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Thursday, October 14, 2010
College Football Challenge: Week 7

By Will Harris
Special to ESPN.com

College Football Challenge is a player-based fantasy game with a format that's challenging yet flexible and user-friendly. You can play using all 120 FBS teams or compete within any of the 11 conferences. The points-based scoring system revolves around an eight-slot roster of quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, team kicking and team defense. Each week we'll take a look at the top performers and surprise contributors, while alerting you to any players who might need to spend the week on the bench.

Cream of the Crop: Star fantasy performers with the best matchups

Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple: The Owls' workhorse is healthy again and he will have a field day versus an inexperienced Bowling Green defense that ranks 119th in the nation against the run.

Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State: Hunter is reprising his All-America season of 2008, and this week he'll be leaned on heavily at Texas Tech as the Cowboys are down two starting wideouts.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: DeMarco Murray will do some damage as well, but Jones should be able to distribute the ball without pressure versus Iowa State, and he'll be the one with the big numbers when Ryan Broyles and the Sooners wideouts run wild after the catch against the sad-sack Cyclones defense.

Vai Taua, RB, Nevada: There's a shootout pending on the islands this week as Nevada travels to Hawaii. Quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Bryant Moniz are also good options, but Taua has earned raves for his hard running from coach Chris Ault, who says that his team is going to keep feeding Taua the ball.

Taylor Potts, QB, Texas Tech: Potts is entrenched as the starter in a Texas Tech attack that's starting to hit its stride as coach Tommy Tuberville continues to allow coordinator Neal Brown to open up the offense. A home date against a familiar Oklahoma State defense should provide another big week for Potts and high school teammate Lyle Leong, who has emerged as the Red Raiders' undisputed top target.

Opportunity Knocks: Emerging or seldom-rostered players with favorable matchups

Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana: Chappell and the Indiana offense were stopped cold at the Horseshoe last week but now get one more shot at a nonconference opponent as Arkansas State brings its 106th-ranked pass defense to Bloomington. Anything less than 400 yards would be a disappointment for the Big Ten's best passing attack.

Anthony Allen, RB, Georgia Tech: Allen rushed for 275 yards versus Middle Tennessee in 2007 when he was still at Louisville. The Jackets' offense is just starting to catch fire, and Allen has a shot to top 200 again versus a Blue Raiders defense that's in the tank after getting run over by Troy last week.

Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: Martin is by far the leading rusher in the WAC who doesn't play for Nevada, and he's got a plum assignment this week against a woeful San Jose State rush defense.

Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky: Rainey is the bell cow for a one-dimensional Western Kentucky offense and is easily the leading rusher in the Sun Belt. He'll get plenty of touches this week against Louisiana-Monroe, the Hilltoppers' best chance since November 2008 to break their losing skein (now at 25 games).

Washaun Ealey, RB, Georgia: Ealey is going to have to carry the load against Vanderbilt, since platoonmate Caleb King has been suspended for two games and backup Carlton Thomas is still limited by a hamstring injury.

On the Shelf: Key players who need a week off thanks to injury, matchup or circumstance

James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State: Rodgers is out for the season after suffering a grisly knee injury in the Beavers' win over Arizona. His absence will hurt brother Jacquizz's production as well, allowing opponents to focus on the Beavers' lone remaining proven playmaker.

Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky: Locke is nursing a shoulder injury and may not play against South Carolina.

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: Jones played with a broken hand last week at South Carolina. His availability for Ole Miss is likely a game-time decision, but you'll want to give him a week on the bench anyway and look to Mark Ingram instead, as Bama will seek to restore its dominant ground attack versus one of the weakest defenses in the SEC.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: Gabbert is nearly an every-week start, but this week he is slowed by a hip pointer as his Tigers play their first road game of the year against a desperate Texas A&M team that's been playing very good defense lately. Look elsewhere.

Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: The freshman has been impressive so far, but Nebraska hasn't faced even an average defense yet. This week's tilt with visiting Texas doesn't figure to feature much offense from either side, and coordinator Will Muschamp has had two weeks to dial his defense in on the Huskers' new weapon.

Will Harris is a college football analyst for ESPN.com.