Wednesday Night MACtion

Northern Illinois @ Ball State -15 O/U 62

Toledo -7 @ Eastern Michigan O/U 61

Western Michigan -1 @ Central Michigan O/U 59.5

Northern Illinois (23.5 Implied Team Total)
QB Ross Bowers has struggled behind an inadequate offensive line. The senior has completed 33 out of 60 pass attempts for 341 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT through 2 games. Bowers was replaced by the mobile Rodney Thompson in last week’s loss. However, Thompson sustained an injury and Bowers was forced back into action. Thompson’s status for this week is unknown (34 passing yards and 20 rushing yards and 1 TD on 6 carries). I will note that NIU has faced off with arguably the top 2 defenses in the MAC (CMU and Buffalo). This week’s matchup with Ball State represents a bounce back opportunity. The Cardinals are allowing 269 passing yards per game including an ugly 8.82 yards per pass attempt (2nd most on the slate). Ball State has allowed point totals of 38 and 31 this season (MIAOH/EMU). QBs facing off with Ball State have accounted for 7 total TDs through 2 games. The NIU offense is favoring the run (54.4/45.6 run-pass split) and averages 73.5 plays per game.

Erin Collins has started at RB in NIU’s 2 games this season. He’s received 15 and 16 carries, respectively. However, he’s been held under 50 rushing yards in both games. As noted above, NIU’s offensive line has struggled. In total, Collins leads NIU with 92 rushing yards and 1 TD on 31 carries (2/3/0 receiving). Collins shares the backfield with Harrison Waylee. The freshman has received 10+ carries in both games this season. He’s run for 89 yards on 23 carries (0/0/0 receiving). Ball State has struggled defending the run this season. They’re allowing 180.5 rushing yards including a crisp 4.35 yards per carry. The Cardinals have been crushed for 5 rushing TDs in 2 games (tied for slate high).

Target counts through 2 games: Cole Tucker (19), Tyrice Ritchie (17), Trayvon Rudolph (8), Daniel Crawford (5), Dennis Robinson (4), Erin Collins (4), Mohamed Toure (3), Fabian McCray (2), Messiah Travis (1 – 1 game), Rondarius Gregory (1), and Harrison Waylee (1).

Ritchie, Tucker, and Rudolph are the starting WRs. Ritchie leads the Huskies with 17 receptions and 170 receiving yards through 2 games. He’s posted 10/100/0 and 7/70/0 this season. Tucker has drawn 9+ targets and caught 3+ balls in both games this season. Tucker and Ritchie were the top 2 returning pass catchers from 2019. Rudolph had drawn 4 targets in each of the 1st 2 games (3/62/0). The TE, Crawford, is off to a slow start in 2020 (4/18/0). The senior posted 37/443/2 last season. He’s in a good spot this week as Ball State allowed 4/39/2 to Miami-OH TEs and 7/104/1 to EMU TEs. Lastly, Dennis Robinson caught the lone TD pass in last week’s blowout loss (1/31/1 on 2 targets). Ball State has also struggled with perimeter WRs (Jack Sorenson MIAOH 7/139/0 and Tanner Knue EMU 8/121/0). Unfortunately, the NIU depth chart doesn’t designate which WR positions the NIU players line up at nor have I watched NIU this season so I’m not sure which WR is in the best spot here.

In 2020 (2 games), NIU is 40th in passing yards allowed with 213.5 yards/game. They are 80th in rushing yards allowed with 181.5 yards/game. The defense has given up 5 TDs on the ground (2.5 TD/game) and 4 TDs through the air (2 TD/game) this season.

Ball State (38.5 Implied Team Total)
Drew Plitt played in awful in Ball State’s close win over EMU last week. The dual threat QB completed 22 out of 31 pass attempts for 232 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. He also recorded -19 rushing yards. I’m expecting him to bounce back this week against a terrible NIU defense. The Huskies coughed 40 points to CMU and 49 points to Buffalo in the last 2 weeks. NIU is allowing 213.5 passing yards including an eye-popping 11.24 yards per pass attempt (slate high). They’ve surrendered 4 TD passes in 2 games. The only path I could see Plitt having a bad DFS game is that Ball State could, in theory, pound star RB Caleb Huntley 30+ times (like last week). NIU is also awful against the run (more on that below). The Ball State offense is favoring the run (57.3/42.7 run-pass split) and averages 76 plays per game.

Caleb Huntley has carried the Ball State offense through their 1st 2 games this season. The senior posted 34/204/3 against EMU last week and 21/130/2 against Miami-Ohio in the season opener. He has 1 reception for 13 yards. Huntley has carried the ball 20+ times in 5 straight games; he’s cleared 100-rushing yards in 6 straight games dating back to 2019. Huntley has 2+ TD rushes in 4 straight games. He’s easily RB1 on Wednesday night. Will Jones is Huntley’s backup and the junior has 9 carries for 52 yards this season. NIU has been slaughtered by enemy ball carriers this season. The Huskies are allowing 181.5 rushing yards per game including 4.84 yards per carry. They’ve ceded 5 rushing TDs through 2 games.

Target counts through 2 games: Justin Hall (19), Yo’Heinz Tyler (18), Antwan Davis (16), Cody Rudy (3), Will Jones (1), Caleb Huntley (1), Hassan Littles (1), and Trevor Hohlt (1).

The Ball State WRs are interesting DFS plays since the targets are concentrated amongst the 3 starters (Tyler, Hall, and Davis). Hall has 4+ receptions in 8 out of the last 9 games, dating back to 2019. The senior leads the Cardinals with 184 receiving yards. He has 11 receptions, 1 of which resulted in a TD. Tyler has drawn 8+ targets, caught 4+ balls, and cleared 60 receiving yards in both games this season. Him and Hall were named to the preseason All MAC teams by Pro Football Focus. Davis has 6 receptions in each of the 1st 2 games. QB Plitt is posting a 108.2 passer rating when targeting Hall, 81.9 when targeting Tyler, and 108.3 when targeting Davis. All 3 guys are solid plays. Rudy, the TE, has 2 receptions for 16 yards through 2 games. Hall led all pass catchers with 4/94/2 against CMU in their 2019 matchup.

In 2020 (2 games), Ball State is 101st in passing yards allowed with 269 yards/game. They are 78th in rushing yards allowed with 180.5 yards/game. The defense has given up 5 TDs on the ground (2.5 TD/game) and 4 TDs through the air (2 TD/game) this season.

Toledo (34 Implied Team Total)
Eli Peters has thrown 32+ passes in each of the Rockets 1st 2 games. The senior has thrown for 553 yards, 5 TDs, and 1 INT this season. The matchup with EMU is solid for Toledo’s passing game but even better for Toledo’s running game (more on that below). The Eagles are allowing 225.5 passing yards per game including 7.39 yards per pass attempt (3rd most on the slate). EMU has been beaten for 3 TD passes in 2 games. The Toledo offense is favoring the run (53.8/46.2 run-pass split) and averages 84.5 plays per game.

The Rockets are led by Bryant Koback in the backfield. Koback has received 21+ carries and topped 74 rushing yards in each of the 1st 2 games. He’s also an active participant in the passing game as he’s tallied 11 receptions, 111 receiving yards, and 1 TD. Backfield mate, Shakif Seymour, has a rushing TD in both games this season. He carried the ball 3 times for 34 yards in last week’s loss but was noticeably absent in the 2nd half. Reportedly, he was drained from a family death and was held out of the second half. He will reportedly play this week. The senior eclipsed 850 total yards and scored 6 TDs in 2019. Micah Kelly mixed in with Koback with Seymour unavailable in the 2nd half. Kelly ran for 69 yards and 1 TD on 8 carries against WMU last week. He also caught 2 balls for 17 yards. EMU was battered for 204 rushing yards and 3 TDs by Ball State’s RB Caleb Huntley last week. EMU is allowing a mind-boggling 258 rushing yards per game including 5.27 yards per carry (both slate highs). The Eagles have surrendered 5 rushing TDs in 2 games.

Target counts through 2 games: Bryant Koback (12), Bryce Mitchell (11), Isaiah Winstead (10), Devin Maddox (9), Danzel McKinley-Lewis (8), Jamal Turner (7), Jerjuan Newton (5), Ronnie Blackmon (5), Micah Kelly (4), Drew Rosi (3), Shakif Seymour (2), and Jacquez Stuart (1 – 1 game).

The starting WRs on the depth chart this week are Mitchell (z), McKinley-Lewis (x), and Maddox (slot). However, Toledo rotates a ton of WRs as Newton (2nd X), Blackmon (slot backup), and Winstead (2nd z) all see significant playing time. Mitchell was the Rockets’ top returning pass catcher from 2019. He’s drawn target counts of 6 and 5 this season. He has 5 receptions, 94 receiving yards, and 1 TD. Maddox leads the Rockets with 2 TD receptions (7/62/2). Winstead trails only RB Koback with 110 receiving yards (6 receptions and 0 TDs). McKinley-Lewis has 6 receptions for 32 yards. Newton has posted 5/65/1 and Blackmon checks in with 4/29/0. EMU has struggled with perimeter WRs (8/104/1 to Kent’s McCoy and 11/133/1 to Ball State perimeters WRs Davis and Tyler).

In 2020 (2 games), Toledo is 34th in passing yards allowed with 206 yards/game. They are 45th in rushing yards allowed with 146 yards/game. The defense has given up 3 TDs on the ground (1.5 TD/game) and 3 TDs through the air (1.5 TD/game) this season.

Eastern Michigan (27 Implied Team Total)
Preston Hutchinson was last week’s slate breaker as he threw for 250 yards and 1 TD while also running for 104 yards and 3 TDs in EMU’s 38-31 loss to Ball State. He’s worth a look once again this week (and will be popular after last week) as Toledo struggled against WMU’s QB Kaleb Eleby last week. Eleby threw for 284 yards and 3 TDs while also adding 2 rushing TDs (-2 total rushing yards). The EMU offense favors the run (53.3/46.7 run-pass split) and averages 68.5 plays per game.

Starting RB Darius Boone was injured in the season opener and missed last week’s game. He ran for 68 yards on 9 carries in the season opener. Boone is listed as 4th string RB on this week’s depth chart Samson Evans started in Boone’s place and ran for 63 yards on 14 carries (1/17/0 receiving). Evans transferred to EMU from Iowa so presumably he should succeed in the MAC. He’s listed a top the depth this week for whatever that’s worth. The matchup with Toledo’s run defense is solid. The Rockets are allowing 4.87 yards per carry. They were beat up by WMU for 153 rushing yards and 3 TDs in last week’s game (not even considering BGSU a real opponent which they hosted in their season opener).

Target counts through 2 games: Tanner Knue (19), Hassan Beydoun (12 – 1 game), Quian Williams (9), Bryson Cannon (7 – 1 game), Aaron Jackson (7), Thomas Odukoya (4), Samson Evans (2 – 1 game), DJ Smith (1), Gunner Oakes (1), Darius Boone (1), and Donivan Wright (1).

Q. Williams is listed as the starting X-receiver with Dylan Drummond listed as the starting Z-receiver. Hassan Beydoun is listed as the starting slot WR. I’m not sure I put a ton of stock into this as Drummond has been listed as a starter for each of the 1st 2 games but hasn’t suited up this season (something to monitor pre-game). Bryson Cannon would likely start at the Z (listed as Drummond’s backup) if Drummond can’t go this week. Cannon missed the season opener but went for 5/76/1 in last week’s loss to Ball State. Leading WR Tanner Knue is listed as Q. Williams backup in the X. Knue has drawn 8+ targets in each game this season. He leads the team with 12 receptions and 166 receiving yards. Thomas Odukoya is listed as the starting TE. He’s a TD dependent play; he has 4 receptions, 36 receiving yards, and 2 TDs through 2 games. Beydoun posted 9/112/0 in the season opener but was sidelined for last week’s game. Jent Joseph is listed as the backup slot WR but he drawn 0 targets in 1 game played this season. Toledo coughed up 7/131/1 to WMU’s Dwayne Eskridge and 2/21/1 to WMU’s Jaylen Hall on the perimeter and 3/85/1 to slot WR Sky Moore (Beydoun’s spot).

In 2020 (2 games), EMU is 51st in passing yards allowed with 225.5 yards/game. They are 120th in rushing yards allowed with 258 yards/game. The defense has given up 5 TDs on the ground (2.5 TD/game) and 3 TDs through the air (1.5 TD/game) this season.

Western Michigan (30.5 Implied Team Total)
Kaleb Eleby has thrown for 262+ yards and 3 TDs in each of the 1st 2 games this season. He’s also tallied 2 rushing TDs (4 rushing yards, he’s not really a runner but can make plays if necessary with his legs). This week’s matchup with CMU is relatively neutral. The ‘Chips were throttled for 231 passing yards and 2 TDs by Ohio’s 1st time starter Kurtis Rourke in the season opener. They held NIU QBs to 170 passing yards and 1 TD in last week’s 40-10. CMU is allowing 7.34 yards per pass attempt which isn’t great so Eleby makes for a fine option this week. He’ll likely have to make plays in the passing game if WMU hopes to win this week. WMU has 2 of the best WRs in the MAC (Eskridge and Moore). CMU has been stout against the run (more on that below). The WMU offense is favoring the run (58.3/41.7 run-pass split) and averages 57.5 plays per game. He’ll likely carry less ownership than Plitt and Hutchinson.

The Broncos operate a 3-man RBBC backfield. Sean Tyler played a majority of the snaps in the 2nd half of last week’s game due to injuries to both La’Darius Jefferson and Jaxson Kincaide. The sophomore ran for 100 yards on 12 carries against Toledo. In total, he’s run for 168 yards and 1 TD while also catching 10 balls for 58 yards. MSU transfer La’Darius Jefferson ran for 34 yards on 9 carries early in last week’s game but missed the 2nd half with an injury. Jefferson has 104 rushing yards and 1 TD on 18 carries this season. Jaxson Kincaide has a rushing TD in each of the 1st 2 games. However, he only received 1 carry last week after running 7 times in the season opener. He sustained an injury last week. Both guys are should be available this week. Jefferson will likely carry little to no ownership and makes for a decent tournament play if it’s confirmed that he’s playing. The matchup with CMU is brutal though. The ‘Chips are holding opposing runners to 92 rushing yards per game including a paltry 2.67 yards per carry. They’ve allowed 1 rushing TD in 2 games.

Target counts through 2 games: Dwayne Eskridge (14), Sean Tyler (10), Skyy Moore (10), Jaylen Hall (6), DaShon Bussell (3), Luke Sanders (1), Cam Cooper (1), Jaxson Kincaide (1), and Brett Borske (1).

Eskridge and Moore rarely leave the field. Eskridge has been a beast in 2020. The senior posted 3/114/2 against Akron in the season opener. He followed that performance up with a 7/131/1 stat line against Toledo. Slot man Moore was the top returning pass catcher from 2019 (51/802/3). He has 6 receptions, 118 receiving yards, and 1 TD through 2 games. Bussell started on the outside opposite of Eskridge but seemingly was outsnapped by rotation mate, Hall, in last week’s game. Hall has a TD reception in both games (3/89/2 this season). Bussell is a risky option but he’s a threat to score any time he touches the ball (28/447/2 last season). The junior has 1 reception for 11 yards through 2 games in 2020. CMU was smoked by Ohio’s slot man Isaiah Cox for 4/102/1 in their season opener (Moore’s spot).

In 2020 (2 games), WMU is 58th in passing yards allowed with 232.5 yards/game. They are 45th in rushing yards allowed with 146 yards/game. The defense has given up 4 TDs on the ground (2 TD/game) and 2 TDs through the air (1 TD/game) this season.

Central Michigan (29 Implied Team Total)
Daniel Richardson will presumably make his 3rd straight start with David Moore stuck in NCAA limbo. Richardson has accounted for 2 TDs in each of the 1st 2 games. On tap is a matchup with in-state rival WMU. WMU has been solid against the pass this season. They’re holding opposing QBs to 5.96 yards per pass attempt. I will note that that includes a matchup with Akron. WMU allowed 339 passing yards and 1 TD to Toledo’s Peters. He did throw 46 passes in that matchup. WMU has allowed 2 TD passes in 2 games. Richardson is a fine play as CMU is carrying a huge implied team total this week. The CMU offense is favoring the run (59.3/40.7 run-pass split) and averages 75 plays per game.

Star RB Kobe Lewis has run for 171 yards and 3 TDs on 44 carries through 2 games (5/34/0 receiving). Emerging freshman Lew Nichols II has run for 122 yards and 1 TD on 21 carries. He’s received 9+ carries in both games (6/88/1 receiving). The matchup with WMU’s run defense is solid. The Broncos are allowing 4.11 yards per carry to enemy ball carriers. They allowed 162 rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs to Toledo ball carriers in last week’s win (3 different RBs found paydirt).

Target counts through 2 games: Khalil Pimpleton (16), JaCorey Sullivan (10), Dallas Dixon (9), Kobe Lewis (8), Tyrone Scott (7), Lew Nichols II (6), Oakley Lavalli (1), and Drayton Law (1).

Sullivan started on the outside with Scott and Dixon rotating at the other perimeter spot. Pimpleton starts in the slot. Pimpleton has 4+ receptions in 12 out of his last 13 games, dating back to 2019. The junior has 10 total receptions, 100 receiving yards, and 1 TD through 2 games (82/899/6 last season). Sullivan has lacked chemistry with QB Richardson (67.3 passer rating when targeting Sullivan); he has 5 receptions for 56 yards this season (57/808/3 last season). Dixon has 3 receptions and has cleared 40 receiving yards in both games this season. Scott is off to a slow start as he has 4 receptions for 35 yards in 2 games (42/690/5 last season). QB Richardson has a 107.2 passer rating when targeting Dixon, 101.0 when targeting Pimpleton, and 70.5 when targeting Scott, per Pro Football Focus. Western Michigan seems to struggle with the Z-receiver (Toledo Z receivers went for 6/132/0 last week) while the slot WR was the only pass catcher to find the end zone (Toledo’s Maddox went for 4/33/1).

In 2020 (2 games), CMU is 31st in passing yards allowed with 202.5 yards/game. They are 9th in rushing yards allowed with 92 yards/game. The defense has given up 1 TD on the ground (.5 TD/game) and 3 TDs through the air (1.5 TD/game) this season.

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