The Falcons and Panthers face off for the second time this month on Thursday night. The Falcons will look to improve their disappointing 1-6 record, while the Panthers will look to become one step closer to a winning record as they currently sit at 3-4. The last time these teams faced off against one another on October 11, the Panthers came away with a 23-16 win. We take a closer look into this match-up and help you decide which players from this particular game belong in starting lineups.
In fantasy points allowed to opponents, the Falcons rank 32nd vs. QBs, 14th vs. RBs, 30th vs. WRs, and 32nd against TEs. The Panthers rank 9th vs QBs, 31st against RBs, 7th against WRs, and 11th vs. TEs.
The Falcons defense is ranked 32nd against the pass and 6th against the run. The Panthers defense is currently ranked 18th against the pass and 23rd against the run.
There are certain players that are match-up proof and will be a must start any week that they are healthy, such as Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Below, we’ll take a look at some borderline players and suggest who to start and sit in a regular 12-team .5 PPR league.
Todd Gurley, RB, Falcons
The Panthers have struggled against the run so far this season, and Gurley capitalized on that in Week 5, as he ran for 121 yards and one touchdown for his highest fantasy point total of the season. He will look to repeat this performance in Week 8 as he comes off of a two touchdown outing in Week 7. Gurley’s volume has been steady so far this season and when that is combined with this favorable match-up with the Panther’s rush defense it makes starting him a no brainer.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Panthers
Bridgewater is often a fringe starter at best this season, as he currently ranks 20th in scoring at the QB position. His ranking doesn’t make him sound appealing as a starter, but his match-up with Atlanta, the QB-friendliest defense in the league, should. Bridgewater is averaging 16.9 fantasy points per game and is coming off a decent performance in which he completed 23 of 28 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns against a much more capable Saints defense. Bridgewater is showing great chemistry with Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Mike Davis. If there is ever a week to insert him in your starting lineup, this is it.
Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore, WRs, Panthers
As was mentioned earlier, the Falcons secondary is a quarterback’s best friend. It only makes sense that this defense also has an amicable relationship with wide receivers. During the last match-up between the Falcons and the Panthers there was room for success for each of these receivers. Anderson finished the game with eight receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown, while Moore finished with four receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. Though each of these receivers are typically borderline WR2, they each become borderline WR1 in this exceptional match-up.
Hayden Hurst, TE, Falcons
Hurst is coming off of back to back solid outings in Weeks 6 and 7, as he had 10 receptions, including one touchdown, for a total of 135 yards and an average of 14.25 PPR points in that span. These are solid numbers for the TE position, but it can not be overlooked that the week prior to that Hurst recorded only two receptions for eight yards against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are tough against TE’s and Hurst’s upside is limited this week. He may be best left on the bench unless you are in a bye week pickle.
Ian Thomas, TE, Panthers
It appears that Thursday night’s matchup is not a favorable one for TEs on either side. Thomas’s reason to remain on the bench is more a result of low usage, as the match-up with the Falcons’ defense is actually particularly favorable. Though typically this is a macthup to exploit, however the Panthers have not shown enough of a commitment to targeting the tight end position to trust Thomas in your lineup. It’s hard to capitalize on a porous defense when targets are so difficult to come by. There are most likely better options out there for you at the position, even in a bye week.