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Ten Preseason Heisman Trophy favorites to watch

Keep an eye on these players this season.

2015 Heisman Trophy Presentation Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

It is that time of year when we make predictions about who wins awards and what team makes it the furthest. Since last year Leonard Fournette was the favorite with 1/3 odds and Derrick Henry won with 25/1, you might be tempted to skip this article. But here’s why you should read this: I will give the 10 guys I think have the best shot of winning which will give you a few players to watch closely this year.

10. Jabrill Peppers - Michigan

This is my dark horse to win the Heisman, because he plays everywhere at the blistering speed of a 4.34 40 time. Last season he played safety, returned punts and kicks, as well as had 151 yards from scrimmage on both rushing and receiving. Coming into this season there is talk of him spending time at linebacker as well, and if he can get more time on the offense he has an opportunity to put up crazy numbers. The problem is he is a defensive player first, which makes him a long shot.

9. JuJu Smith-Shuster - USC

I know that only two wide receivers have ever won the Heisman, in large part because they really only get the ball a few times a week. However, Smith is coming off an amazing season and will be a veteran receiver for a new starting quarterback. He has another shot for a huge season and maybe a Heisman chance.

8. Nick Chubb - Georgia

Chubb is a stud running back who is low on most lists because of the horrific knee injury sustained last season. But, at the top of his game he is one of the most dangerous running backs, who also has the size to be an every down back that can rush between the tackles. With a new head coach, however, there is a possibility for system changes which could affect his production.

7. Josh Rosen - UCLA

Rosen was impressive last year, throwing for of 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns as a true freshman. In his first year he dealt with a lot of pressure, but because of his unparalleled passing ability he was able to lead his team to a positive win record. Now he is primed with a more complete defense and a year under his belt. If he can compensate for losing his starting running back then he has a Heisman shot.

6. Chad Kelly - Ole’ Miss

Kelly exploded after his first season at Ole’ Miss with 4,000 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. He also had 500 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Despite the high number of interceptions, he is still one of the top tier quarterbacks in college football. He will be a contender all year long.

5. Royce Freeman - Oregon

Freeman had over 1,800 yards last season because of his explosion in open space. He has been able to thrive in a system that lives on pitches and running back screens as well as option plays. Unfortunately his defense is what might hold him back, as Oregon could be playing in more than a few shootouts this year, taking carries away from him.

4. Dalvin Cook - Florida State

Cook had over 1,000 yards rushing despite the injuries he had late in the season. He is explosive and is terrific after contact. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry and will be in the same offense that was built for the running game. He is one of the top three elite running backs who are expected to be jousting for the trophy. His biggest problem will be fighting past the highly anticipated stars left on this list.

2. Leonard Fournette - LSU

We all saw this guy last year: He tore through defensive fronts, and stunned the country with his combination of size and speed. Then he ran into Alabama, and his Heisman campaign crumbled. Last year is proof that much like trying to make the college playoffs, trying to win the Heisman requires an almost perfect season and any bust games throw players out of contention. Now he is back and primed to make another run with a LSU team that is predicted to be better than last season.

2. DeShaun Watson - Clemson

The first quarterback ever to have 4,109 passing yards and 1,105 rushing yards has his sights firmly set on the Heisman and the championship. He is the best quarterback in the country and will be a top three draft pick if he chooses to go to the NFL next year. He also will have almost all of his offense returning around him this season. If anyone has the best surrounding conditions to succeed it is Watson.

1. Christian McCaffrey - Stanford

He will be up against the likes of Cook, Fournette and Watson. He is in an offense in flux. But McCaffrey still has the best shot because he will touch the ball more than any other running back he will go against. He is a running back first, who gets tons of time as a receiver and returner. Now a new quarterback will lean heavily on the star athlete to run the offense, and McCaffrey is in perfect position to bust out monster numbers.

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