Thursday Night College Football
South Alabama @ Georgia Southern -5.5 O/U 51.5
Colorado State -1.5 @ Fresno State O/U 59
South Alabama (23 Implied Team Total)
The Jaguars have rotated Desmond Trotter and Chance Lovertich in at QB over the past few games. Trotter is the classic dual threat QB while Lovertich is the protypical “pro-style” QB. Trotter provides the higher upside and perhaps he’ll finally get the entire game this week after passing 184 yards and 3 TDs in last week’s win over Louisiana-Monroe. The sophomore also ran for 33 yards and 1 TD on 8 attempts. Lovertich completed 3 out of 5 pass attempts for 62 yards and 1 INT (recorded 14 rushing yards). In parts of 4 games, Trotter has completed 46 out of 69 pass attempts for 744 yards, 6 TDs, and 2 INT. He’s also tallied 82 rushing yards and 1 TD on 29 attempts. The matchup with Georgia Southern is above average. The Georgia Southern defense is allowing 238.6 passing yards per game and they’ve surrendered 8 pass TDs in 5 games. In 3 Sun Belt games, Georgia Southern has allowed the following fantasy point totals (most recent 1st): Fred Payton (CC) 23, Colby Suits (ULM) 28, and Levi Lewis (ULL) 15. The South Alabama offense is favoring the run (57.4/42.6 run-pass split) and averages 69 plays per game.
Carlos Davis played through a sore hamstring in last week’s win over ULM. He was held to 58 rushing yards on 17 carries against ULM’s atrocious run defense. The good part about Davis is that he’s received 15+ carries in all 5 games this season. The sophomore has totaled 443 rushing yards and 2 TDs on 97 carries. He also has 7 receptions for 72 yards. Prior to last week’s game, Davis had topped 80 yards rushing in the 1st 4 games (including 2 games over 100-yards rushing). Georgia Southern is lowing a slate low 122.6 rushing yards per game (allowed 6 rush TDs in 4 games). However, they’re allowing 4.17 yards per carry, so Davis is in a pretty decent spot this week. Terrion Avery figures to be the 2nd RB to enter the game. He received a season high 9 carries in last week’s win. However, he’s only received 19 carries through 5 games. The junior has 58 rushing yards and 1 TD this season.
Notable target counts through 5 games: Jalen Tolbert (42), Kawaan Baker (40), Jalen Wayne (22), Carlos Davis (11), Brandon Crum (5), Trent Tyre (5), Cade Sutherland (5), and Terrion Avery (2).
Tolbert and Baker are both having monster seasons. Tolbert has cleared 59 receiving yards in all 5 games this season. In total, the junior has 26 receptions, 486 receiving yards, and 4 TDs. Tolbert starts on the outside (z-receiver) while Baker mans the slot. Baker has at least 4 receptions in all 5 games. The senior has went for 6+ receptions, 129+ receiving yards, and 1+ TD receptions in 2 out of 5 games. He’s racked up 27 receptions, 443 receiving yards, and 6 TDs through 5 games. While he hasn’t been utilized in the running game much this season (2 carries for 8 yards), Baker carried they ball 79 times over the last 2 seasons (334 rushing yards and 11 TDs). Wayne is the other starting WR and he starts on the outside as the X-receiver. The clear 3rd option in the passing game, Wayne has 15 receptions for 222 yards and 1 TD through 5 games. Wayne was held out of the box score in last week’s win; he did not draw a single target. Georgia Southern allowed their 1st 100-yard pass catcher in their last game to perimeter WR Javon Heiligh (5/107/0) of Coastal Carolina. They also struggled to defend the middle of the field at ULM TEs went for 8/118/0 in Game 4. That suggests both Baker and Tolbert should be in decent spots on Thursday night.
With this week’s opponent, Georgia Southern, running the pistol option offense, they tend to keep the total number of plays down which isn’t great for DFS purposes.
In 2020 (5 games), South Alabama is 76th in passing yards allowed with 273.2 yards/game. They are 43rd in rushing yards allowed with 134.8 yards/game. The defense has given up 12 TDs on the ground (2.4 TD/game) and 4 TDs through the air (1 TD/game) this season.
Georgia Southern (28.5 Implied Team Total)
Shai Werts is the conductor of Georgia Southern’s pistol option offense. Werts is the Eagles 2nd leading rusher with 333 rushing yards and 4 TDs on 60 carries. He’s thrown for 558 yards, 5 TDs, and 3 INT through 5 games. The senior has attempted 20 or fewer passes in all 5 games; he’s recorded at least 10 rushing attempts in 4 out of 5 games. While South Alabama has been pretty good against the run in terms of yardage allowed (134.8 rushing yards allowed per game, 3.9 yards per carry which is best on the slate), they’ve been hammered for 12 rush TDs in 5 games. While Werts doesn’t throw it often, he gets a plus matchup against South Alabama’s pass defense. The Jaguars are allowing 8.38 yards per pass attempt which is a slate high. The Eagles offense favors the run (74/26 run-pass split) and averages 61.6 plays per game.
Former Oklahoma State RB JD King leads the Eagles backfield in carries (87), rushing yards (490), and TD rushes (4). The senior has 15+ carries in 4 out of 5 games. He’s cleared 50 rushing yards in all 4 games (2 games with over 100 yards). He’s found paydirt in 4 out of 5 games this season. The versatile Wesley Kennedy III has tallied 206 rushing yards (3rd leading rusher) and 127 receiving yards (2nd best on the team) in 4 games this season. Kennedy has 3 total TDs this season (all rushing).
Target counts through 5 games: Malik Murray (16), Khaleb Hood (13), Emil Smith (9 – 4 games), Wesley Kennedy III (9 – 4 games), Darion Anderson (6 – 4 games), Beau Johnson (6 – 4 games), Najee Thompson (5), Darius Lewis (3 – 2 games), DJ Butler (3 – 1 game), Dexter Carter Jr. (2- 4 games), Logan Wright (2), JD King (2), and Dillon Springer (1 – 4 games).
Murray is the Eagles leading WR with 9 receptions, 139 receiving yards, and 1 TD. He’s cleared 45 receiving yards in 2 straight games. Beau Johnson is the 3rd pass catcher with 100+ receiving yards this season. The TE has 5/101/2 in 4 games. Hood and DJ Butler are the 2 other pass catchers with at a TD reception. Hood’s 9 receptions in tied for a team high with Murray. The sophomore has at least 1 reception in all 5 games; however, he’s been held under 45 yards in all 5 games. Butler posted 3/22/1 in the season opener but hasn’t played since then. Anderson and Smith are the starting outside WRs with Murray starting in the slot (Hood also plays in the slot). Johnson is the starting TE. When South Alabama has been burned it’s been on the perimeter (UAB’s Watkins 7/183/1 and USM T. Jones 6/139/0). I’d probably favor Smith over Anderson if targeting a perimeter WR; Smith has 7 targets over the last 2 games.
In 2020 (5 games), Georgia Southern is 50th in passing yards allowed with 238.6 yards/game. They are 30th in rushing yards allowed with 122.6 yards/game. The defense has given up 6 TDs on the ground (1.2 TD/game) and 8 TDs through the air (1.6 TD/game) this season.
Colorado State (30.5 Implied Team Total)
There’s some question as to whether incumbent start Patrick O’Brien will start at QB this week. It appears that he may be nursing some of injury. In 9 games last season, he posted game averages of 296.4 passing yards and 1.55 total TDs. the former Nebraska QB attempted at least 29 passes in all 9 games. Colorado State underwent a coach change and hired former Boston College coach Steve Addazio. In Addazio’s last season at Boston College, he relied heavily upon the running game (68.3/31.7 run-pass split). I should also note that Addazio also had battering ram AJ Dillon in his backfield. Reportedly, CSU will still incorporate the downfield passing game to take advantage of their talented WRs. To sum it up, they won’t throw as much as last season, but they also won’t run it as much as Addazio teams typically do so it’ll likely be a blend this season. That said, the matchup with Fresno State is a good spot for the O’Brien and the passing game. If O’Brien can’t go, then Todd Centeio would likely start. The former Temple QB completed 48 out of 71 career pass attempts for 613 yards, 7 TDs, and 1 INT. He also ran for 235 yards and 1 TD on 71 carries. Most notably, Temple used Centeio as a change of pace QB last season. He’d come in for Anthony Russo and primarily run the ball. He’s in play if O’Brien is out. The Bulldogs allowed 8.38 yards per pass attempt in their season opener against a re-vamped Hawaii offense. The only drawback is that Fresno State was trucked by Hawaii’s running game (323 rushing yards allowed and 4 TDs); CSU could take to the ground and try to replicate Hawaii’s success by using McElroy and the RBs a ton this week. However, CSU favored the pass (53/47 pass-run split) in 2019 and averaged 70 plays per game.
Marcus McElroy Jr will likely start at RB with Christian Hunter being the 1st RB off the bench. McElroy ran for 370 yards and 3 TDs on 80 carries in a reserve last season. The senior pounded Fresno State for 18/117/2 a season ago. Hunter played in 10 games as a freshman in 2019. He ran for 99 yards and 1 TD on 24 carries last season. As noted above this is a phenomenal spot for the Rams’ backfield.
The starting WRs are Nate Craig-Myers, EJ Scott, and Dante Wright. These 3 will be tasked with replacing star WR Warren Jackson 77/1,119/8 on 120 targets in 10 games). Wright is the most intriguing amongst the 3 as he’s blessed with track-star speed. The versatile WR racked up 57 receptions, 803 receiving yards, and 4 TDs on 80 targets. He was also utilized in the run game last season. The sophomore ran for 214 yards and 2 TDs on 17 carries. Wright had 4+ receptions in 10 out of 12 games in 2019. CSU media has speculated that we may see Wright in the backfield a few times in the season opener. Craig-Myers if a former Auburn Tiger. He posted 23/329/1 in 9 games last season. The senior was held under 20 receiving yards over his final 6 games last season. EJ Scott had 15 receptions, 255 receiving yards, and 1 TD on 3 targets in 10 games last season.
Trey McBride is the starting TE and he was one of the most productive TEs in the country last season. The senior hauled in 45 balls for 560 receiving yards and 4 TDs on in 54 targets in 12 games last season. CSU QB’s posted a 119.1 passer rating when targeting McBride which was a team high. The junior ended the season by catching 6+ balls in each of the last 3 games. He’s a solid option right behind Wright in the passing game.
In 2019 (12 games), CSU was 7th in passing yards allowed with 181.6 yards/game. They were 104th in rushing yards allowed with 195.8 yards/game. The defense gave up 23 TDs on the ground (1.92 TD/game) and 19 TDs through the air (1.58 TD/game) last season.
Fresno State (29 Implied Team Total)
Jake Haener will start at QB for Fresno State. The first time starter completed 17 out of 31 pass attempts for 289 yards, 1 TD, and 3 INT in last week’s 34-19 loss to Hawaii. The junior also ran for 37 yards on 13 attempts. Haener sat out the 2019 season after transferring from Washington. The matchup with Colorado State should dictate that Fresno State takes a run-heavy approach. The Rams were 7th in passing yards allowed last season (181.6 passing yards allowed per game and 6.9 yards per attempt). CSU yielded 19 pass TDs in 12 games in 2019. Meanwhile, the Rams were destroyed via the running (more on that below). Fresno State’s offense favored the run (55.3/44.7 run-pass split) and averaged 63.9 plays per game last season.
Ronnie Rivers is the Bulldogs starting RB. Rivers was held to 79 rushing yards and 1 TD on 18 attempts in last week’s season opening loss. The senior plays well in both the passing and running games. Rivers ran for 899 yards and 13 TDs on 177 carries last season. He also tallied up 43 receptions for 348 yards and 3 TDs. He’s in a great spot this week as the Rams were blowtorched by enemy ball carriers last season. Colorado State allowed a crisp 4.75 rushing yards per carry. In total, they allowed 195.8 rushing yards per game and surrendered 23 rush TDs in only 12 games. Jordan Mims is the backup RB. He ran for 15 yards on 2 carries while also catch 2 passes for 8 yards in the season opener. He ran for 436 yards and 6 TDs in 2019 (also caught 21 passes for 286 yards and 2 TDs).
Target counts from the season opener: Erik Brooks (8), Keric Wheatfall (6), Jalen Cropper (4), Juan Rodriguez (4), Josh Kelly (3), Chris Coleman (2), Jordan Mims (2), Jamal Glaspie (1), and Ronnie Rivers (1).
Zane Pope (47/525/1 in 2019 – top returning pass catcher) and Emoryie Edwards (22/240/2) were expected to be significant contributors in the passing game but both guys missed the season opener. Pope posted on twitter that he’ll be out for a few weeks and hopes to be back sometime this season. Edward’s status for this week is unknown. Wheatfall started the season opener as the X-receiver while Coleman OR Josh Kelly were listed as the starting Z-receiver. Jalen Cropper was the starting slot WR in the season opener. Wheatful posted a team best 73 receiving yards on 3 receptions. He’s the 2nd leading returning WR from last season (Pope is the top returning pass catcher from 2019). Wheatful posted 17/307/1 in 2019 and figures to be the top option in the Fresno State passing game. Brooks caught 3 out of his team high 8 targets for 46 yards. Cropper managed 2/21/0 while Coleman caught his 1 ball for 51 yards. Cropper wasn’t involved in the running game in Game 1, but he did run for 343 yards and 3 TDs on 20 carries last season (15/196/0 in the receiving game). To sum it up, Wheatful is probably the best WR to target followed by Cropper. Brooks (1 reception for 7 yards last season) is also a fine target after drawing 8 targets in the season opener.
Juan Rodriguez is the starting TE and he caught Haener’s lone TD pass in the season opener (3/24/1). He replaces the productive Jared Rice; Rice had 32/307/4 as the starting TE in 2019.
In 2020 (1 game), Fresno State is 46th in passing yards allowed with 229 yards/game. They are 100th in rushing yards allowed with 323 yards/game. The defense has given up 4 TDs on the ground (4 TD/game) and 0 TDs through the air (0 TD/game) this season.
Target counts pulled from Pro Football Focus