Thursday Night Showdown – DFS Strategy & Picks – Falcons Panthers – a Real Deal Haunted Happening!

Oh Halloween. The time for mischief, mayhem and candy. I’ll be honest I was a big fan when I was a kid, middle of the road in my 20s and 30s and am now a big fan again thanks to my daughter. So for all of you that are disenchanted by all Hallows Eve, my only advice is nothing is nothing till it’s something and that something could be nothing you’d want to miss. Go ahead, say that 10 times fast.

BUT TONIGHT we get what is hopefully to be a showdown shootout between the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers and when I hear shootout, I think Fantasy Points and when I think Fantasy Points I think DFS. So I think we have a matchup with some very favorable DFS angles to attack – so let’s attack ’em!

Before I start in on tonight, I want to touch on Monday Night quickly as there are some lessons here that we all can learn. It starts with the highest scoring and winning lineup on the night which had Ram’s receiver Josh Reynolds as the Captain/MVP and tight end Johnny Mundt rostered. If you read my Monday article (and around 50 or so of you did – thank you!) you will see that I did mention Josh Reynolds as a dart throw but nowhere did I mention Johnny Mundt. Was at in error on my part – in hindsight, sure you could say that. However the reality is – NO ONE mentioned Johnny Mundt – at least no one I read or listen to did and why? Well Tyler Higbee was out. Gerald Everett who also plays on two tight end sets with Higbee was in. The natural conclusion is that Everett will see an increased volume as a starter. What none of us (practically, none of us I should say as Mundt was rostered in 2% of DFS Lineups on Monday) took into account was Everett’s role on the field wasn’t going to change and that the Rams put Mundt in to play Higbee’s role and Higbee commands a larger target share. The point is – who really would have guessed that would happen, outside of the Ram’s Coaching Staff who did that if the Rams don’t come out and tell you that before the first snap? The 2% of Mundt owners likely rostered him because he was a healthy tight end at only $200 on Draft Kings. Did they have inside knowledge of what was going to happen? Maybe, but doubtful. The reason why I am saying all of this is not to put egg on my face for not mentioning him but to point out something I have mentioned before – risk. You have to take risk to win a DFS Tournament, calculated or not. You have to be lucky too but if you don’t take a risk and play a $200 player you have never heard sometime – might catch enough balls to make a difference for you. And next time when you are faced with a scenario like this, even if no one you read for advice for a player mentions an extremely cheap player who is going to play in a game – trust your guts and instincts. No one is going to laugh at you if you don’t win at DFS. We all don’t win all the time – but when we do …

Which will bring us to the matchup tonight. The Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers. Let’s do what we can to win some cash tonight, shall we? Two NFC South Teams that need a win. The Falcons at 1 – 6 with an interim head coach are trying to salvage a season that has started out pitifully while the Panthers at 3 – 4 are trying to catch up to the Saints at least for a potential wild card. So let’s talk.

The Atlanta Falcons

It had to be a heartbreaker for Matt Ryan to see his team fall to the Detroit Lions last week by 1 point on the final play of the game. The team was 1 – 0 following the dismissal of Coach Dan Quinn and had momentum for the first time all season long. Ryan was good in that game going completing 31 passes for 338 yards and a score. Ryan threw the ball 42 times last week and he has yet to throw the ball less than 35 times all season long, despite the defensive matchup he was encountering – so we should expect high passing volume from Matty Ice tonight. I’d normally like that a lot however when these two teams met earlier this season in Week 5, Ryan had not only his lowest passing yardage of the season (226 yards) but also his lowest completion percentage as well (56%) and he did not throw a touchdown but did throw an interception. The Panthers have been tough on QBs, especially lately so perhaps that shouldn’t come was a shock. The thing is the Falcons are so pass heavy on offense, it is tough to fade Matt Ryan and honestly he could be coming to get his win back and I always like a guy with a chip on his shoulder. Both quarterbacks tonight will be the highest owned players on the slate and the highest owned in the Captain/MVP spot. So first way I plan on being different is keeping Ryan and Bridgewater out of my Top spot in the lineup. I do think it will be tough to cash however without one or the other quarterback in the winning lineup as both are so integral to their offenses’ success.

I think you have to like Todd Gurley tonight though. Gurley has been solid especially over the last 4 games. In week 5 against this Carolina team he had a combined 140 yards and a rushing touchdown. He did that on a total of only 18 touches and I believe that the Falcons will trust Gurley to be Todd Gurley again tonight. There is a possibility that the Panthers will sell out to stop Gurley as who wants to be gashed for 140 yards – but if so, that will only open things up for Ryan and the pass catchers even more. So while I will have a heavy share of Gurley tonight, I am going to try to minimize my exposure to him and Ryan or a Falcons Wide Receiver as much as I can for that reason. I like Gurley tonight to put on a close to repeat performance and he is my favorite Falcon to use as a run back on a Panther’s stack. Gurley does project to have around 45% ownership but in a game with very concentrated attention on a handful of names that shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you are multi-entering tonight I think both RB Brian Hill and Ito Smith are ok to take shots on to be different, but barring injury this is Todd Gurley’s backfield. I like Gurley tonight.

Calvin Ridley has been magnificent this season, except for that 1 game he wasn’t (thanks Green Bay) and his Week 5 against the Panthers is a great example. 10 targets, 8 catches for 136 yards. It should be noted however that Julio Jones did not play in that game. What we have seen since Julio has been healthy on the field together is Ridley’s target share go down. In the two games without Julio on the field Ridley saw 13 and 10 targets (Week 2 and Week 5). Over the last two weeks however his targets have dropped to 7 while Jones’ have increased to 10 and 9 respectively. Look – neither guy is a bad play tonight. They each will be seeing both volume and high value targets, I like them stacked separately in multiple lineups with Ryan more than I do together in a single lineup. This could be Ridley’s night, it could be Julio’s and I could be making a mistake avoiding the double stack. To Ridley’s credit, he has a much more consistent touchdown record this season with 1 in each of the last 2 games and 4 total on the season including the first two weeks where he had 2 in each game. Julio’s two touchdowns came in the same game, week 6, when he returned. I give the edge to Ridley only due to the higher likelihood of a touchdown but it is only slight. Ridley is projected to be the highest owned Wide Receiver tonight as well.

If I am punting on the Atlanta side at Wide Receiver the only guy I am really looking at is Russell Gage who has emerged as the #3 for the Falcons – but well behind Ridley and Jones. Game has averaged around 5 targets a game and while his yardage isn’t breaking any records, he will play in 3 wide receiver sets and when in the Red Zone would have an opportunity to score if Ryan looks his way, so I don’t hate it. But at $4,200 on DK and $7,500 on FD you do have to consider opportunity cost for Gage. If he was a little cheaper I think he would be a lot chalkier, so it is a plus you will get him at sub 30% ownership but he is just expensive enough on DK and way to expensive on FD for me to heavily consider him outside of some dart throws across multi-entries.

While we do have some very cheap wide receivers also available in Atlanta, now that both Jones and Ridley or healthy, I can’t see where any may see more than 1 target. So I will be very light on Olamide Zaccheaus, Christian Blake and Brandon Powell. Yes all of them are cheap but as much chance as they have to catch 1 ball, is a chance they also catch no balls. Yes they will have 0% – 1% ownership tonight but in this case I think there is reason why no one is really looking at them. If suddenly Ridley or Jones are ruled out tonight, then I may take a few shots on Zaccheus – but that is in for me.

I don’t mind taking some shots on Hayden Hurst tonight either as over the last 5 weeks we have seen his targets steadily rise, but one thing to note – the Panthers are pretty good against the Tight Ends ranking 6th best in the league and allowing the 7th fewest yards to the position as well. Hurst is a very capable and athletic pass catcher however and while I can’t see a 100 yard game from him tonight, I could see a touchdown and 50 yards however and if his expected 17% ownership holds I like him as a contrarian piece to a Falcons stack with Ryan and Ridley or Julio.

To me an easy way to be contrarian here is to utilize Kicker Younghoe Koo who actually has been one of the most productive Falcons as scoring points all year. Koo is back from an injury and he could be right back in the driver seat having scored Double Digit points 3x already this season including in Week 5. Koo is coming in sub 15% ownership tonight on DK and 11% ownership on FanDuel. I like using Koo in a stack with Ryan and Julio or with Gurley as well. I don’t see either defense being that good but I do see the Kickers having a great opportunity tonight.

The Carolina Panthers

Teddy Bridgewater has been a man with a plan this season and a real gem for the Carolina Panthers this season and in Week 5 he threw for 313 and 2 scores. However why I really like Teddy is he also offers more rushing upside than Ryan on the other side of this game. In that game he ran 6 times for 32 yards and a Touchdown! While I don’t necessarily see another rushing touchdown coming from Teddy – I do like him a lot as Captain/MVP tonight. I don’t hate including Ryan as a flex with Teddy as Capatin/MVP either. Bridgewater is coming off another solid performance last week against a much tougher New Orleans defense, with 254 yards and 2 scores and I like Teddy’s chances tonight against the Atlanta secondary.

With the spector of Christian McCaffery looming, this may be the Mike Davis Swan song so go all in. Haha. No seriously. Davis has also been a diamond in the rough for the Panthers over the last 4 weeks seeing an average of 15 attempts on the ground and average of 6 targets as well. In Week 5 against Atlanta he had 18 carries for 89 yards and 9 targets for 60 and a score. Coming off a very tough week against the Saints tough run defense, I think a lot of people will be down on Davis tonight – but I won’t be. I could see Davis being very busy and I could even see Teddy and Company feature Davis even a little more usage to give him a thank you for admirably filling in while McCaffery was on the sidelines. Play Mike Davis.

Unlike what I was saying about Julio and Ridley, I actually also like the double stack of Robbie Anderson and DJ Moore a bit tonight. The Panthers have so many good stories coming out of this season and Robbie Anderson is another one. Believe it or not, Anderson is behind only DeAndre Hopkins in yardage this season with 640. He will be a popular play tonight against the Falcons who he took 12 targets for 112 yards in Week 5. The reason why I like the double stack though is because DJ Moore has found his way to stay as a big part of this offense and I think if ownership holds, he may be a contrarian piece to the puzzle. For three straight weeks Moore has had 93 yard games and over that span, 3 touchdowns and that includes Week 5 against Atlanta where Anderson (as mentioned) also went off. There is a real potential in a shootout for both of these guys to be over 100 yards and if so I think you’ll want both stacked with Teddy B.

In the same way I mentioned Russell Gage, I think having a few shots on Curtis Samuel if you are multi-entering, is a pretty good idea too. Samuel is seeing around 5 targets a game but I also like that the Panthers are giving him some shots out of the backfield as well and even though he is coming off a game with only one touch, going into that game he was averaging 3.5 touches on the season. In week 5 he ran the ball 4 times for 28 yards too. He is about $1,000 more than Gage tonight so you do need to weigh opportunity cost, but with so much ownership attention at the top – sneaking Samuel in where you can if multi-entering isn’t a bad contrarian play.

Similar to what I had mentioned about some of the cheap Falcons receivers, I can’t justify even $2,600 on DK for Tight End Ian Thomas. Over the last 3 weeks he has seen only a single target per game and I think a lot of that has to coincide with the reemergence of DJ Moore. I would rather look at using Kicker Joey Slye as a contrarian piece to Panthers stacks. Slye also has been a man on fire with his feet with 5 of 7 games ending with Double Digit fantasy points including Week 5 in Atlanta. I likely won’t be double stacking kickers in this game, but I do like each kicker to be a third or fourth man in team stacks.

You can always take a shot on defenses in 2020 NFL but unlike Monday night, I would not put a defense in the Captain/MVP space. I just don’t see either defense producing the points you will need. However Interceptions, Fumbles, Sacks, Kick Returns – anything is possible. If you are running a 5 man team onslaught type stack – use their defense too as a contrarian piece to the lineup if you are multi-entering.

Good Luck in your Contests!

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