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College Fantasy Football: Big Ten sleepers to watch

Tarik Black
Tarik Black (AP Images)

The college football season is only weeks away so there is no better time to prepare for your college fantasy football season. Here is a look at five sleepers in the Big Ten who could be worth drafting and they could help you win your league.

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There is an excitement to see just what Michigan’s offense will look like under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, but we think it’s going to be faster, incorporate more spread principles and will have more quick-strike capabilities. The Wolverines have a quarterback that’s perfect for that offense in Shea Patterson, unproven running backs and a deep receiving corps full of playmakers. No one could possibly be more excited to make an impact than Black, who’s dealt with foot injuries the last two seasons. He’s a playmaker with great skills and athleticism and as defenses try to slow Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins, Black should see some great match-ups where he could make things happen.

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At every stop along the way, new Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer has improved offenses and passing games. This should help the Hoosiers this season because they have a quality quarterback and many standout receivers, including Nick Westbrook and Hale. I chose Hale here because he had nearly as many receiving yards last season as Westbrook (590 to 508) but two more receiving touchdowns. Indiana has competent quarterbacks, so whoever is throwing the ball should find Hale and Westbrook often and some big plays could happen. The first two games against Ball State and Eastern Illinois should be great for fantasy points and then UConn and its miserable defense comes to Bloomington in late September.

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When quarterback Brian Lewerke was sidelined with injuries last season, the Michigan State offense was almost non-existent and that cannot happen again. So the offense I envision is one of Lewerke not running as much and the Spartans relying on a massive offensive line for Heyward to pound the ball and gain some solid yards on the ground. Near the goal-line, Heyward should be used often as well and he will have more chances to do big things in the offense. Last season, Heyward had only 118 carries because LJ Scott had 79, La’Darius Jefferson had 78 and Lewerke carried it 90 times. More of those snaps will go to Heyward and he should have a big season as Michigan State’s lead back.

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Ohio State is losing a lot of production at wide receiver and someone has to fill that void. Olave will get his opportunities, especially after showing up on the scene late with big performances against Northwestern and Michigan, where both of his receptions went for touchdowns. The Buckeyes have plenty of other weapons at receiver, but Olave is elusive, fast and has game-breaking ability that could be attractive. It will be hard to replicate what quarterback Dwayne Haskins did last season with 50 touchdown passes, but there shouldn’t be a significant drop-off to former five-star Justin Fields, who is expected to win the job.

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There could be a by-committee approach in Penn State’s backfield, but Slade is going to have his opportunity to be the lead back. Let’s not forget that Miles Sanders had 220 carries last season and quarterback Trace McSorley had 170 last season. The Nittany Lions are going to run the ball a lot especially with an unproven quarterback in Sean Clifford and unproven receivers across the board. The offensive line should be a strength for Penn State and combine that with Slade’s ability - he averaged 5.7 yards and had six touchdowns on only 45 carries last season - he could have a breakout season and could make the freshman duo of Noah Cain and Devyn Ford wait a little while longer before they have their time to shine.

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