the e-mail to my PayPal account, and you can feel free to tip me! Ha.
Week 1 (Sept. 1-5, 2011) Sleepers
Pete Thomas, QB, Colorado State (vs. New Mexico – Sat – 6pm ET): Thomas posted pretty impressive numbers last season in his freshman season, totaling 2,662 passing yards with 11 TD passes and 13 INTs in 12 games. On the surface, that doesn’t look that great. However, he gradually improved as the season went on, throwing just six picks in his final eight games after a rocky start. Thomas threw for 256 yards and a score in a 38-14 win against New Mexico Oct. 30. The Lobos were the 119th out of 120 teams in the FBS in team total defense. They also allowed an astounding 69 total touchdowns in just 12 games. Thomas should have a big day, although he is not someone you’d normally depend on in Fantasy.
Alvester Alexander, RB, Wyoming (vs. Weber State – Sat – 9pm ET): Alexander posted 792 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns in 2010, and he added 134 yards on receptions out of the backfield. He isn’t someone you would normally depend upon, but he has RB2 or ‘flex’ play upside in a Week 1 matchup against FCS opponent Weber State. As long as your league doesn’t penalize your player for a ‘weak’ opponent, roll with Alexander and enjoy the results.
Princeton McCarty, RB, Idaho (vs. Bowling Green – Thu – 9pm ET): This is getting into the deep, deep sleeper area. McCarty will have to share the football with RBs Kama Bailey, and perhaps Arizona State transfer Ryan Bass, but there will be plenty of opportunity against a Bowling Green rush defense which couldn’t stop anyone last season. The last time these two teams met, it was a 43-42 shootout in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl. McCarty ran for 75 yards on just nine carries in that game against the Falcons. Neither team is particularly good on the defensive side of the ball, so keep an eye on this game for plenty of offensive production. McCarty is a particularly attractive start in leagues which use the WAC, and perhaps just a handful of western conferences.
Verlon Reed, WR, Ohio State (vs. Akron – Sat – 12N ET): The redshirt freshman will be the starting ‘X’ receiver, although it is unclear whether QB Joe Bauserman or Braxton Miller will be under center. Likely, both will see time. The Zips had difficulty against the pass in 2010, allowing 264.1 yards per game through the air. It’s just what the doctor ordered for Reed and the young Buckeyes. Reed isn’t a long-term Fantasy option, at least this season, especially with WR DeVier Posey due back after his five-game suspension.
Week 1 (Sept. 1-5, 2011) Busts
Danny O’Brien, QB, Maryland (vs. Miami, Fla. – Mon – 8pm ET): O’Brien was surprisingly effective in his freshman season, posting 2,438 passing yards, 22 TDs and just eight INTs in 2010. Statistically, his worst game came against Miami Nov. 6, when he misfired on 19 of his 28 pass attempts for just 134 yards, one TD and one INT in a 26-20 loss. The Hurricanes actually ranked third in the FBS against the pass, so it is a good idea to bench O’Brien in all formats.
Alfred Morris, RB, Florida Atlantic (at Florida – Sat – 7pm ET): Morris has been a serviceable Fantasy back at times in the past, but that’s mostly against Sun Belt Conference opponents. Morris will be running behind an improved O-line this season, but he gets the Florida Gators in the opener, in the Swamp no less. The Gators ranked 31st in rushing defense in 2010, and it’s unlikely FAU will be running much past the second quarter once they get in a deep, deep hole.
Mike Shanahan, WR, Pittsburgh (vs. Buffalo – Sat – 6pm ET): QB Tino Sunseri and the Panthers might find the sledding tougher than expected against a Buffalo pass defense which ranked 18th overall in 2010. The Panthers should be ahead in this game, and if they turn the game into a rout, they’ll likely be running the ball more, too. Both of those factors make Shanahan a below-average Fantasy play in the opener, although he should be a nice low-end WR2 or ‘flex’ play more often than not.
Vance McDonald, TE, Rice (vs. Texas – Sat – 8pm ET): McDonald posted five TD receptions in his final three games in 2010, and he was considered a nice sleeper pick in most Fantasy leagues this year. However, he’ll be starting up against a stingy Texas pass defense. It isn’t a great matchup, although he’ll certainly be a Fantasy force sooner rather than later.
FCFI Experts League Week 1 Lineup (vs. Fantasy Football Brothers)
QB1 – Stephen Garcia (South Carolina vs. East Carolina)
QB2 – Dan Persa (Northwestern at Boston College)
RB1 – Vick Ballard (Mississippi State at Memphis)
RB2 – Lance Dunbar (North Texas at Florida Int’l)
RB3 – James Sims (Kansas vs. McNeese State)
WR1 – Kendall Wright (Baylor vs. TCU)
WR2 – Donovan Varner (Duke vs. Richmond)
TE1 – Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame vs. South Florida)
PK1 – Will Snyderwine (Duke vs. Richmond)
DEF – Wisconsin (vs. UNLV)
I chose to go with Garcia against East Carolina, statistically one of the worst passing defenses in the nation in 2010. I use Garcia over Louisiana-Monroe’s Kolton Browning, who is on the road at Florida State. Despite news that North Carolina RB Ryan Houston will start against James Madison, I am starting Ballard, Dunbar and Sims, all against subpar opponents. I was forced to use Varner this week against FCS opponent Richmond, as WR Damaris Johnson was suspended indefinitely this past week by Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship. My opponent has Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, Texas A&M RB Cyrus Gray, and Toledo WR Eric Page, who scare me the most. It would be great to get off to a nice start. I’ll update the progress of the experts league as the season goes on.