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Best DFS lineup strategy for Panthers-Texans on Thursday night

The Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans face off on Thursday Night Football to open Week 3. We take a look at the best plays for the DraftKings Showdown

Will Carolina and Houston score 43 or more combined on Thursday?

The Panthers have probably been the surprise team of 2021, but the Texans aren’t that far behind in the surprise rankings. Unfortunately for Houston, injuries have likely pushed them back to the pack of teams that look better than expected.

Tyrod Taylor had the Texans winning and competing through six quarters, but a hamstring injury has put him on I.R. for at least three weeks. And without a seasoned backup, the Texans will go with rookie quarterback Davis Mills. Mills wasn’t that good in college and wasn’t very good in the second half against the Browns in Week 2. It will be tough to recommend Texans in fantasy this week, but will need to slot somebody in for the TNF Showdown.

Injuries

Tyros Taylor, QB, Texans

Taylor is out with a hamstring injury. Davis Mills will get the start.

Nico Collins, Danny Amendola, WRs, Texans

Collins has also been put on I.R. and will miss this game while Amendola will be out 2-3 weeks with a hamstring injury. This will put Chris Conley as an every down receiver and give Andre Roberts a boost in snaps.

Captain’s Chair

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers — $20,100

McCaffrey is the obvious choice on too many levels. The Texans run defense ranks 31st in Football Outsiders DVOA while their pass defense ranks fifth. McCaffrey should have his way in a game where the Texans shouldn’t be able to put up many points to push them to throw in the second half. And through two games he’s touched the ball 59 times on 60 opportunities. Next most goes to D.J. Moore with 15 touches on 20 opportunities.

D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers — $15,900

McCaffrey, Moore and Sam Darnold are the Panthers players with the most usage by far. McCaffrey is a ball hog, while Moore leads the team with 19 targets and 14 receptions. Next on that list is a tie between Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall with nine targets through two games.

Value Plays

Terrace Marshall, WR, Panthers— $4,000

This is where you win or lose in this Showdown. If you go with CMC at captain, then Moore and Darnold, you’ll only have $8,100 left for three players. Picking those three could be the key. The Panthers spread the ball around a lot after their Top 2 players and last week we saw Terrace Marshall lose some snaps to Brandon Zylstra. But in the end, Marshall still ran 28 routes to Zylstra’s eight. Robby Anderson is safer, but his price makes it difficult to roll with McCaffrey, which I don’t think you can get around in this matchup.

Chris Conley, WR, Texans — $1,600
David Johnson, RB, Texans — $5,400

Brandon Cooks is the Texans No. 1 receiver and easily their best player through eight quarters. But with the addition of Mills at quarterback, I don’t think I want to pay up $10,000 to roster him. For me, the Texans plays come down to Conley, who will be an every down receiver with Nico Collins and Danny Amendola out, and David Johnson, who will be the check down back if the Texans are playing from behind.