Welcome to the weird and wild world of Big Ten Fantasy Football. In this new weekly feature we’ll be taking a look around the league and looking over the best matchups at each position, and giving you a single source of truth for the fall. If you’re one of the multitude of football degenerates that saw opportunity for Saturday fantasy, then this is for you. If you haven’t got into college fantasy yet, then read anyway to check out some of the stat monsters coming your way.
Week Winner: AJ Bush, Illinois v. Kent State
HOMER PICK! The buzz from the Illini camp has changed my expectations for AJ Bush. What better time for a fifth-year senior to come out, grab control of the team in a game environment and excite a fan base by running up the score in week 1? Illinois v. Kent State has the second-highest over/under in the Big Ten this week. Prediction - 85 yards rushing, 1 touchdown. 240 yards passing, 3 touchdowns
Bench ‘Em: Shea Patterson, Michigan v. No. 12 Notre Dame
Somehow, Patterson has decent Heisman odds. He hasn’t played a down of football for Michigan and yet, pundits love him. I’m betting (quite literally) on the loss of Tarik Black and a fired-up Irish defense to make Patterson look pedestrian.
Keep An Eye On: Adrian Martinez, Nebraska v. Akron
Want a name to fear for the next four years? Check out Adrian Martinez this weekend against Akron. Scott Frost is the perfect play caller to accentuate Martinez’s natural gifts behind center.
Week Winner: Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin v. Western Kentucky
Taylor might not play more than a series into the third quarter, but he’s an absolute lock to top 100 yards (maybe by the end of the first quarter) and he’ll probably find the end zone a couple times in a route of Western Kentucky. Prediction - 180 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns
Bench ‘Em: Ty Johnson, Maryland v. No. 23 Texas
Johnson gained a ridiculous 6.4 yards per carry last year but is still not receiving all that much Big Ten hype. Maryland is stuck in the bad publicity it rightly deserved, but Johnson’s hype is sadly not building like it should. With an angry Texas team coming to town, this isn’t the week to launch Johnson.
Keep An Eye On: LJ Scott, Michigan State v. Utah State
He’s never had a 1,000 rushing season before, and as long as he doesn’t commit any more crimes this season he’ll surely top that mark. Scott should get off to a nice start brutalizing Utah State’s defense on the ground.
Week Winner: Tyler Johnson, Minnesota v. New Mexico State
New Mexico State got gashed on the ground last week, so the defense will be loading up in the box to stop Rod Smith (they probably won’t be able to). At the same time, Minnesota will be breaking in a true freshman quarterback. That true frosh should feed his stud at receiver, giving Johnson ample opportunity to go bonkers. Prediction - 130 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
Bench ‘Em: Nick Westbrook, Indiana v. Florida International
Indiana is on the road at Florida International to start the season. Who the heck is the athletic director over there? What a stupid game to open up with. Anyway, Westbrook is coming back from injury and hasn’t had the reps yet. This could be a game that leads to further confidence in the knee, but it won’t be right out the gate.
Keep An Eye On: Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska v. Akron
If you’re already keeping an eye on Adrian Martinez, might as well watch where the ball is going. Morgan is going to thrive in Frost’s quick-hitting offense and should be an absolute nightmare for a MAC team underneath. He’s going to turn a few bubble screens into 100-yard sprints.
Week Winner: Noah Fant, Iowa v. Northern Illinois
I’m going to copy and paste this into Week Winner every week. Prediction - 90 yards, 1 touchdown
Bench ‘Em: Louis Dorsey, Illinois v. Kent State
Despite being a “dude” on the Illinois offense, Dorsey was repping with the third string most of training camp. A suspension is looming on the horizon.
Keep An Eye On: Rashod Berry, Ohio State v. Oregon State
Someone is going to emerge from this tight end room and become a really nice piece for Dwayne Haskins and Ohio State. I think Berry has the talent, and now with two years at the position under his belt he could make an early impact.
Defense of the Week: Wisconsin
Remember how helpless Western Kentucky was last year against Illinois’ defense? Well, Wisconsin’s defense is actually very good, and Western Kentucky lost a quarterback who got drafted into the NFL.
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