Getting off to a fast start is key in both college football and the fantasy game. Panic is inevitable when your first round pick underperforms out of the gate. Questions are immediately raised as to whether or not you've made the right pick as you scramble to find a replacement on the waiver wire.
In taking a scan through the early part of the schedule and running through our weekly projections, a number of early season performers stand out.
Early Season Do's...
The Big Four QBs - Through the first three weeks of the season the Big Four Quarterbacks: Case Keenum, Colin Kaepernick, Dwight Dasher and Jerrod Johnson, all look good. The biggest concern would be Keenum heading to UCLA in Week Three. He's currently ranked the 27th best quarterback for that week. Dasher checks in as the #16 ranked quarterback in Week One as he and his teammates head to Minnesota. And Kaepernick gets a #6 ranking as the Wolfpack welcome Cal in in Week Three. Johnson is arguably the big winner of the three with an average ranking of 2.3 through the first three weeks.
A few early season RB plays - I suspect the waiver wire will be burning up for those looking to pick up Vince Davidson and Allen Bradford after Week One. Bradford opens with Hawaii, Virginia, Minnesota and Washington State. Davidson gets Wofford and Toledo before traveling to the Shoe. Once they take their beating from the Buckeyes it's smooth sailing with Marshall, Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green up next. With Donte Harden serving a six-game suspension, Davidson is a definite sleeper candidate.
Fire up the Heisman Campaign - The 'Ryan Mallett for Heisman' campaign will be in full swing after he's done torching Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe to start the season. Wooooo Pig Sooie
The best looking QB2 in the country - Russell Wilson should start the year out hot with games against Western Carolina, Central Florida and a shootout against Cincinnati. The computer has Wilson ranked in the Top Ten quarterbacks twice and accumulating over 1,100 yards passing, 10 TDs and just 1 INT through the first three weeks.
Big Bad John Clay - Clay owners need not worry as he makes three Top Ten (possibly Top Five) appearances on the running back board in the first four weeks (@ UNLV, San Jose St., Arizona St. and Austin Peay).
Sparty On - If you're looking for a sleeper quarterback to start the year, look no further than Kirk Cousins. Michigan State's first four games include Western Michigan, Florida Atlantic (in Detroit), Notre Dame (at night) and Northern Colorado.
No-el No-el No-el No-el - Coastal Carolina, Marshall and Maryland.. no worries here for Noel Devine.
Super non-BCS Sleeper QB - The computer has a man crush on East Carolina quarterback Brad Wornick...assuming he wins the starting job. ECU unveils their new spread offense at home against Tulsa and Memphis. Right now, though, the starting job is still very much up in the air.
Early Season Don'ts...
Sleepless in Seattle - Those that drafted Jake Locker and Chris Polk can't be pleased starting the year out against BYU, Syracuse and Nebraska...ohh and then coming off the bye they get USC in Week Five. Through the first five games Locker's best ranking is #21 in Week Two against Syracuse. The Cuse might have only been 4-8 last year, but they lead the Big East in rush defense (13th nationally) and return 10 starters. In my mind Locker is still a decent play in Weeks One and Two, just not as ideal as some of the other top names.
Meeeeechigan - My Michigan friends can't stop telling be about how this is the hardest early season schedule ever created. Not quite, but former Athletic Director Bill Martin didn't do coach Rich Rodriguez any favors by scheduling two BCS opponents right out of the gate in UConn and Notre Dame.
Good Old Rocky Top - Tauren Poole looks like a great bet to see 20+ carries a game. Unfortunately two of the first three games are against Oregon and Florida. Not an ideal start.
Hawaii on the Mainland - I've beaten this one to death. But keep in mind the opening season schedule affects more than just quarterback Bryant Moniz. His performance will have a direct impact on receivers Greg Salas and Rodney Bradley. (Bold prediction: Moniz doesn't make it home from the road trip as the starter).
The Rambling Wreck - They open with a South Carolina State and then head on the road to face Kansas and UNC. The Jayhawks may not sound that intimidating, but a slow start on the road and owners could be cursing quarterback Josh Nesbitt and running back Anthony Allen (a personal favorite of mine).
Go with Proven Kickers - We've mentioned this one in the past, but it is worth repeating. Ignore projections and rankings for new starting kickers. Go with proven starters from the previous year, and not who we have pegged to win open kicking competitions. It can change without notice and you don't want to short yourself 10 points right out of the game.