Week 4 action kicks off with a Thursday showdown slate and DraftKings and FanDuel have great contests for these games. This college football DFS breakdown will look at each team and provide information about each skill position player of note. The highlighted plays per game and pass rates will be from 2020. Make sure to check out our projections, depth charts and datasheets for more information. With that said, let us dive into the first iteration of the Week 4 CFB DFS picks for Friday’s matchup.
College Football DFS: Week 4 Thursday CFB Picks
Marshall vs. Appalachian State
Marshall (24.75 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 70.5 (67th)
Pass Rate – 53.19% (37th)
Marshall enters this game as a 7.5-point underdog with a 2-1 record to open 2021. They picked up convincing wins over Navy and North Carolina Central to start the year before dropping a game to East Carolina last week. Marshall changed head coaches this offseason, but their offensive coordinator Tim Cramsey is still in place. This team has played faster with a higher pass rate to open the year. Last year’s team ran 66.1 plays per game (107th), with a 44.03% pass rate (87th). The roster returned seven starters on offense and eight on defense. This includes a strong offensive line that ranks 15th in pass blocking. This should be fine against a weak Appalachian State pass rush and pass coverage unit.
At quarterback second-year starter Grant Wells ($15,900) continues to perform well. He currently averages 364.3 yards passing per game on 39 attempts. He has eclipsed 300 yards passing in every game this year, while completing 67.2% of his passes. Wells does not have the best mobility, but his volume and efficiency as a passer make him a solid play here.
At running back Rasheen Ali ($15,000) appears to have separated himself from a committee with Sheldon Evans ($7,500). Ali carried the ball 24 times to Evans’ nine in Marshall’s most recent game against East Carolina last week. Ali also has 11 targets in the pass game, making him a solid three-down back. However, Evans will continue to provide a change-of-pace role. He has 26 carries for an inefficient 77 yards to open the year with eight targets in the pass game. Ali has out-gained Evans 291-77 this year.
Receiver has somewhat solidified after Marshall listed a myriad of starters to open the season. Corey Gammage ($12,600), Talik Keaton ($9,600) and Willie Johnson ($7,200) all ran a route on 68% of Marshall’s dropbacks or more last week. Gammage led the way with a 93% route rate. He also saw 14 targets in Week 3 as he paces the team with 33 targets and 351 yards overall. Keaton ranks second on the team in both categories with 194 yards receiving and 18 targets. Johnson is the third receiver with 74 yards and 13 targets. He is tied with receiving tight end Xavier Gaines ($4,200) in targets. Gaines played a major receiving role for this team last year and ranked second on the team in receiving. He only has 13 targets, but he ran a route on 66% of dropbacks last week, making him a nice buy low.
Appalachian State (32.25 Implied Total)
Plays/Game – 68.5 (80th)
Pass Rate – 44.99% (75th)
Another team with some new coaches, Appalachian State also opened the year 2-1. They picked up wins over East Carolina and Elon while losing to Miami by 2 points in Week 2. They have the same head coach, but they hired Frank Ponce to coordinate the offense. It already looks similar to last year after they ran 71.3 plays per game and passed 38.39% of the time. The team returned seven starters on offense overall but lost three starting offensive linemen. This group has taken a slight step back, which could be a problem against a strong Marshall defense. The Herd have generated 36 pressures to open the year.
At quarterback Chase Brice ($14,400) has played well. Brice has some mobility, but he generally relies on his arm. Brice averages 249.3 yards passing per game on 28.7 attempts. Appalachian State will not hesitate to run from positive game script, but Brice has showed solid efficiency. He has completed 69.8% of his passes for 8.7 yards per attempt this season. Both quarterbacks project quite well here, but Wells has more volume on his side.
In the run game Appalachian State will use a two-man committee consisting of Nate Noel ($8,100) and Camerun Peoples ($15,300). Noel has out-carried Peoples 48-42 this season, but Peoples has out-gained Noel 274-249. Noel has slightly more upside as a receiving back with four targets so far. either way, both running backs will see plenty of work due to the overall run-heavy nature of the offense. Noel is a significantly better price-adjusted play, but both are fine.
Appalachian State is generally a low volume passing attack, but the rotation has narrowed in recent weeks. After missing 2020, Corey Sutton ($13,200) ran a route on 92% of Appalachian State dropbacks in Week 2. He also leads the team with a 28.9% target share and 237 yards receiving. Similarly, Thomas Hennigan ($8,700) ran a route on 86% of Appalachian State dropbacks in Week 2. However, Hennigan only has 13 targets on the year. Positively, he turned that volume into 160 yards receiving, making him one of the slate’s top buy-low options. Malik Williams ($10,800) was a distant third with a 69% route tare, followed by Jalen Virgil ($4,800) at 22% and tight end Henry Pearson ($3,000) at 36%. Williams ranks second in targets (14) and yards receiving (183), but his lower route rate raises concerns. Hennigan is a better price-adjusted play, with Virgil and Pearson functioning as tournament CFB DFS picks.
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