Thursday College Football DFS Showdown Strategy & Picks for Marshall vs. Appalachian State

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Thursday CFB DFS Breakdown

Showdown Strategy for Marshall vs. Appalachian State

marshall-thundering herd-college football-logo
Thursday, Sept. 23
7:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
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Temperature Precipitation Wind Speed
55° 1% 13 mph
Forecasted weather conditions reported as of Wednesday afternoon.

When it comes to upper-echelon Group of Five teams, it’s no surprise there’s plenty of talent. That’s exactly what we’ll see Thursday night when Marshall travels to Boone, North Carolina, to take on Appalachian State.

Despite the loss of running back Brenden Knox, Marshall still boasts plenty of playmakers, led by quarterback Grant Wells. On the other side, Camerun Peoples is sure to cause problems for a defense that ranks outside the top 90 in Rushing Success.

But that’s not all. There are plenty of other players to be aware of from a fantasy perspective in Thursday night’s showdown.


marshall-thundering herd-college football-logo

Marshall Thundering Herd

Marshall Odds

Spread Total Moneyline
+7
-105
59.5
-105o / -115u
+240
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.
draftkings-sportsbook-online sports betting-odds

From my initial impression of this showdown, I think we can get away with not having a high-profile player in the Captain slot as each team spreads the ball around, for the most part, between 4-5 different options and neither quarterback is putting up a huge number most likely.

With the game total creeping up already from 58.5 to 60 since the start of the week, we can expect far more points than the 17-7 outcome these two schools had a year ago.

Grant Wells ranks third nationally, averaging 371 passing yards per game, including back-to-back 400-yard performances. Great right? Eh, deceiving for a few reasons.

  1. While the yardage piled up, Wells has also thrown more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4) this season
  2. He’s faced Navy, NC Central and East Carolina.

On the plus side from a fantasy viewpoint, Wells is averaging 9.6 yards per attempt, way up from last year and his attempts per game have jumped from 27 to 38 in 2021. Not to mention Wells already tied the number of rushing touchdowns he had last season already with two.

This is a decent matchup for Wells this week with a favorable game script for passing situations as a seven-point dog and faces an App State defense that is currently 90th in yards allowed per game.

Six-foot-four-inch junior Corey Gammage has emerged as the Herd’s No. 1 option in the passing game with at least seven catches in all three games while accounting for 38% of the targets that have gone to wide receivers this season.

Last week in Marshall’s first competitive contest of the year, I think we got a good look at the true WR rotations with Gammage, Willie Johnson and Talik Keaton all playing at least 64 of the snaps against East Carolina.

Only Shadeed Ahmed was a factor among the remaining WRs with 30 snaps in the slot. I probably wouldn’t consider any Marshall receiver outside of that.

Tight end Xavier Gaines remains a central part of the Marshall offense with nine catches on 13 targets, though has yet to find the end zone.

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As for the backfield, if you read our waiver wire report from earlier this week, you’d have seen the positive signs regarding Rasheen Ali’s outlook moving forward as he saw the most carries in a game this past week against East Carolina with 24, rushing for 189 yards and three touchdowns.

Hopefully, an indication as to how the distribution of carries will be moving forward with Ali accounting for 73% of the attempts that went to Marshall RBs — Sheldon Evans had nine carries for minimal yardage.

Ali’s 53 snaps were also a season-high, but players can’t really glean much from that considering last week was Marshall’s first competitive game of the year.

I can’t gauge just yet either how much Ali will be used in the passing game under OC Tim Cramsey, who used his running backs extensively at Montana, Sam Houston State and Nevada with a combined 93 receptions from the RB1 in three years. Ali had nine catches on 10 targets in Week 2, but just two targets total in the other two games.

App State is allowing just 3.4 yards per carry through three games, but this defense is allowing around 20 fantasy points to opposing RB1s so far, with East Carolina’s Keaton Mitchell finding some success as a receiver with five catches and a TD in the opening matchup.

This could be an area for Ali to exploit if he’s struggling to find running room.


appalachian state-mountaineers-college football-logo

Appalachian State Mountaineers

Appalachian State Odds

Spread Total Moneyline
-7
-115
59.5
-105o / -115u
-305
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.
draftkings-sportsbook-online sports betting-odds

It seems the third time is a charm for Chase Brice. The former Clemson and Duke quarterback has limited the turnover problems that plagued him a year ago with just two interceptions so far.

Other than that, he’s been proficient, completing nearly 70% of his throws for 751 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 8.7 yards per attempt. Marshall ranks 42nd nationally in pass defense, but consider they’ve faced Navy who doesn’t throw and an FCS school.

The lone result against a somewhat competent quarterback in Holton Ahlers – 44.6 fantasy points allowed.

Appalachian State uses four receivers exclusively with Corey Sutton, Thomas Hennigan, Malik Williams and Jalen Virgil who account for 66 of the 77 targets that have gone to Mountaineer receivers this season.

Sutton paces the group with 237 yards and 18 receptions on 26 targets, but it truly could be any of the four any given week with a big performance.

Virgil, one of the fastest players in college football, provides a bonus of serving as the team’s kickoff returner and has taken one to the house already this season. He does sit a distant fourth in terms of snaps, though.

Tight ends Henry Pearson and Mike Evans play the majority of games but serve primarily as blockers — merely longshot dart throws in your lineup.

There’s also a split backfield between Camerun Peoples and Nate Noel, where the latter has actually out-carried the perceived RB1 here already in two of the three games.

Both players should conceivably make it into your lineup for Thursday, though the matchup isn’t great as Marshall is allowing just 3.99 yards per carry, is 27th in Rush Play PPA and 19th in Defensive Line Yards. App State is 30th in Run Play Success Rate.

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