If you are a diehard fantasy football geek like me, you look for every available competitive advantage. Breaking news, injury reports, depth chart movement, trends, stats, you cannot get enough. Well now in addition to providing you help for winning your matchups this week, if you are a true owner looking at the bigger picture and beating your friends to the punch, this column will provide you with some advice for the future. While we will not project future Heisman winners or injuries or Wally Pipping of any kind, it is important to look ahead and take advantage of matchups that can be in your favor. With that in mind, let's look at the weekend of October 1st.
Don't Give Up On Em Yet
Corey Robinson, Eric Thomas and Shawn Southward of Troy vs. UAB
UAB is allowing 44 points per game, which is 2nd worst in the country entering this weekend. They were crushed by Florida and Tulane, so one can expect a team underperforming like Troy is circling this as a "get healthy date" on their schedule. Robinson has not played poorly, completing 57% of his passes with 4 TD passes in two games. Southward, a preseason sleeper, is averaging 3 yards a rush, while Thomas has 144 yards receiving in two games, which also leads the team. While Troy plays Middle Tennessee State this weekend, if you have roster room, these three are one week away from a solid afternoon.
Did Mike Leach Return?
Seth Doege, Darrin Moore and Eric Stephens are must starts at this point for the explosive Texas Tech offense. In two weeks TT takes on Kansas, a team whose defense is reminiscent of one that plays in Conference USA. After hanging 59 on New Mexico, it is clear the Red Raiders are ready to score points in bunches. The player I would target is Eric Ward, who has 10 catches and 3 touchdowns in two games.
While the Jayhawks will do everything to stop Moore, Ward will roam free. A six-catch, 80-yard, TD game is within reach for the talented receiver.
The Total Offensive Package
While certain players are good to start it is also good to recommend offenses on a whole to start in order to expose and exploit a matchup. That is the case for any Maryland offensive player as they take on Towson, Miami (FL) as they take on Bethune Cookman, or even Ohio when they battle Kent State. And you may sneer when I write Ohio, but remember Tyler Tettleton lit up Marshall for three scores, no reason he cannot do that against Kent State.
Prepping for the Pine
While there are certainly fantasy players to target for that weekend, it is also important to get your roster ready for players you need to bench. Take the Buffalo Bulls for example, who have Branden Oliver, Marcus Rivers and Alex Neutz all capable of being in fantasy lineups. But not two weeks from now. Not against Tennessee. Not on the road. Oliver has been dynamic, scoring five times already, while the two receivers each have 17 catches in 2011 through three games. Those guys should all be benched in that spot.
Then there is the curious case of UNC. In two weeks they take on the high-scoring East Carolina Pirates in what may be shootout. But consider this. The Pirates, who have played Virginia Tech, South Carolina and now UAB this week, rank 2nd in the nation, allowing only 220 total yards passing in two games. While Dwight Jones may be a solid starter most weeks, he may see some tough coverage against the Pirates.
Big Ten Game of the Year
And in conclusion, while there are many interesting battles two weeks down the line, the most interesting may be taking place in the Big Ten, where Nebraska battles Wisconsin. While we may expect some ground and pound from both teams, with plenty of yards from Taylor Martinez, James White, Montee Ball and Rex Burkhead, this is the official showcase game for Russell Wilson. He gets his name in the Heisman race with a 3-score game en route to a Badgers win.
Those are my predictions and thoughts. What are yours? Let us know what you want to know for the future. After all, we're here to assist.