Falcons vs. Panthers - Week 8
Falcons @ Panthers
49 O/U -3 (CAR)
This NFC South divisional matchup features the lowly Falcons, coming off yet another brutal late collapse, against the middling and streaky Panthers. This is Carolina’s only shot this season at a prime-time game, so expect them to be at their best as they host their neighbors to the Southwest. The weather will likely be a factor, as it is expected to rain significantly in Charlotte on Thursday.
Through the Air
The Panthers have been relying on Teddy Bridgewater to lead them while their star RB is out, and he has been growing into the role. He’s the QB18 on the season thus far, so the on-field competency hasn’t translated to fantasy output yet. This looks like a good week, however, as he draws a home game against the Falcons, who have allowed at least 299 pass yards in every single game (blame Russell Wilson for requiring that very specific number, as he was the QB unable to rack up 300). He’ll be looking to get those yards by throwing to Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and Curtis Samuel at WR. Start up Anderson and Moore as solid WR2 options in your lineup, with Samuel as a more fringe option if you need a high-ceiling flex. TE isn’t quite there for the Panthers, with Ian Thomas as their leader at the position with 50 yards. Keep it to the WRs in this offense.
On the Ground
This is a tough one. Indications are that Christian McCaffrey is back at practice, and he’s been activated off the IR. But it would make a lot more sense to skip this Thursday game and allow him 10 more days of recovery on the long week. Either way, if he suits up and is active for the game this week, there’s really no way you can bench him – just temper expectations, as with any player coming off an injury hiatus. If he can’t go, Mike Davis will be the bellcow, and you can fire him up with confidence. If they both play, it gets a bit murky for Davis, but I would still consider him a solid flex option until McCaffrey is back to 100%, especially against this defense.
Through the Air
Matt Ryan has been operating a competent passing offense, and is a top-12 QB so far in fantasy. Even through 6 losses, he’s yet to throw for under 200 yards, and he has a couple of the best weapons in the league at WR. The Panthers did hold him to his lowest output on the season in their week 5 matchup, and he was at home in that game, but I have confidence that Ryan will improve on that performance this week. A big difference will be that he gets Julio Jones for this rematch, who was out for their first face-off. He and Calvin Ridley are locked in WR1s pretty much every week, and that’s no different this week. Russell Gage has also been involved, but his inconsistency means he’s hard to trust as a starter in fantasy. Leave him on your bench for now, as his output increases when one of the top two miss time. At TE, look for Hayden Hurst to be a TD-dependent streaming option this week. Boot him up if you don’t have a top guy already.
On the Ground
Todd Gurley is scoring even when he isn’t trying to. His 7th TD of the season ended up costing the Falcons the victory in last week’s matchup, but if you have him you have to love that output. He’s already gotten 122 carries, along with 20 targets in the receiving game. He’s an RB1, start him up with confidence. Brian Hill and Ito Smith have been getting work as well, although they only have 1 TD between them and not enough volume to be worth even a speculative start. This is the Gurley show for now.
Younghoe Koo should bounce back as the Falcons’ offense tries to get back on track this week. Joey Slye is also a decent option this week, as both offenses should have opportunities on the opposing half of the field. Panthers’ D/ST is a decent streaming option this week, and should be in the top half of scoring for the position. Skip Atlanta’s D/ST, though.