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Devy Fantasy Football Player Watch: Thursday Games

Devy fantasy football players to have your eye on this weekend.
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Here are 20 devy prospects we will be monitoring for Thursday's action-packed slate. 

Isaih Pacheco - Running Back - Rutgers 

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Pacheco hopes to start the season off strong in hopes of becoming Rutgers' first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012. In the three season-openers the 215-pound back has played in, he has averaged 5.9 yards per carry and amassed six touchdowns. The Scarlet Knights are double-digit favorites over Temple, allowing the Jersey product to see a ton of carries in the second half. This game presents an advantageous matchup for the fourth-year back, as he faces an Owls' defense that allowed more than 75 yards or a touchdown to their last three opponent's starting running back. Expect a big game from Pacheco, as Rutgers hopes to win their first home game since October 2019. 

Isaiah Likely - Tight End - Coastal Carolina 

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Likely has been as dependable as they come since arriving in Conway, playing in all but one game of his three-year career and tallying five touchdowns each year. The explosive Massachusetts native accounted for the three most explosive receptions of the Chanticleers' offense last season and recorded the highest yards per reception out of all tight ends. Out of players with at least 30 receptions, Likely was second among all FBS pass-catchers behind Western Michigan's D'Wayne Eskridge. In The Citadel's spring season, the opponent's top tight end averaged 22.3 yards per reception and scored in six of the eight contests. 

D'Vonte Price - Running Back - Florida International

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Patience has been crucial for the Florida product, as Price was the third option for much of his first three seasons in Miami. It was not until last season that the 215-pound back had the opportunity to lead the Panthers' rushing attack. Price proved to be extremely efficient in the shortened five-game season, shattering school records for yards per carry in a season (6.8) and yards per game (116.2). The best is yet to come for the fifth-year running back, and with the Panthers' inconsistent quarterback play in 2020, we should see Price eclipse his previous season-high of 90 carries. In the last five games, he ran the ball ten or more times. The Charlotte High product impressed with 657 yards at a 7.3-yard-per-carry clip. Expect him to continue his hot stretch from last season, as he faces an LIU defense that was gashed for 106 yards per game by the opposing team's lead back last season. 

Khalil Shakir - Wide Receiver - Boise State 

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Tim Plough, the Broncos' new offensive coordinator, had success with physically imposing receivers like Emmanuel Butler and Keelan Doss in the past, but he has yet to work with a pass-catcher as technical as Shakir. Despite being buried on the depth chart as a freshman, the Vista Murrieta graduate has led the team in receptions over the past two seasons. The dynamic 6'0" wideout has at least six catches in eight of his last ten games. Interestingly enough, Shakir's average stat-line from a year ago (7.4/102.7/0.86) is almost identical to the average stat-line recorded by the opposing team's top receiver in all four of the UCF's 2020 losses (7.5/103.3/1.25). 

Dillon Gabriel - Quarterback - UCF 

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Replacing a player of McKenzie Milton's magnitude is usually a tall task, but the Hawaii product has been nothing short of spectacular in his first two seasons in Orlando. Gabriel has been exceptionally efficient, recording the school's lowest interception-to-attempt ratio (0.14) while maintaining the highest yard per attempt (8.9) in UCF history. The 6'0" signal-caller enters year three only 23 touchdowns away from passing Daunte Culpepper's 22-year school record, a feat he is almost certain to accomplish if he plays every game. The Golden Knights' offensive line has plenty of experience, and losing their top three rushers should put even more of an emphasis on Gabriel and the passing game. 

Kevin Marks Jr. - Running Back - Buffalo 

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After redshirting his first season in Buffalo, the Virginia native was stuck behind the great Jaret Patterson for the last four years. Still, Marks Jr. was tremendously effective as the second guy in the room, recording at least 700 yards and seven or more touchdowns in all three seasons. The 203-pound fifth-year back averaged more yards per carry than Jaret Patterson in the last three games they both played in last year. Do not be worried about the coaching changes; Offensive Coordinator Shane Montgomery, formerly of James Madison, gave their lead back, Percy Agyei-Obese, more carries than Lance Leipold gave Jaret Patterson last season. Wagner allowed six rushing touchdowns in their two-game spring season, so expect Marks Jr. to have a stunning performance as the lead back against the Seahawks. 

Brant Kuithe - Tight End - Utah 

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Despite displaying frustration at the quarterback play at times in 2020, the 6'2" senior still managed to average 63 yards per contest in the final three games and lead all Pac-12 tight ends in receptions per game. Expect the Utes to utilize Kuithe's versatility more than ever before, as tight end coach Freddie Whittingham said that they plan to "move him all over the field, so the defense doesn't know where to defend him – play by play, scheme by scheme." If the reports are factual about the chemistry between Baylor transfer quarterback and the veteran pass-catchers, look for the Texas product to score his first touchdown since the 2019 Alamo Bowl. 

Cade Fortin - Quarterback - USF 

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Expectations are unknown with the former Tar Hell quarterback, as Fortin has only played in six games in his three-year college career. Despite the uncertainty, there is some intrigue about the 6'3 221-pound signal-caller, as head coach Jeff Scott has praised the Georgia native for his consistency throughout the entire offseason. One thing we do know is that Fortin is not afraid to extend plays and make defenses pay with his feet, as evident by his 6.4-yard average on 18 carries. South Florida returns four of their top five receivers from a year ago, and their entire starting lineup is back, providing some stability for Fortin's first start as a Bull. While the Wolfpack are 18-point favorites and should handle USF, we should be able to get a gauge of his arm talent with plenty of pass attempts. 

Zonovan Knight - Running Back - NC State 

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Coming out of Southern Nash High, the same school Julius Peppers attended, the explosive junior back has been phenomenal since he arrived in Raleigh. His career 5.49 yards-per-carry clip is first in NC State history, and the North Carolina native had 25 carries of ten or more yards last season. Knight gets a matchup with a South Florida defense that allowed the opposing team's top rusher to run for either 75 yards or a touchdown in four of their five road games in 2020. All signs point to the 210-pounder's six-game touchdown streak continuing when the Bulls come to Carter-Finley Stadium. 

CJ Johnson - Wide Receiver - East Carolina 

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Johnson's first year in Greenville caught the eye of college football fans across the nation as he set the Pirates' freshman school record with 908 yards. The hometown kid had an up-and-down sophomore season, but Johnson still managed to reel in a team-high six touchdowns despite the second-year instability. With three-year contributor Blake Proehl off to the NFL, the D.H. Conley graduate should see an uptick in targets alongside Tyler Snead. The 6'2" 222-pound receiver went through spring camp for the first time in his career, where outside receivers coach Drew Dudzik stressed establishing good habits. Appalachian State's defense returns a ton of experience, but this game should be an early gauge on which version of Johnson we should expect in year three. 

Camerun Peoples - Running Back - Appalachian State 

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The Clay Central product was the second-lowest ranked commit in the Mountaineer's 2018 class, but after playing in only four games over his first two seasons, Peoples proved to be a dangerous runner in 2020. The 220-pound back toted the rock at an impressive 6.7 yard-per-carry clip and led the country with four carries of 60 or more yards. The Alabama native capped off his noteworthy junior season by breaking P.J. Daniels' 21-year bowl game rushing record by going off for 317 yards in the Myrtle Beach Bowl against North Texas. Behind an offensive line that returns three starters from a year ago, Peoples faces a Pirates' defense that gave up 150 rushing yards per game in 2020 and two touchdowns by a running back in four of their last five games. 

CJ Stroud - Quarterback - Ohio State 

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Succeeding a player of Justin Fields' caliber is a tough ask for a player yet to throw a pass in his college career. Yet, the redshirt sophomore's fascinating skillset combined with Ryan Day's quarterback-friendly scheme is quite compelling. Stroud was entrenched in a quarterback battle between numerous four and five-star prospects, but Day mentioned that the California native "separated himself with his decision-making, his leadership skills, and his accuracy." The Minnesota pass defense was solid in 2020, but losing Benjamin St-Juste on the backend could provide some growing pains Stroud could take advantage of. Surrounded by likely the best core of receiving options in the country, the Rancho Cucamonga product's first prime-time start will be must-see television. 

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Daniel Jackson - Receiver - Minnesota 

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The 6'0 sophomore from Kansas stepped up in the back half of his first season with Rashod Bateman opting out. Despite not getting into the endzone, those close to the Gophers' program seem to believe the Bishop Miege product will take a substantial step in production alongside Chris Autman-Bell. In a preseason media session, the veteran Autman-Bell said Jackson reminds him of Tyler Johnson with his ability to create separation off the release. The rave reviews around Minneapolis, combined with Autman-Bell's leg injury, should allow the former four-star could obtain some national notoriety when the Buckeyes come to Huntington Bank Stadium. 

Jalen McGaughy - Wide Receiver - Ball State 

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The Detroit native might not have seen a ton of targets last year, but seeing as he scored on three of his five receptions, McGaughy is quite an intriguing receiver. The 6'2 217-pounder was a big play waiting to happen with an incredible 34.2 yards per reception average. All three of his touchdowns came on plays of 30 or more yards, and though leading receivers Justin Hall and Yo'Heinz Taylor return and will likely remain the top two receiving options, we should see the redshirt sophomore's volume increase drastically. McGaughy gets a matchup with a Western Illinois defense that gave up 12.15 yards per completion in 2020 and at least one reception of over 40 yards in every game. 

Jalin Hyatt - Wide Receiver - Tennessee

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The South Carolina sophomore had quite an impressive first year in Knoxville, recording at least two receptions in six of their eight games. While we do not know what to expect from Joe Milton, we do know Josh Heupel loves to get the ball to his playmakers in the open field. Josh Palmer and his 65 targets are gone, allowing the dynamic Dutch Fork product to become the lead receiver in a potentially explosive offense. The Falcons' defense gave up 45.0 points per game last season, and the opposing team's lead pass-catcher had either 55 yards or two touchdowns in four of their five games. Chances are the 6'0 175-pound receiver goes off when Bowling Green comes to Neyland Stadium. 

Bailey Zappe - Quarterback - Western Kentucky 

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Not many expected outside of Victoria, Texas, believed Zappe's four-year career at Houston Baptist would have gone as such, but after recording 10,004 passing yards, Western Kentucky fans are grinning from ear to ear about the transfer. A year ago, the 6'1" 220-pound signal-caller averaged 458.3 yards per game, over 100 yards more than FBS leader Dillon Gabriel. Zappe was not only impressive against lower-level talent; he went off for 567 yards against Texas Tech, the most ever by an FCS quarterback against an FBS defense. Coming along with Zappe from Houston Baptist are his top three leading receivers and offensive coordinator Zach Kittley, who was also an assistant quarterback coach at Texas Tech when Patrick Mahomes was in Lubbock. UT-Martin was sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference in passing yards allowed per game in the spring, so bank on Zappe having an electric debut in Bowling Green. 

Bobby Cole - Running Back - New Mexico 

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In his redshirt junior season, Cole was solid but came on down the stretch, scoring three touchdowns and averaging 134.5 yards in the last two contests. The former two-star prospect from California has been far from a workhorse back, but Cole has been more productive when carrying the load. The redshirt senior had ten or more carries in the seven games, and Cole ran for 609 yards, good for 5.8 yards per rush, and seven touchdowns. With the Lobos returning four starters on their offensive line and contributors Nathaniel Jones and Bryson Carroll gone from a year ago, we should expect the Sierra Canyon product to receive substantial volume in the running game. The 5'9" 207-pounder should feast against a Houston Baptist defense that was gashed by lead backs for 7.6 yards per carry and six touchdowns in four games last year. 

Keylon Stokes - Wide Receiver - Tulsa 

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We do not know how the Hurricanes' offense will look with Davis Brin taking over at quarterback, but one thing is for certain: Keylon Stokes will have a prominent role. Despite only finding the endzone three times last year, the 5'10" 198-pound receiver has been as reliable as they come, averaging over five catches and 81 yards in his past 15 appearances. Tulsa returns most of their leading receivers from a year ago, but count on the inexperienced Brin to rely heavily on the fifth-year pass-catcher. Stokes gets a prime matchup against an Aggies' pass defense that allowed the opposing team's lead receiver to have almost six catches and 80 yards per contest, meaning the Manvel product should be in for a big day. 

Charles Williams - Running Back - UNLV 

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One of the bright spots in the Rebels' otherwise putrid offense was Williams, who led the team in rushing for the second year in a row. The Bullard High product is only 793 yards away from passing Rebel great Tim Cornett on the all-time rushing yard record. When the Fresno, California native carried the ball 15 or more times in the last two seasons, he averaged 114 yards per contest, good for 5.7 yards per carry. Williams has been particularly impressive in season-openers, averaging 8.9 yards per rush and scoring five touchdowns. The 5'9" 200-pound sixth-year back is set to carry the load against a Sun Devils' defense that allowed 183.2 yards on the ground per contest in 2020. 

DeaMonte "Chip" Trayanum - Running Back - Arizona State 

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Coming out of Archbishop Hoban, many were unsure what position Trayanum would play, as the 235-pounder was a standout performer as both a linebacker and running back. It looks like the Sun Devils' staff made the right choice keeping him on offense, as the Ohio product had either 100 yards or a touchdown in all four games of his first season in Tempe. While Rachaad White and Daniyel Ngata will have a role in Zak Hill's offense, Trayanum's role as the early-down back will likely continue into year two. Trayanum should have a field day against UNLV, as their opponent's lead back averaged 102.2 yards over their six-game season.

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