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Mark Lindquist

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Week 2: Starts and Sits

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


In this column, we'll be running through our favorite and least favorite matchups for the upcoming college football fantasy week. This should be viewed as gauge of just how confident we are in a given player against the opposition. While these recommendations can be used to help weigh starts and sits, they should be viewed as contextual information more than a strict, absolute guide.


Proceed with Confidence


Boise State QB Brett Rypien vs. UConn -- Like Captain Ahab and his white whale, we’re going to follow the Huskies’ defense to the end of the earth. This matchup appeals on several fronts. UConn just coughed up 346 passing yards and five touchdowns to McKenzie Milton, while Rypien is coming off a virtuosic 305-yard, four-score immolation of a far superior Troy defense. This one will be played on the blue turf, to boot. And on an abstract level, this feels more like Rypien’s team than in any of his previous years on campus. Alexander Mattison has proven to be a good back, but too inconsistent to rise above that. If BSU is going to seriously try to crash the national party, they’re going to need Rypien to hit consistently. He's off to a very nice start. That win over Troy should not be undersold.


Colorado QB Steven Montez at Nebraska -- We’re not leaning into this one based on Montez’s near-perfect performance against CSU on Saturday -- he hit on 22-of-25 passes for 338 yards, a 4/1 TD/INT ratio and an additional rushing score -- though that certainly makes us feel more comfortable. Even more than Montez’s Week 1 fireworks show, what appeals to us most with this contest is Nebraska’s situation. Because this past weekend’s date between the Huskers and the Zips of Akron was canceled due to unsettled weather, Nebraska enters this game still needing to earn its sea legs. This was a passing defense ranked 91st by S&P+ metrics last year, a team playing its first game under a new coaching staff, all against an already locked in quarterback.


Washington State RB James Williams vs. San Jose State -- This is as beautiful a matchup as there is on the slate in Week 2. In their opener, the Spartans surrendered 132 rushing yards and a pair of ground touchdowns to Ulonzo Gillam, who plays for UC Davis. Which plays in the FCS. Gillam not only cracked open the defense as a traditional runner, he also caught eight passes for 59 yards and and additional score. You shouldn’t expect Wazzu to rush Williams 23 times as the Aggies did Gillam -- Cougs HC Mike Leach had Gardner Minshew drop back a silly 57 times against Wyoming on Saturday -- but that’s fine, because he’s active as all get all in the passing game (10 catches in that opener). In PPR formats, he’s a gem.


Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson vs. UCLA -- The Sooners turned in a masterful offensive performance against FAU on Saturday -- they scored 28 points in the first quarter and led 42-0 at the half -- with Anderson rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. He and teammate Trey Sermon (very much worth starting consideration in his own right) must be licking their lips to face this tire fire of a Bruins defense. Cincinnati’s Michael Warren II dropped 142 yards and three touchdowns rushing in a win over Chip Kelly’s Bruins on Saturday. That’s not a blip. UCLA has housed one of the worst run defenses in the country for two-plus years, now. Start Anderson with confidence, even in the face of what could rapidly devolve into a blowout.


TCU WR Jalen Reagor at SMU (Friday) -- Reagor made four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown against Southern on Saturday. We actually think this coming Friday night lights affair will be a situation where he’ll benefit from TCU stepping to it with FBS competition. SMU’s defense is bad -- they surrendered at least 80 yards receiving to three North Texas wideouts in Week 1 -- but they also have an offense which should do enough to keep TCU’s starters on the field. We try not to overreact to early results, but we’re only human and man, are we ready to go to war with the Horned Frogs offense.


Southern Miss WR Quez Watkins vs. Louisiana-Monroe -- Watkins was one of the stars of this past weekend with his 8-138-3 fireworks show against Jackson State. That comes against inferior opposition, for sure, but Louisiana-Monroe had issues with Southeastern Louisiana WR Juwan Petit-Frere (5-148-2), so let’s call it a wash. No other Golden Eagles player logged more than four catches on Saturday. It’s very much Watkins’ show, here. Be advised that he’ll be out there on waiver wires in shallower formats. Scoop him up before the rest of your league wises up.


Arkansas WR Jordan Jones at Colorado State -- In one of our leagues, we dropped Jones just before the start of the season. He then predictably led the Razorbacks with five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown in their win over Eastern Illinois on Saturday. If we want to get him back, now, we’ll have to pay for him, a second time, at a higher price. Curses to the heavens! CSU has looked abysmal in two games against Mountain West and lower Pac-12 opponents, allowing two 100-yard receivers in their opener (John Ursua and Cedric Byrd) and one 200-yard gainer in their second contest (Laviska Shenault).


Proceed with Caution


Arkansas QB Justice Hansen at Alabama -- It hurts, we know. But you’re going to have to seriously considering benching Hansen in Week 2 if you have any other viable options. We know, we know. He threw for 423 yards and six touchdowns against Southeast Missouri State. We know. Southeast Missouri State. Alabama. For those in deeper leagues dealing with a G5 pool, if you’re looking for an intriguing pickup off the wire to put in his place, consider Kent State’s Woody Barrett, who threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 117 and a score more against Illinois on Saturday. He’s getting Wagner at home in Week 2.


Missouri QB Drew Lock vs. Wyoming -- Anybody who has spent more than five minutes perusing the college football coverage on Rotoworld has probably by now caught on that we’re not the biggest fans of Lock, especially in situations where he’s tasked with beating respectable defenses. We very much view the Cowboys in that light. While Wyoming eventually did cave to Washington State on Saturday, they held the Cougs to just 13 first-half points. Missouri’s matchup against Wyoming in Week 2 is the kind of game that Lock should be able to handle if he’s taken the steps forward that he’s needed to over the offseason. We’re not going to simply give him the benefit of the doubt, though. Talk to us in a week.


Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams vs. Clemson -- Yup. Beware. The appeal of Williams -- who rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns against Northwestern State on Thursday  -- is understandable. There are only a handful of backs in the country who could be considered legitimate threats to pop off for 200-plus rushing yards on any given weekend, and he’s one of them. The key is not to overreact to the monster games, though. While he has, indeed, topped 200 yards three times in 26 games, he’s posted just six games of at least 100 yards rushing in that space. In essence, if you hit on a huge game from Williams, you’re probably going to really, seriously hit. And if you miss, you’re unlikely to receive any kind of sweet consolation prize. We trust Clemson’s devastating front seven more than we trust Williams, and considerably more at that. Maybe at year’s end, Williams has finally posted the 1,300-yard-plus season befit of his talent. Maybe Jimbo does unlock him. We prefer not to place our confidence in maybes.


Michigan State RB LJ Scott at Arizona State -- If we’re going to spend an entire offseason making jokes about Herm Edwards, it’s probably fair that we doff our caps when he deserves it. And we doff our caps to you, Coach, because your defense put on a clinic against UTSA on Saturday. The Roadrunners did not score their first touchdown (their only touchdown) of the 49-7 blowout until the fourth quarter. Sparky held them to 221 total yards of offense, turned them over thrice, and limited them to three (3!) yards rushing. Scott, meanwhile, managed just 3.7 YPC against Utah State on Friday night. He did finish with 84 yards rushing (plus 57 yards receiving) but it was a mostly uneventful performance for the upperclassman. MSU now hits the road.


Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler at Iowa -- Earlier in the column, we touched on the appeal of Colorado’s Steven Montez against a still-hasn’t-played Nebraska squad. Same principle except in reverse on this one. Iowa State was weathered out for their contest against South Dakota State over the weekend and has yet to get things in order. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, played a sterling defensive game versus Northern Illinois in Week 1, holding Marcus Childers and company to just 110 yards passing. We like Iowa State’s passing offense more than NIU’s, but it’s by a matter of degrees. Butler’s going to have plenty of playable fantasy matchups this season. We’d just prefer to hold off in what’s essentially his opener.


Western Michigan WR D’Wayne Eskridge at Michigan -- While Twitter more or less lit itself on fire to come up with the hottest UM take on Saturday evening, we’re going to take a fire extinguisher to this one. There’s only so much you can read into a road loss to a top-15 team in a season opener. Defensively, at least, Michigan played about how you might expect given the talent on that side of the ball. They limited Notre Dame to 284 total yards, just 170 passing for Brandon Wimbush. Eskridge is coming off a brilliant 8-240-2 explosion against Syracuse in Western Michigan’s opening loss, but that was with the Orange leaking yardage in the second half. We’d caution against overreacting. An angry Wolverines team which  has taken a week of beating in the press might shut down WMU altogether.


Arizona WR Shun Brown at Houston -- We loved Arizona during the offseason, anyway. The Kevin Sumlin Era began in  wobbly fashion over the weekend, with BYU thoroughly outplaying the Wildcats while shutting down QB Khalil Tate altogether. It’s too early to even consider benching Tate, but if you happen to own some of the team’s skill-position talent, you would be wise to consider waiting for the offense as a whole to lift above its doldrums. Brown, for instance, caught just one pass for 11 yards versus the Cougars. We expect this ship to right itself in time, it’s just a little difficult to feel any amount of immediate comfort after Saturday.




Mark Lindquist holds a master's degree from the University of Iowa and writes baseball and college football for Rotoworld.com. He's currently working on a memoir about life, death, rock 'n' roll and his year teaching at a Chinese university. You can reach him on Twitter @markrlindquist.
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