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College Football DFS: Week 9 DraftKings & FanDuel CFB Picks | Thursday, 10/28/2021

Matt Gajewski



Week 9 action kicks off with a Thursday two-game slate, and DraftKings and FanDuel have great contests for these games. This college football DFS breakdown will look at both teams and provide information about each skill position player of note. Make sure to check out our projections, depth charts and datasheets for more information. With that said, let’s dive into the first iteration of the Week 9 CFB DFS picks for Thursday’s matchup.

College Football DFS: Week 9 Thursday CFB Picks

Troy vs. Coastal Carolina

Troy (17 Implied Total)

Plays/Game – 68.7 (78th)

Pass Rate – 56.55% (14th)

Troy enters this game with a 4-3 record and two straight 3-point wins over Georgia Southern and Texas State. Their losses occurred to Liberty, Louisiana-Monroe and South Carolina. Only the Louisiana-Monroe loss occurred by more than 10 points. Like last year, Troy is passing at one of the highest rates in the country. Their plays per game have fallen from 73 last year, but Troy will try to play with pace when possible. Unfortunately, Coastal Carolina depresses opposing play volume.

After ceding snaps to Taylor Powell ($4,900) earlier in season, Gunnar Watson ($5,200) has regained his starting job as Troy’s starting quarterback. Neither quarterback is mobile, but both benefit from Troy’s high volume passing attack. Watson has been very efficient with a 72.9% completion percentage and 7.4 yards per attempt. He also has three touchdowns and no interceptions. For reference, Watson has been better than Powell, who completes 66.3% of his passes for 6.5 yards per attempt, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Powell has yet to hit 300 yards this year, but he reached that mark three times last year with another game at 297 yards. Troy has a horrible implied team total, but Watson offers a potential salary relief option here.

At running back Kimani Vidal ($6,500) has re-emerged as Troy’s lead back after missing some time with injury earlier this year. Vidal averages 74 rushing and 13.7 yards receiving per game on 18.3 touches per game. B.J. Smith ($3,500) will handle change of pace duties and he averages 11.7 touches per game himself. Last week, Vidal out-touched Smith 29-12. He also out-snapped him 50-21. Vidal is also very active in the pass game with eight combined targets over Troy’s last two games. Coastal Carolina has been vulnerable on the ground this year, making both backs somewhat viable here.

At receiver freshman Tez Johnson ($5,500) has been excellent to start the year. Johnson averages 56.4 yards receiving on 7.7 targets per game. This equates to a 23.4% target share. Behind Johnson, Reggie Todd ($4,100) has been suspended. indefinitely. Todd averaged 40.4 yards per game on 4.7 targets per game. Luke Whittemore ($3,400) should play an increased role here. He averages 39.1 yards per game on 4.3 targets per game. Jabre Barber ($3,700) has also been involved. Barber has not played as much as the receivers listed above, but he still has a 47% route rate, averaging 4.3 targets per game on the year. Without Todd, he should move into a full-time role. Deyunkrea Lewis ($3,100) technically plays the most at tight end, but Troy will utilize a rotation with A.J. Lewis ($3,000). However, this team uses four wide receivers on a majority of snaps. Deshon Stoudemire ($3,000) will work in occasionally as the WR4. He averages two targets per game over Troy’s last four.

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Coastal Carolina (36.25 Implied Total)

Plays/Game – 63.2 (125th)

Pass Rate – 38.52% (115th)

Coastal Carolina enters this game fresh off their first loss of the season by a score of 30-27 to Appalachian State. Playing one of the easiest schedules in College Football, Coastal Carolina beat Kansas, Buffalo, UMass, Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas State on their path a 6-1 record. Like last year, Coastal Carolina continues to play extremely slow, run-heavy football behind their power option scheme.

Grayson McCall ($9,000) continues to quarterback Coastal Carolina with solid efficiency. McCall has not rushed as much in 2021 with just 76 cumulative yards rushing. Last year, he rushed for 569 yards, giving him upside for more volume on the ground at some point this season. As a passer, McCall averages 252.7 yards per game on just 19 attempts. McCall is currently completing 77.3% of his passes for a ridiculous 13.4 yards per pass attempt. McCall has yet to hit even 25 pass attempts in a game this year, giving him a lower floor than people expect. However, with his efficiency, rushing ability and massive implied team total, McCall is still the best quarterback play on the two-game slate.

At running back Coastal Carolina will utilize a two-man committee featuring Reese White ($5,000) and Shermari Jones ($7,000). Both players saw 12 touches last week and this backfield comes down to a pure 50/50 timeshare. Jones has been more efficient, averaging 86.4 yards per game on 11.6 touches. White averages 79.4 yards rushing per game on 10.6 attempts. Braydon Bennett ($3,800) will play occasionally as a change of pace back, but White and Jones are the priority plays here. Jones is the bigger back standing 6-1, 220 pounds, while White checks in at 5-10, 195-pound. Even at a smaller size, White is still the better price adjusted play, given the savings. Both are viable here.

At receiver Jaivon Heiligh ($7,300) continues to function as Coastal Carolina’s alpha receiver. He averages 96.6 yards per game on just 6.4 targets. While this is a low volume offense, Heiligh continues to produce on pure efficiency. His 45 total targets equate to a 28.3% target share. Behind him, tight end Isaiah Likely ($7,700) saw just two targets after his immense nine-target, 200-yard receiving game. He still ranks second on the team, seeing 5.3 targets per game and 77.9 yards receiving. Kameron Brown ($4,600) is the true WR2, averaging 3.4 targets and 49.4 yards receiving per game. Coastal Carolina uses plenty of two tight end sets with run blocker T.J. Ivy. That renders Greg Latushko ($3,000) and Tyson Mobley ($3,500) pure GPP plays. Splitting time as the WR3, Latushko played 10 snaps to Mobley’s nine last week. Neither saw a target against Appalachian State. There is no way Heiligh should be cheaper than Likely entering this game. He is the better price-adjusted play.

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South Florida vs. East Carolina

South Florida (24.25 Implied Total)

Plays/Game – 71.2 (60th)

Pass Rate – 38.64% (114th)

Now 2-5, South Florida’s only two wins occurred against Florida A&M and Temple. South Florida lost to North Carolina State, Florida, BYU, SMU and Tulsa with one of the more difficult schedules in football. They kept BYU and Tulsa within single digits. South Florida is both slower and run-heavier than last year. Much of this comes down to quarterback play with Timmy McClain functioning as a dual threat. Last year, South Florida threw the ball 51.4% of the time, while running 76.6 plays per game. Still, they have been inefficient, averaging just 21.5 points per game (102nd).

Taking over the offense for Cade Fortin ($5,100), McClain ($5,700) has elite dual-threat ability, with 217 cumulative yards on the year. As a passer, McClain completes 56.9% of his passes for 7.7 yards per pass attempt, easily out-playing Fortin. Still, McClain has not shown an elite ceiling and will occasionally cede snaps to Fortin or Katravis Marsh. McClain only has one game above 200 yards passing this year and two above 40 yards rushing. McClain has the tools for an elite ceiling, but he has yet to put it together in an individual game this year. McClain is battling an ankle injury heading into this contest. Monitor him during pregame. Fortin would likely start in his place. He would be a major downgrade.

At running back South Florida will use a timeshare to some degree, but Jaren Mangham ($6,300) continues to lead the group with 98 touches on the year. He averages just 61.7 yards per game on 14 touches. However, this comes with massive upside, including two games with 25+ carries in two of their last four games. With that said, Brian Battie ($3,200) and Kelley Joiner ($4,000), each play a change of pace role. Battie averages 6.4 touches per game, compared to 5.7 touches for Joiner. East Carolina does allow 152.7 yards rushing per game, giving their options some viability here. Mangham is the only true option from this ground and could make sense in some GPP builds.

At receiver Xavier Weaver ($4,800) missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury. His status has not been updated, but he averages 63.3 yards per game on 7.7 targets. When healthy, he is an excellent option. Without Weaver, Jimmy Horn Jr. ($3,900) stepped up to receiver eight targets. Horn has seen a role increase over the last few weeks. He averages 3.4 targets per game on the year, but 5.7 targets over their last three games. With Weaver out, Omarion Dollison ($3,400) and Demarcus Gregory ($3,600) rounded out the receiving room. Dollison averages 2.3 targets per game over their last four, compared to three for Gregory. At tight end, Mitchell Brinkman ($3,000) continues to play a majority of the team’s snaps, despite failing to record a target last week. He only averages 1.4 targets per game either way. One player seeing increased opportunity is Yusuf Terry ($3,000). Terry battled injury earlier in the year but has now seen his route rate jump to 40% last week. Terry has two targets in each of the last two games. If his role continues to increase, he could be worth a look in GPPs. With a healthy McClain, Weaver and Horn would offer decent GPP appeal.

East Carolina (33.25 Implied Total)

Plays/Game – 77.2 (16th)

Pass Rate – 52.48% (34th)

East Carolina enters this game with a 3-4 record, including wins over Marshall, Charleston Southern and Tulane. Their losses occurred to Appalachian State, South Carolina, UCF and Houston. Every loss except Appalachian State occurred by single digits, making this one of the trickiest games to evaluate. While East Carolina has struggled with efficiency at times, the Pirates are still very pass heavy and uptempo.

Veteran quarterback Holton Ahlers ($8,700) will continue lead this East Carolina offense. Concerningly, Ahlers’ rushing volume has dropped every season. Ahlers went from 592 and 359 yards in his first two years to 109 yards last year. This year, he has just 21 cumulative yards rushing, making him dependent on his passing volume. Through the air, he averages 252 yards on 34.6 attempts per game. As a passer, Ahlers is completing 60.3% of his passes for 7.4 yards per attempt. With this volume, Ahlers has been over 280 yards on four occasions this year, but he has only eclipsed 300 yards one time. However, East Carolina has a solid implied team total, making Ahlers a solid option on this slate.

At running back East Carolina uses a pure timeshare between Keaton Mitchell ($6,100) and Rahjai Harris ($4,200). East Carolina will often use the hot hand approach with this committee, but both backs have exactly 88 carries on the year. Mitchell has been far more efficient with 117.2 yards per game on 15.1 touches. Harris averages 66.4 yards per game on 15.4 touches. South Florida allows 213 yards rushing per game, making both of these players solid options. Mitchell is the preferred play based on efficiency.

In the receiver room, Tyler Snead ($5,900) averages 67.9 yards per game on 7.6 targets as the team’s alpha. Behind him, C.J. Johnson ($4,500) averages 37.6 yards per game on 5.9 targets. However, Johnson has seen his role drop in recent weeks. Johnson has not eclipsed 53% of the routes in either of the last two weeks, while Audie Omotosho ($4,300) has participated in 100% of the routes in back-to-back weeks. Over the last four weeks, Omotosho and Johnson both average exactly five targets per game. Behind them, East Carolina uses a tight end time share consisting of Shane Calhoun ($3,300) and Ryan Jones ($4,000). Jones averages 4.3 targets per game over the last four games, making him somewhat viable here. When they rotate four wide, Jsi Hatfield ($3,800) will play, but he only averages 2.3 targets per game in East Carolina’s last three games.

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Check out our industry-leading FanDuel CFB DFS projections for this week. Alex Baker, the No. 1 DFS player in the world, developed and maintains the DraftKings college football DFS ownership projections. Looking for more DFS CFB DraftKings picks and the best college football DFS picks?

Matt Gajewski graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Economics. Matt has worked in the fantasy industry for the past four years, focusing on DFS and Sports Betting. Matt specializes in NFL, College Football, College Basketball, XFL, and MMA. With GPP victories across the major sports, Matt also qualified for the DraftKings 2020 Sports Betting Championship and won a seat to the College Basketball Tourney Mania final.

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