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College Fantasy Football: Freshmen to watch

One part that is unique to playing college fantasy football is that each season a new crop of freshmen come into the fold. Here is a look at 15 freshmen skill players who would be worthwhile additions to your fantasy rosters:

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*****

WR David Bell, Purdue

WR David Bell, Purdue
WR David Bell, Purdue (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The thinking here is that so much attention is going to be paid to slowing down Rondale Moore that David Bell will not get the respect he deserves and he could put up impressive numbers against weaker cornerbacks. Purdue has a solid quarterback in Elijah Sindelar and a strong running game so defenses will be spread thin. The former four-star receiver should immediately be a part of Purdue’s attack and fantasy owners should take a look.

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*****

WR Dominick Blaylock, Georgia

Dominick Blaylock, Georgia
Dominick Blaylock, Georgia (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The quarterback position (Jake Fromm) and running back spot (D’Andre Swift) is settled but there are a lot of question marks – and opportunities – for receivers to step up and get on the field. Dominick Blaylock showed at the All-American Bowl that he has game-breaking ability and the Bulldogs will be looking for that from their receivers. There is depth at receiver but no proven playmakers in the biggest spots, especially if Demetris Robertson remains quiet, so Blaylock could emerge quickly.

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*****

RB Zach Charbonnet, Michigan

Zach Charbonnet, Michigan
Zach Charbonnet, Michigan (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Zach Charbonnet missed spring practice because of a knee injury and his status is not completely clear, but he’s expected to play this season and he could have a huge impact. Michigan is without its top two running backs from last season so the starting spot is wide open and the former four-star has all the tools coach Jim Harbaugh wants. He’s tough, strong-willed, runs hard, looks to knock people around, fights through tackles, a determined worker and on and on. If he’s healthy and he gets a shot, Charbonnet could be Michigan’s No. 1 guy early in the season.

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*****

QB Jayden Daniels, Arizona State

Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The feeling is that Arizona State might lean on Dillon Sterling-Cole’s experience early in the season. But there is an inevitability that Jayden Daniels is the long-term answer in Tempe and that he’s going to get his opportunities as well. The former four-star is a fantastic pocket passer but he can also escape, throw on the run and pick up chunks of yards with his feet, which should make him a dream in fantasy leagues. When he’s on the field, the Sun Devils should move the ball and put up points. ASU plays Kent State and Sacramento State in its first two games so keep an eye on how much Daniels sees the field and then make moves accordingly.

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*****

RB John Emery, LSU

John Emery, LSU
John Emery, LSU (Sam Spiegelman)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire might get the nod at the start of the season but John Emery might be the next big thing in Baton Rouge and it will be hard to keep him off the field. He was rated as the second-best running back last recruiting cycle behind only five-star Trey Sanders. Emery has all the skills to get lots of carries this season and we all know the Tigers, despite some tweaks to the offense, are going to run the ball. Especially if LSU can loosen some defenses with a better passing game, Emery could have lots of opportunities to put up big fantasy numbers.

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*****

QB Graham Mertz, Wisconsin

Graham Mertz, Wisconsin
Graham Mertz, Wisconsin (Darren Lee/BadgerBlitz.com Photographer)

Wisconsin is going to give the ball a lot to running back Jonathan Taylor this season so why not throw Graham Mertz into the fire and let him learn quickly while not being forced to throw all that often? Jack Coan probably has the edge right now but Mertz is the future in Madison and he’s arguably the better passer of the two. If he doesn’t grasp the offense immediately, Wisconsin can work around that and make things easier for him. The former four-star who flirted with five-star status can give the Badgers something they haven’t had recently: A legit quarterback who can keep defenses honest. If Coan wins the job and struggles early, taking a shot on Mertz could make sense.

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*****

WR Joe Ngata, Clemson

Joe Ngata, Clemson
Joe Ngata, Clemson (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Clemson is going to be an unstoppable force on offense and there are clearly bigger names on the roster than Joe Ngata but the five-star freshman should get his chances as well. Especially if the Tigers are blowing teams out, Ngata could see the field for nearly an entire half of football against defenses that have largely given up. Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins are the top targets in Clemson’s passing game but Ngata had a great spring and could be a steal in later rounds.

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*****

QB Bo Nix, Auburn

Bo NIx, Auburn
Bo NIx, Auburn (Robin Conn/AuburnSports.com)

I don’t know if Gus Malzahn is really on the hot seat or not but I’m pretty certain he’s looking for answers on offense. Five-star Bo Nix could be the spark the Tigers need – especially if Joey Gatewood wins the starting job but struggles in the opener against Oregon. Malzahn did not recruit Nix to sit on the bench and the offense needs to get going immediately or fans in Auburn are going to grumble again. Nix won’t have tremendous value if he doesn’t win the starting job but keep him in mind if the Tigers don’t look good against Oregon.

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*****

WR Jeremiah Payton, Miami

Jeremiah Payton, Miami
Jeremiah Payton, Miami (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

There is a ton of skill at the receiver position for the Hurricanes but those players are largely unproven and Miami is looking for anything to kickstart the offense. Jeremiah Payton is good enough to emerge in that role especially if the quarterback who wins the starting job has a chemistry with the former four-star. What’s important here is that the ‘Canes are going to be really tested in the opener against Florida and if the starters disappoint then Payton could see the field way more often.

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*****

WR Wan’Dale Robinson, Nebraska

Wan’Dale Robinson, Nebraska
Wan’Dale Robinson, Nebraska (Tyler Krecklow)

There is a big hole in Nebraska’s offense with the loss of Stanley Morgan and Wan'dale Robinson could have a chance to fill it. If the former four-star is being compared with Purdue’s Rondale Moore then Robinson should be a phenomenal fit in coach Scott Frost’s offense and he will be playing alongside Adrian Martinez, who is emerging as one of the best quarterbacks nationally. Through September, the Huskers should be scoring a lot of points and Robinson could emerge as a big threat in Nebraska’s offense.

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*****

RB Trey Sanders, Alabama

Trey Sanders, Alabama
Trey Sanders, Alabama (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs are off to the NFL so it’s expected that Najee Harris and Brian Robinson will take over the duties in the backfield but Sanders might just be too good to keep off the field. The former five-star and No. 1 running back in the 2019 class already has a physical build to withstand punishment in the SEC and he’s an incredibly hard runner who could bring a dynamic quality to Alabama’s backfield. For fantasy owners, he might not have the most carries by season’s end but he might have the most yards and touchdowns.

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*****

WR Jake Smith, Texas

Jake Smith, Texas
Jake Smith, Texas (Ralph Amsden)

Jake Smith should be perfect in Texas’ offense and could be a great addition for fantasy owners. He can play out of the backfield, he can line up in the slot and the Longhorns can use him all over the field to get the ball in his hands. The former four-star who was under five-star consideration has that make-you-miss ability in the open field and he has tremendous speed to break big plays all the time. In a conference that frankly does not have the best defenses, Smith could rack up fantasy points quickly.

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*****

WR Theo Wease, Oklahoma

Theo Wease, Oklahoma
Theo Wease, Oklahoma (SoonerScoop.com)

Oklahoma is going to throw the ball. And the Sooners need to find some new receivers although CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra are going to get their fair share. Theo Wease was the top-rated receiver in the 2019 class for a long time and he has tremendous playmaking ability so I’m picking him here although Jadon Haselwood and Trejan Bridges wouldn’t be bad, either. Wease has a little bit of everything and coach Lincoln Riley should put him on the field early. The Sooners are going to score a lot and Wease should have his chances.

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*****

RB Jordan Whittington, Texas

Jordan Whittington, Texas
Jordan Whittington, Texas (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The theory on putting Jordan Whittington on this list is that Texas is going to do everything possible to keep quarterback Sam Ehlinger upright and to limit his hits far more than the Longhorns did last season. If they’re going to make a College Football Playoff run, Ehlinger has to stay healthy. That means giving the ball to Keaontay Ingram a lot but it also means bringing Whittington in as a running back and as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He’s electric with the ball in his hands and could provide some serious fantasy value in the later rounds.

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*****

WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Garrett Wilson, Ohio State (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Ohio State lost three of its best receivers so there is an opportunity for someone like Garrett Wilson to come in pretty quickly and be a big part of the Buckeyes’ offense. With quarterback Justin Fields coming in there should be little to no dropoff in Ohio State’s production. Here are two other things I like: Wilson has put up huge numbers in every step of his career so getting on the field early shouldn’t be an issue; and secondly, coach Ryan Day is going to want to make a statement that the program hasn’t dropped off one bit. Wilson is too good to be on the sidelines.

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