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Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 2

Well, that wasn't exactly the opening night we were expecting.

The first Thursday Night Football matchup of 2019 didn't live up to the hype of the historic rivalry between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, with only 467 total yards of offense across both squads. Nonetheless, there were some notable fantasy performances from Packers wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling (four receptions, 52 receiving yards) and tight end Jimmy Graham (three receptions, 30 receiving yards, one touchdown).

For this Thursday, we shift divisions from the NFC North to the NFC South with a showdown between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers. Let's dive into Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis for Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season!

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers

Date and Start Time: September 12 at 8:00 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

  • Ronald Jones (RB, TB) - Toe - Active
  • O.J. Howard (TE, TB) - Ankle - Active
  • Greg Olsen (TE, CAR) - Back - Questionable (expected to play)


Offensive and Defensive Rankings in 2019:

Buccaneers Panthers
Passing Yards 26th 21st
Rushing Yards 13th 9th
Pass Defense 3rd 9th
Rush Defense 13th 28th


Must Starts

Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineups

Mike Evans (WR, TB)

The entire Tampa Bay offense could not get rolling in their opening game, with their man under center failing to eclipse 200 passing yards on 36 pass attempts. Nonetheless, fantasy owners should avoid jumping to any conclusions about Evans especially given the fact that he was dealing with an illness come game time.

Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

McCaffrey is truly the definition of a workhorse back, playing on 100% of his team’s snaps and receiving 27 touches in Week 1. Barring injury, the shifty runner should remain a fixture in fantasy lineups.


Solid Options and Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option: Chris Godwin (WR, TB)

Amid all the offensive ineptitude put on display by the Buccaneers in their opener, Godwin showed plenty of promise by leading the team in targets and making a touchdown grab. He should have a safe target floor on a weekly basis.

Solid Option: O.J. Howard (TE, TB)

There are certainly concerns about Howard's touchdown upside considering his fellow tight end Cameron Brate had more red-zone targets than him in their previous outing, but his expanded role is still developing. Pro Football Focus gave Howard third-highest receiving grade (90.0) and the third-best yards per route run figure (2.26) among qualifying tight ends last season, so a little patience will pay off in the long run.

Solid Option: Cam Newton (QB, CAR)

Newton's struggles in Week 1 shouldn't deter fantasy owners from starting him in this one. It is noteworthy that after Week 11 last season, the only quarterback to pass for multiple scores against the Rams (including the postseason) was Drew Brees in the Conference Championship.

Solid Option: D.J. Moore (WR, CAR)

If quarterback Cam Newton continues to look Moore's way, this Thursday Night Football game should be one where Moore shows us his upside as a WR2 against a porous Buccaneers Defense.

Sleeper: Cameron Brate (TE, TB)

Brate caught two touchdowns last week which were called back and was tied for the most red-zone targets on his team next to only wideout Chris Godwin. Fantasy owners looking for touchdown upside can turn to Brate as an option in this one.

Sleeper: Curtis Samuel (WR, CAR)

It was tough sledding for Samuel against the Los Angeles Rams last week. His big-play ability makes him a boom or bust type of wide receiver, but he will need to get a few more looks than his four targets (which fell behind three other Panthers pass-catchers) to be a regular contributor in fantasy football.


Consider Sitting

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup If Possible

Jameis Winston (QB, TB)

A juicy matchup with the San Francisco 49ers last week yielded little in the way of fantasy points for those who started Winston. If he manages to perform well against a middle of the road Carolina passing defense, fantasy owners might be able to trust him enough to start him.

Tampa Bay Running Backs

Setting aside the lack of an offensive line and concerns with Tampa's starting quarterback, the running back splits between Peyton Barber (13 rushes, one reception) and Ronald Jones (eight rushes, three receptions) last week will cap their individual upsides for fantasy purposes.

Greg Olsen (TE, CAR)

Olsen looked like his vintage self in Week 1, playing on over 90 percent of the Panthers' snaps and being targeted nine times. Unfortunately, a back injury and short week to recover leave little time for the veteran tight end to prepare for Thursday night. Reports indicate he is "expected to play" but a pre-game setback is always possible. A snap count could also very well be within the realm of possibilities, limiting his upside.

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