We’ve been watching college football for a long time, and we’ve been writing about college fantasy football for a while too. And I cannot remember another time when the season’s start was met with this much giddy anticipation. After months of talk about early entries, spring ball, suspensions, emerging freshmen, camp stars and season-ending injuries we’re finally ready to kickoff the 2009 college football campaign. And it’s with the enthusiasm of Ned Ryerson recalling his high school days that we get another season of "Start and Sit" rolling.
(Another pathetic disclaimer: we’ve already mentioned how difficult it is to predict the fantasy performances of week one, but I’ll do it again. It’s hard not knowing how long a stud will perform against a patsy. So please don’t yell at me if I’m wrong, cost you a win, an eventual playoff birth and championship. Instead blame the BCS.)
The goal of the Start/Sit is to go with gut instincts while avoiding obvious players. After all it's easy to tell you to start Case Keenum and Dez Bryant every week. My intent is to select those that are likely on fantasy rosters, but not necessarily sure-fire studs on a weekly basis. And by going further down the list it’s my hope to discuss some players that pop up solely on the rosters in conference-only leagues. Keep in mind that I do reserve the right to throw a star on the Start List should I grow tired or something good comes on the television.
(Also keep in mind that the views expressed by Brian McDonald in no way reflect the views of his colleagues. In fact each would like him to emphasize this on a weekly basis).
Each week we’ll take a look how the recommend picks from the previous week worked out, with the goal being that my recommended starts accrue more points than those I tell you to sit. If we find that this is not happening on a weekly basis I won’t quit, but instead rely on you, the reader, to make the adjustments, like when Lou Holtz makes his weekly selections. As we had no games last week, I’ll now provide a brief synopsis of how the 2008 Start and Sits went.
For the 2008 season every single player I predicted would have a great week did so, while every player whom I felt would struggle did just that.
Hopefully I can continue this remarkable run. Away we go…
Joe Webb, UAB
Normally I wouldn’t include our board’s top-rated quarterback…but c’mon, it’s Joe Webb. Some leagues may not even see Joe Webb on a team’s roster, so this should, in no way, be viewed as a cop out. Webb, a seasoned senior with some talented targets, will welcome Rice, a team that allowed points almost as fast as they scored them in 2008. Look for Mr. Webb to play a little pitch and catch with Frantrell Forrest and maybe even run one in himself.
Todd Reesing, Kansas
I have sung the praises of Todd Reesing so much this offseason that my colleagues hate me even more than usual. It’s "Todd this" and "Todd that." So I have to recommend his start in week one as Kansas will put the pedal to the metal early, before Mark Mangino gets a peek at his backup quarterbacks.
Andy Schmitt, Eastern Michigan
We’ll hope that Andy Schmitt can stay hot, nine months after his record-setting performance (516 yards passing and five scores) against Central Michigan. And with all due respect to the Cadets of Army, their defense stinks, almost as much as Eastern’s does. It won’t be pretty at times, but they’ll be a whole bunch of points posted at Rynearson Stadium on Saturday night.
Tim Hiller, Western Michigan
I’m telling you not to do it. Everyone and his uncle think that Western is going to roll into Ann Arbor and further embarrass a Wolverine program in dire need of good news. And while the Broncos could keep this game close, Tim Hiller will not post fantasy-worthy numbers. Expect a low-scoring affair, and decent but not fantasy-worthy numbers from the WMU signal caller.
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
While looking through our top-15 quarterbacks heading into the opening week only Terrelle Pryor causes me a little doubt. Maybe it’s because I think the Buckeyes will try to pound the Midshipmen. Maybe because I know that Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo will have his troops ready. And, unlike some other Big Ten programs, it doesn’t appear that Jim Tressel deems a preseason tilt a success only if he hits 60 points.
The Buckeyes will control the game but not dominate. Certainly there’s a good chance that Terrelle Pryor is your clear-cut option. However if you’re debating between Pryor and a comparable signal caller I’m going to advise you sit this sophomore.
Moise Plancher, South Florida
The USF running back situation has been a by-committee approach since Andre Hall ran wild a few years back. And now, thanks to circumstance, Moise Plancher is the clear guy heading into the season-opener against Wofford College. This is a really big year for the Bulls, and with a gutty senior quarterback on the verge of breaking some Big East records, the stage is set. Look for Jim Leavitt’s boys to come out smoking, and Plancher seems a great bet for 150 yards and two scores.
Matt Asiata, Utah
Our computer has woefully underestimated Matt Asiata this week. Utah State ranked 99 in total defense in 2008, and while they've made some upgrades in the front four it is still a really bad defense. The Utes are breaking in a new quarterback, and they'll lean on Asiata. He'll get his carries, a bunch of yards and his share of touchdowns. (Update: I see our computers have adjusted).
Montel Harris, Boston College
Boston College has spent its summer trying to find a starting quarterback, only to see Dave Shinskie crack a rib just when it seemed he was ready to seize the day. Facing an overmatched Northeastern squad I expect to see coach Frank Spaziani and offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill get a little physical. I expect Josh Haden to run well, though I’m feeling a little more Harris in week one.
C.J. Spiller, Clemson
The Tigers seem to think that Spiller is a Heisman candidate. Good starts help, so look for plenty of C.J. against Middle Tennessee.
Michael Smith, Arkansas
The opener against Missouri State seems set up as the Ryan Mallett Show, and with a very deep running back corps it’s hard to envision Smith seeing the carries needed to blow up. Sure he could take a couple long ones to the house, but I’d rather cast my lot with a back I’m certain will see at least 15 carries, something I’m not sure applies to Mr. Smith.
Brandon Thermilus, Buffalo
While my esteemed colleague (who shall remain nameless) appears ready to induct Thermilus into the College Football Hall of Fame, I'm going to take a wait-and-see approach. Assuming that Thermilus will step right in and do a James Starks impression is a tad presumptuous. Besides, who knows how many snaps Mario Henry will see?
DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
I know, I know, I know. We love DeMarco unconditionally and now I'm telling you to sit him. This game will not be close, and if it's not close then Jermie Calhoun will get a whole lot of action while Mr. Murray is thinking about dinner in Dallas.
Toren Dixon, Rice
With such offensive firepower from 2008 lost it’s clear that Rice needs a hero, and he’s gotta to be strong and he’s gotta to be fast, though he doesn’t need be fresh from the fight. He just needs to catch a bunch of passes from John Thomas Shepherd (whom we hope just becomes J.T. Shepherd) or Nick Fanuzzi, who will forever see his name preceded by "Alabama transfer."
Dixon, especially considering the amount of balls snatched by Jarett Dillard and James Casey, caught a very impressive total of 50 last year. And he checks in at about 6-2, thus he’s a nice goal line threat.
Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green
He's back and he's healthy. Tyler Sheehan knows what he's doing, and he also needs a #1 wide receiver. We have Barnes projected for a nice (7-83-1) week, though I believe he'll fly right by those numbers.
Greg Little, North Carolina
North Carolina is my chic offense this season, and the field general, T.J. Yates, will look for a #1 target, and converted running back Greg Little is ready to emerge. He's not Hakeem Nicks, but not many are. However what Little provides is a versatile playmaker who'll open the season in style.
Jock Sanders, West Virginia
Again, it'd be too easy to just pick lesser-known players and place them on the Sit List. That's not how we do it. Sanders' 2008 season high in fantasy points was a shade over 22. His high mark in receiving yards was 62 yards...and our Commodore computer has Sanders projected as a top-ten wide receiver for week one. This fella ain't buying.
Kevin Jurovich, San Jose State
We're all thrilled that Jurovich is back to full strength heading into 2009...all except the USC defense. San Jose State will struggle to do anything offensively.
Jonathan Baldwin, Pitt
I love Baldwin's talent, yet don't love the passing offense. Dave Wannstedt will be content to pound his young running backs in hopes of seeing one emerge as a starter. And this doesn't bode well for Baldwin.
Ed Dickson, Oregon
This week we have a late-night Thursday evening special boys and girls. Oregon heads up to Boise for a game that the Boise writers have been referencing every day for the past six months. And it’s going to be a doozy. Look for both teams to flex their offensive muscle, and just when Boise thinks they’ll see a little more LeGarrette Blount or LaMichael James, Ed Dickson will slip behind the linebackers.
Taylor Wardlow, Rice
Even though their offensive coordinator has moved to Ames, don't think for a second that Rice has forgotten what a versatile tight end can do for the offense.
Ben Wooster, Wake Forest
I like the veteran to find some room against a suspect Baylor defense.
Jason Harmon, Florida Atlantic
Last year Florida Atlantic traveled to Austin to open the season...and they got rolled. Expect a similar result from Lincoln. Harmon will make some noise this season, but it won't come against a defense that is trying to regain its "Blackshirt" form.
Weslye Saunders, South Carolina
Prove me wrong Stephen Garcia...prove me wrong.
The fact that there are now games being played means that we'll never ever have to hear about a SEC coach leaving Tim Tebow off his pre-season ballot.
Let's all enjoy it.