TNF Fantasy Preview: Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthersby Mike Fanelli October 29, 2020 2 comments
Last week’s Thursday night game was hard to watch at times. Both offenses had ugly turnovers while Daniel Jones got caught by the turf monster, causing him to miss out on a long touchdown run. Last week’s recommendations were mostly accurate as Carson Wentz scored 27.8 fantasy points, and Boston Scott produced in replace of Miles Sanders. Hopefully, tonight we have a better game than last week’s, and it ends with plenty of fantasy points scored. Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s Thursday Night Fantasy Preview.
Quarterback – Matt Ryan
The 2020 season has been one of ups and downs for Ryan. After scoring 52.4 fantasy points over the first two weeks of the season, Ryan scored a total of 30.7 fantasy points over his next three games. Then, Dan Quinn was fired, and Ryan scored a season-high 31.6 fantasy points against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6. However, he scored an average of 17.5 fantasy points last week against a struggling Detroit Lions defense. Now on a short week, Ryan faces the Panthers, who are giving up an average of only 15.3 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, they have held quarterbacks under 15 fantasy points in more than half of their games. Ryan’s receivers and lack of defense keep him in the low-end QB1 conversation this week.
Running Back – Todd Gurley
Gurley has averaged under three yards per carry in almost half of his games this season. However, he is coming off a two touchdown game against the Lions and has a great matchup this week. The Panthers have given up the third most fantasy points per game to the running back position, giving up almost 32 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, they have allowed opposing running backs to rush for over 100 yards in 71 percent of their games and given up eight rushing touchdowns this season. When Gurley faced the Panthers two weeks ago, he had a season-high 121 rushing yards and 25 fantasy points. Gurley is a mid RB1 this week with plenty of upside.
Once again, Julio is on the injury report, this time with a hip injury. However, he has back-to-back games with at least eight catches for over 95 yards and 17.5 or more fantasy points. If he is active for the Falcons, he belongs in your WR1 spot. On the other side, Ridley has been great for fantasy owners outside of the game against the Green Bay Packers. In his other six games this season, Ridley is averaging 23.5 fantasy points per game. He has six touchdowns this season and has scored at least 16.7 fantasy points in every game outside of Green Bay. Once again, if he is active for the Falcons, Ridley belongs in your WR1 spot this week.
Gage’s fantasy owners have struggled to trust him. After averaging 18.5 fantasy points per game to start the season, Gage scored a total of 12.2 fantasy points over the next three games. However, over the last two weeks, Gage has 10 catches on 11 targets for 119 yards and 21.9 fantasy points despite not scoring a touchdown. While the Panthers are only giving up an average of 30.8 fantasy points per game to wide receivers, fantasy owners should have no fear playing Julio and Ridley. Despite not facing Michael Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders, the Panthers gave up a season-high 41.1 fantasy points to the New Orleans Saints’ wide receivers last week. Julio and Ridley are plug and play WR1s this week, while Gage is a mid WR3.
Tight End – Hayden Hurst
After scoring under 9.5 fantasy points in four of his first five games this season, Hurst has put together back-to-back good performances. Over the last two weeks, Hurst has caught 10 of 11 targets for 125 yards, a touchdown, and 28.5 fantasy points. On paper, the matchup tonight isn’t ideal for Hurst. The Panthers are giving up an average of 11 fantasy points per game to tight ends. However, in three of their last four games, the Panthers have given up a touchdown and at least 13.8 fantasy points. Coming off back-to-back good games, combined with the Panthers’ recent struggles slowing down tight ends, make Hurst a low-end TE1 this week.
There is no reason why anyone should play the Falcons D/ST tonight or anytime this season. They are averaging less than zero fantasy points per game and scored negative fantasy points in over half of their games this season. Furthermore, the one time this season where the Falcons D/ST scored more than two fantasy points was in Week 6 against the Vikings. That week they scored only six fantasy points despite intercepting Kirk Cousins three times.
Quarterback – Teddy Bridgewater
With Christian McCaffrey out of the lineup, Bridgewater has played well for fantasy owners. In the five games without MCM, Bridgewater has scored 19.2 or more fantasy points in three of them. Furthermore, over his last four games, Bridgewater has seven total touchdowns, and aside from the game against the Chicago Bears, he has averaged 22.1 fantasy points per game. Meanwhile, the Falcons have given up the most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position this season. They are giving up an average of 27.5 per game. Furthermore, the Falcons have given up an average of 2.7 passing touchdowns per game this season. Bridgewater scored 20.8 fantasy points against the Falcons a few weeks ago and should have another strong performance tonight.
On Tuesday, the Panthers designated McCaffrey to return from injured reserve. However, CMC likely won’t play tonight as the Panthers will want to give him the mini bye before they face the Kansas City Chiefs next week. If by, some chance, CMC does play tonight, he is a plug and play RB1. Meanwhile, the Falcons have struggled to slow down running backs this season. They are giving up an average of 24.8 fantasy points per game to the position. Furthermore, they gave up 29.9 fantasy points to Davis in their Week 5 matchup. If CMC is active, Davis goes from his plug and play RB1 status to a flex option with upside. However, more than likely, CMC will not play, and Davis remains an RB1 this week.
When the Panthers signed Anderson in the offseason, many didn’t think much of the move. However, Anderson has turned into the Panthers’ top wide receiver and a fantasy WR1. This season, Anderson is averaging 16.6 fantasy points per game, scoring at least 10.5 in every contest. Furthermore, he is averaging 8.4 targets per game. However, over the last two weeks, Anderson has a total of 13 targets and hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1.
Entering the season, Moore was everyone’s breakout star, but he hasn’t produced like one. Over the first four games of the season, Moore scored 9.5 or more fantasy points just once. However, over his last three games, Moore has three touchdowns and is averaging 19.6 fantasy points per game, scoring at least 14.3 in every contest. Most important of all for tonight’s game, Moore’s three-game hot streak started against the Falcons in Week 5, where he scored 19.3 fantasy points.
With the addition of Anderson and Moore’s emergence, Samuel has been an afterthought in the Panthers’ offense. He is averaging 10.2 fantasy points and 4.8 targets per game. Where Samuel has produced is on the ground. Over his last five games, Samuel is averaging three attempts and 2.5 fantasy points per game in the running game. However, over his previous two games, Samuel has caught all 11 of his targets and scored 28.7 fantasy points. That includes the 11.4 fantasy point game against the Falcons in Week 5.
Meanwhile, the Falcons have given up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season. They are giving up an average of 43.9 fantasy points per game and have given up at least 39.6 to wide receivers in six of seven games this season. Furthermore, the Falcons gave up their second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season against the Panthers in Week 5, giving up 52.4 fantasy points. Both Anderson and Moore are mid WR1s this week, while Samuel is low end WR3 with more upside if CMC doesn’t play.
Tight End – Ian Thomas
After Greg Olsen was released in the offseason, many had high hopes for Thomas this season. However, he has scored a total of 18 fantasy points this year and has scored more than four fantasy points in only one game. Furthermore, Thomas has seen two or fewer targets in all but one game this season. Meanwhile, the Falcons have given up at least 16.9 fantasy points to tight ends in every game this season except one. That one game exception was against Thomas in Week 5, where he scored zero fantasy points. Thomas is outside the top 20 tight ends this week and should be avoided, if possible.
Tonight’s game shouldn’t include much defense, and fantasy owners should avoid starting either D/ST. The Panthers D/ST is averaging only 3.1 fantasy points per game and has scored five or fewer fantasy points in all but one of their games this season. Furthermore, the Panthers D/ST has forced only three turnovers and registered three sacks over their last three games. Meanwhile, opposing D/STs have scored five or fewer fantasy points in every game against the Falcons this season. Leave the Panthers D/ST on the waiver wire where they belong.
Ryan: Low-End QB1
Gurley: Mid RB1
Jones: Plug and Play WR1
Ridley: Plug and Play WR1
Gage: Mid WR3
Hurst: Low-End TE1
Falcons D/ST: Avoid
Bridgewater: Low-End QB1
McCaffrey: Plug and Play RB1 if Active
Davis: Mid RB1
Anderson: Mid WR1
Moore: Mid WR1
Samuel: Low-End WR3
Panthers D/ST: Avoid
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