WATCH: CAM NEWTON VS. CARSON WENTZ
The Eagles and Panthers square off in the Thursday Night Football game this week in Carolina. Both quarterbacks in this game have played exceptionally lately. Cam Newton will look to make it three straight games over 29 DKFP, and Carson Wentz will try to replicate his 31.26 DKFP Week 5 performance. There is plenty to break down in this game, so let’s take a look at the fantasy outlook for either side.
Spread: Panthers -3
Projected Total: 45.5
Panthers Implied Total: 24.25
Eagles Implied Total: 21.25
The Panthers’ Cam Newton ($6,700) has overcome a slow start to post a 136.3 passer rating over his last two games. Quarterbacks, meanwhile, are averaging 299 yards per game against the Eagles who have allowed the third most passing yards in the league thus far. One injury item to note is the fact the Eagles may get DT Fletcher Cox (game-time decisions) back for this game which would immensely help their front seven that has recorded only four sacks through the last three weeks (after recording eight in their first two). Cam’s last two games make him an elite QB play here, but his ceiling would be bumped up even more if Cox were to sit once again.
Rookie Christian McCaffrey ($5,900) took a season-low three carries last week against Detroit but remains a staple in the passing game as he’s averaged 7.2 targets per start. McCaffrey is somewhat game flow dependent and saw his lowest snap total of the year last week, playing just 58% of the snaps with the Panthers leading most of the game. Veteran Jonathan Stewart ($4,000) is still the Panthers’ early-down grinder, and while he’s yet to score a TD on the season, he leads the team with 11 red-zone carries. The Eagles haven’t been a good matchup for running backs, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position through five games and the second-fewest rush yards overall. Even with the poor matchup, however, McCaffrey’s pass game usage makes him a solid target at RB, especially as his price remains affordable at under $6K. Stewart remains a primetime only option but could see a decent workload once again if the Panthers get an early lead.
TE Ed Dickson ($3,000) did his best Greg Olsen impression last weekend going for 175 yards on just five receptions (five targets). While Dickson’s volume isn’t enormous (nine targets over the last two games), his price remains extremely affordable this week making him a nice DraftKings target against the Eagles who have allowed five receptions per game to the TE position. On the outside, the Eagles will likely again be without cornerback Ronald Darby, making this a potentially great spot for both Devin Funchess ($6,100) and Kelvin Benjamin ($6,400). Philly has allowed the most yards and receptions in the entire league to WRs through five weeks, and both Carolina wideouts will have significant height advantages over either Patrick Robinson or Jalen Mills. While Benjamin is averaging 16 yards per catch, Funchess — who returned the practice Wednesday and looks almost certain to play — is the safer choice as he has significantly out-targeted Benjamin on the season and is now averaging nine targets over his last three games.
The Eagles have run the second most plays per game thus far in 2017, and that has helped QB Carson Wentz ($6,600) average 22.5 DraftKings points per game through five weeks. That number could drop after this week, however, as the Panthers have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to the QB position and also have the third slowest pace of play (per football outsiders) in the league through Week 5. The matchup and the low team total of the Eagles mean Wentz is best viewed as a short slate tournament option only.
With Wendall Smallwood (knee) still out of practice and likely missing this game, expect the touches at RB for the Eagles to be doled out between LeGarrette Blount ($4,700), Corey Clement ($4,100) and Kenjon Barner ($3,700) again. Last week, Blount led the group with 26 snaps played but Clement and Barner were close behind with 23 and 17 respectively. Blount has put up an impressive average of 5.8 yards per carry this season and leads the team with nine red zone carries. Carolina has been decent against the rush, however, allowing just 3.72 YPC. Like usual, Blount will need to find the end zone here if he’s to exceed value as his use in the passing game is next to none. As the only RB who caught a pass last week (1 reception For 22 yards) Clement makes for an interesting punt option here as the coaches may look to expand his role in that department if they find themselves down late in the game.
At WR, Torrey Smith ($3,800) and Nelson Agholor ($4,200) both caught long TD passes last week, but neither has seen more than five targets in the last three games, making them strictly boom or bust tournament plays for DraftKings purposes. Carolina has also yet to allow a WR to post more than 87 yards in a game making this also appear to be a below average spot for the Eagles’ number one wideout Alshon Jeffery ($6,300). So far the connection between Jeffery and QB Carson Wentz hasn’t been great as the former Bear has only caught 52% of balls thrown to him. He’ll be a somewhat TD dependant play here as well unless game flow allows him to see a dramatic increase in targets.
The safer play at this price-point — and the Eagles true number one receiver — is undoubtedly Zach Ertz ($6,300). Ertz has averaged 9.6 targets per game thus far and leads the team with six red zone targets. Carolina has been stellar at defending against TEs but did allow two TDs last week to Darren Fells. Given Ertz’s role and pass-catching abilities, the matchup may not matter at this point as he’s become such a focal point of the offense and developed such a great rapport with his QB that he should be able to put up numbers against a solid Panthers LB crew.
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