This article is part of our DFS College Football 101 series.
Welcome to our Showdown Slate Breakdown for Thursday's Gasparilla Bowl that features an 8-4 Marshall squad taking on a 7-5 South Florida team who has lost five straight games. In this article, I'll aim to arm you with relevant information for both the teams and players involved in the game. We will be rolling out Showdown Slate breakdowns throughout bowl season in addition to our traditional slate articles.
Marshall holds a three-point edge as the favorite over South Florida. The over/under for the contest sits at 51.5, suggesting the game could be defense-oriented.
The biggest question mark in the contest revolves around USF quarterback Blake Barnett, who is considered a question mark leading up to the contest. Barnett missed three of the team's last four contests due to a pair of injuries. He was spotted without a walking boot Sunday, but his status for the contest may not be revealed until pregame warmups. Wide receiver Darnell Salomon (undisclosed) has missed the last eight games as well and should be considered questionable, at best, as well.
For Marshall, the running back position represents the biggest conundrum. Keion Davis and Tyler King (undisclosed) began the season as the two primary tailbacks, but injuries to both down the stretch led to Brenden Knox taking over and posting three 100-yard efforts in four starts. Davis was apparently available for the team's regular-season finale and he did rack up 32 kickoff return yards in the contest, but he didn't carry the ball. King missed the team's final five regular-season contests and remains a question mark for the contest. Like Barnett for USF, it's quite possible word on Davis' availability won't surface until warmups or slightly before.
Showdown slates on DraftKings and Fanduel feature team captains that score 1.5x the standard fantasy point value for each statistic. The catch on DraftKings is that putting a player in your captain's spot means paying 1.5x the salary that they would be in the UTIL pool. The general strategy is to use the player with the highest projection in this spot, but it's important to take points per dollar into account as well.
Blake Barnett, QB, South Florida ($16,800 DK/$15,500 FD)
As was listed above, Barnett's status is one to monitor for the bowl game. If he's able to go, the junior signal-caller has proven to be a consistent option under center for the Bulls this season, racking up approximately 23 or more points on five different occasions during the 2018 campaign. His starting makes the Bulls offense churn more efficiently and the matchup also favors South Florida's air attack against a Marshall defense allowing 231.7 yards and 1.3 passing touchdowns per game. The Thundering Herd's S&P+ ranking of 32 through the air also slightly trails the team's S&P+ of 21 on the ground.
Brenden Knox, RB, Marshall ($17,700 DK/$15,000 FD)
Knox has emerged as the lead back for the Thundering Herd down the stretch with Tyler King (undisclosed) sidelined and Keion Davis injured and displaying inefficiency as a runner. The freshman back is coming off of a 200-yard effort against Virginia Tech, during which he averaged 7.6 yards per carry and notched two touchdowns. He also takes on a South Florida defense that is much more vulnerable on the ground – S&P+ of 81 and allowing 244.7 rushing yards and 2.6 rushing touchdowns per game on 5.0 YPA – than they've been through the air this season. The main consideration in regards to Knox's playing time revolves around King's availability for the contest. If King is able to go, there's a chance he would carve into some of Knox's workload. Nonetheless, the matchup is the juiciest of the game and may be too much so to pass up.
Tyre Brady, WR, Marshall ($12,600 DK/$13,500 FD)
In terms of receivers, Brady enters the contest head-and-shoulders above the rest. He ended the regular season with a bit of a dud against Virginia Tech, hauling in just two passes for 24 yards in the contest. The senior is playing in his last game with the Thundering Herd and will likely want to go out on a high note, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Brady on the top of his game. The focus of most will likely revolve around Barnett, Knox and possibly Isaiah Green in the MVP slot, and rightly so, but Brady owns a 36 percent target share on the season and has drawn at least 40 percent on five different occasions already. He has the ability to be an against-the-grain pick that could pay off in tournaments, especially on DraftKings where he can save you some money.
Tyler King, RB, Marshall ($7,400 DK/$12,500 FD)
King is one of the big question marks in terms of injuries entering the game. If he winds up taking the field, he has a decent chance to carve out a role against USF. The matchup is certainly conducive to a big ground game for the Thundering Herd and King, who averaged 6.1 yards per carry this season, could receive enough of a workload to take advantage of it.
Johnny Ford, RB, South Florida ($8,600 DK/$13,000 FD)
While the matchup may be the least favorable among the offensive facets entering the contest, Ford is likely the back to own. This is especially true on FanDuel, where he checks in $1,000 cheaper than Jordan Cronkrite despite coming off of a 120-yard rushing effort that resulted in 20-plus points on both sites. The two backs have shared the workload fairly evenly down the stretch, but most of Cronkrite's bigger efforts this season have come in games he has received 20-plus touches. I don't see that being the case in the Gasparilla Bowl.
There is a reason for combining the two in one selection here and it's pretty simple: the starting quarterback. When Blake Barnett is under center, McCants has seen a target share of at least 22 percent in eight of his 10 games and 33 percent or more in four of 10 games. He has just 23 and 17 percent target shares in the two games he didn't. The opposite is true for Wilcox. The starting tight end has seen more than 20 percent of the target share in just two games that Barnett has started this season, while he's posted a season-high 35 percent target share in the two games he didn't. If Barnett starts, McCants is a good play. The inverse is true for Wilcox.
Darnell Salomon, WR, South Florida ($3,400 DK/$9,000 FD)
Salomon pieced together a strong campaign to begin the season for the Bulls, but he missed each of the last three games with an injury. When healthy, Salomon had two double-digit target games in his last four contests and notched four touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season. If the additional month of rest provides him enough time to retake the field Thursday, he could be a cheap option for DraftKings purposes. That doesn't hold true on the FanDuel side of things, where he checks in at a less appealing $9,000.
Obi Obialo, WR, Marshall ($2,400 DK/$10,000 FD)
Obialo is another name that has seemingly slipped through the cracks of the DraftKings pricing system, settling at just $2,400 compared to $10,000 on FanDuel, likely accounting for the biggest price discrepancy between the two sites. Despite the price tag, Obialo ranks second on Marshall in terms of target share, albeit well behind Tyre Brady in that category. He also has a 100-yard receiving game under his belt during November and multiple double-digit scoring efforts on both sites this season, making the price well worth a flier in tournaments if looking to stock up on more of the high-end talent.
Chris Oladokun, QB, South Florida ($9,000 DK/ $6,000 FD)
The pricing structure on Oladokun reflects the different philosophies of the two sites. FanDuel seems to reward the average of overall performance, which allows Oladokun to fall in at the minimum price on the site as the backup quarterback. While he's not guaranteed to start Thursday, he should be owned in nearly all lineups on FanDuel should Blake Barnett be unavailable. DraftKings has planned for that contingency, however, leaving Oladokun less of a value play.