This article is part of our FanDuel College Football series.
We have a small three-game slate to look forward to this weekend, the first multi-game option since Wednesday due to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There isn't a massive gap between the scoring totals, but there is enough of one to warrant some extra consideration for the Coastal Carolina-Liberty game (59.5) which leads the way by four over UTSA-Louisiana. Georgia State-Western Kentucky is expected to fall somewhat flat in the excitement category with only a 50.5 expected total.
The Ragin' Cajuns are the heaviest favorite on the slate at -13.5, giving them a slate-high 34.5 expected score followed closely by the Chanticleers (one of the better and more creative team names in college football).
The only minor weather concern to look for is wind around 12 mph in the First Responder Bowl, which could have a minor impact on the respective passing games.
Malik Willis, Liberty (Healthy) - Tested positive for COVID-19 prior to regular-season finale that was ultimately canceled. Returned to practice Thursday and is good to go for bowl game.
CJ Yarbrough, Liberty (Ques) - Listed on the depth chart for Saturday and was hopeful to return against Coastal Carolina in regular-season finale before it was canceled.
Dayton Wade, Western Kentucky (Healthy) - Will play Saturday after missing the last six games.
Xavier Lane, Western Kentucky (Doub) - Not expected to take the field.
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Saturday Bowl Plays
Malik Willis, Liberty ($10,400) vs. Coastal Carolina
Two options sit atop the board at the quarterback position by a significant margin in Grayson McCall and Malik Willis, who each check-in with salaries over $10,000, while no other signal-caller reaches more than $9,200 and two of the six falls below $8,000. Willis gets the slight nod for me here. Of the 44 touchdowns scored during Willis' nine games in uniform, he has had a hand in 30 of them. Willis has finished with fewer than 20 FD points just once all season, has topped 30 FD points on three occasions and 40 points once. If the Flames reach pay dirt four times Saturday, the percentages suggest Willis would have a hand in three of those. His abilities as a rusher also provide some extra value, enough to give him the edge in Saturday's matchup. To top it off, the expected game flow based on Liberty being the underdog would suggest Willis could be relied upon more heavily in the second half.
Cornelious Brown, Georgia State ($9,200) vs. Western Kentucky
Although it may not be advisable, if you're looking to go against the grain and bypass the top two options on the board, Brown may be – and is expected to based on salary – the next best thing. Brown's running abilities have gone somewhat silent in recent weeks. However, he has rushed for seven scores over nine games, including three in the last four. This ground impact could pay off for the freshman signal-caller Saturday as he prepares to take on a Hilltoppers defense that has surrendered nine touchdowns and 439 yards on the ground to the opposition over 11 games. This could be a key contributor in Brown hitting value but could be part of the equation.
Tyrrell Pigrome, Western Kentucky ($6,800) vs. Georgia State
Pigrome might be my top choice to hit 3x value when reaching down the board. It's certainly fair to be turned away by his sub-20 efforts in each of the last six games. However, Pigrome did average 21.2 points over the first three contests and squares off with a Georgia State defense allowing a slate-high 20.3 points to opposing quarterbacks. While that number is buoyed by just a few big outings, it also shows that the Panthers' defense can be torched on the right day. Even if he doesn't explode, he only needs to near the 20-point mark to be a worthy inclusion on a slate featuring just six quarterback options.
CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina ($10,200) vs. Liberty
Marable's matchup versus the team allowing the fewest points per game to opposing running backs could lead many to turn away from him at the top salary on the charts. What isn't taken into account is the level of the opponents across the board. Among the Flames' foes this season are four FBS teams 99th or lower in rushing yards per game – Western Kentucky (99), Syracuse (121), Louisiana-Monroe (125) and Massachusetts (126) – and a pair of FCS schools. These contests heavily weigh down opponent rushing stats, but there are signs teams with decent running games can make a mark against the Flames. N.C. State's top two running backs combined for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns and FIU's lead dog ran for 148 yards and a pair of scores on just 13 carries. Marable is coming off of a pair of 20-plus rushing attempt games and there will be little reason to deviate from a ground-heavy approach in this one. Marable has earned himself the top spot on the board as well, turning in three consecutive multi-touchdown efforts that have earned him an averaged of 32.7 FD points over that span.
Sincere McCormick, UTSA ($9,500) vs. Louisiana
Like Marable, McCormick has come into his own down the stretch, compiling three 30-plus point efforts in the last four games of the 2020 regular season. While he may not quite enjoy the heavy volume if the Roadrunners fall behind, he should get enough to warrant a look versus a Louisiana defense that is letting up a slate-high 27.7 FD points to opposing running backs, which includes 180.9 rushing yards and 1.9 rushing scores per game. Running backs have accounted for 14 of the 17 rushing touchdowns scored against the Ragin' Cajuns this season, which bodes well for McCormick's chances of crossing the goal line.
Tucker Gregg, Georgia State ($6,400) vs. Western Kentucky
Gregg didn't start out the season with much of a role but took advantage of Destin Coates missing Week 7 versus Arkansas to run for 142 yards and a score and has slowly carved out a consistent role in the offense. He has compiled double-digit carries in each of the last three contests and seems the far more likely option to reach value given his backfield mate's salary runs $1,000 more. If you're looking for an under-the-radar option with some upside, Gregg may be your man.
Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina ($9,400) vs. Liberty
While I sided with Malik Willis above, I'm definitely on the side of Grayson McCall when it comes to the passing attack. One of the big reasons for that is that he has a target unmatched in the Flames' offense in Jaivon Heligh. The junior wideout sports a slate-high 30.6 percent target share that sits more than six percentage points higher than any other wideout on the slate. He's second to only Sam Pinckney in yards per target among wideouts consistently getting seven or more per game. Nobody comes close to matching his 10 touchdowns either, albeit that game totals likely plays a factor in this as well.
Cornelius McCoy, Georgia State ($7,000) vs. Western Kentucky
Joining his fellow Cornelious, though his quarterback is spelled differently, is McCoy, who gets overshadowed by teammate Pinckney (see above) in the Panthers' passing attack. What can't be overlooked is that Brown actually lays claim to a larger share of the targets when he's available, notching 7.3 per game to Pinckney's 7.2. You likely get a safer floor with Pinckney overall, but McCoy can equal him on upside, making him the far superior option in GPP pools given the massive salary discrepancy (Pinckney sits at $8,700).
Kyren Lacy, Louisiana ($5,900) vs. UTSA
Lacy checks a few boxes when you're looking deep in the list. First off, he leads the team in target share and holds a slight edge over Peter LeBlanc in the targets per game category (4.3 to 4.2). He's also notched a pair more scores than LeBlanc. This is the key element to the equation, as any play down this far more often than not needs a touchdown to reach the necessary value. Lacy has proven to be the better option there and could be worth a dart against a Roadrunners defense allowing 1.8 passing touchdowns per game.
Here are some more bobbing-for-apples options in the form of Western Kentucky wide receivers. If I had to pick the cream of the crop, my most potential value lies with Wade, who requires the lowest portion of the total salary and tallied totals of 10, 12 and nine targets over his last three games played. It's worth noting that he's coming off an extended absence, so it remains to be seen if the connection with Pigrome under center remains. Tinsley checks the red-zone threat box, amassing four touchdown receptions so far this season as the Hilltoppers prepare to face a Georgia State defense surrendering 2.3 passing scores per game. The real wild-card (or Charlie Day as I like to call it) of the group is Thomas, who didn't contribute at all prior to the regular-season finale, where he busted out with five catches for 78 yards. The presence of both Tinsley and Wade clouds exactly how much Thomas will be used, and he's not exactly sporting a discounted salary, so it's really a shot in the dark with some upside on Thomas' end.