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If you had told me San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens would throw for over 250 yards and three touchdowns in his first taste of NFL action, I would have called you crazy. Yet here we are, scratching our heads about how the Oakland Raiders only managed to generate 242 yards of total offense in a 34-3 loss last Thursday. After his exceptional first showing, Mullens should be the starting quarterback for the 49ers going forward if at a minimum to see what they have in the young gun.

Two highly competitive teams in the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers will go head to head in Week 10's iteration of Thursday Night Football. That both teams have prolific offenses means not only the potential for an exciting game, but many opportunities for fantasy owners to celebrate their starting players finding the end zone.

Let's talk Thursday Night Football Matchup Analysis for Week 10!

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Carolina Panthers @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Date and Start Time: Thursday, November 8 at 8:00 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

 

Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Panthers Steelers
Passing Yards 22nd 4th
Rushing Yards 2nd 22nd
Pass Defense 19th 21st
Rush Defense 8th 6th

 

Must Starts

Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup

Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

The running back rotation in Carolina is a one-man show, with McCaffrey receiving 54 percent of their rush attempts and nearly 23 percent of their targets. His hot streak of four scores over his past two games is somewhat tough to ride given how the most scrimmage yards the Pittsburgh Steelers have given up is 84 yards to Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon back in Week 6, but McCaffrey's usage will prevent him from being scripted out of the game.

James Conner (RB, PIT)

The volume that provided a safe floor and exceptional production that fantasy owners expected from Le'Veon Bell is now defining Connor's fantasy football season. He is the first Pittsburgh Steelers player to have 100-yards rushing with any touchdown in four straight games since Franco Harris in 1972 and should remain locked and loaded in fantasy lineups against a Carolina Panthers crew that hasn't faced an elite running back in nearly three weeks.

Antonio Brown/JuJu Smith-Schuster (WRs, PIT)

Brown has posted at least one touchdown in every game but one this season and shouldn't ever be considered a sit option when healthy. While Smith-Schuster's matchup is especially juicy given how the Carolina Panthers are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing wideouts from the slot on the season, both Pittsburgh Steeler wideouts are great options in Week 10.

 

Consider Sitting

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup If Possible

Devin Funchess (WR, CAR)

As far as the Carolina Panthers wide receiver core goes, it appears as if Funchess is fading back into a highly touchdown-dependent fantasy option after posting solid numbers through the first seven weeks of the season. Now that tight end Greg Olsen is returning to form and the Panthers appear to be looking to their younger, more explosive wide receivers in the passing game, Funchess is one to consider leaving on the bench for Thursday night.

Other Notable Sit Candidates: Curtis Samuel (WR, CAR)

 

Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option: Cam Newton (QB, CAR)

Now that he has developed into a consistent rhythm, Newton has been an exceptional play for fantasy owners with two passing touchdowns in each of his past six games. While the Pittsburgh Steelers have certainly become more potent on the defensive side of the ball with plenty of pressure packages to scare opposing quarterbacks, the dual-threat ability that Newton possesses and a game script that should encourage plenty of throws means riding the hot hand is easier than ever.

Solid Option: Greg Olsen (TE, CAR)

Fantasy owners are hoping that the Olsen of old has finally returned. He hasĀ been the TE-6 and TE-5 over the past two weeks while catching all 10 of his targets for 132 yards and is in line to continue to produce against a Pittsburgh Steelers defense that gives up the second most receptions to the position.

Solid Option: Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)

Roethlisberger has performed noticeably better at home than on the road, finishing as a top-five scorer in six of his past eight prime-time games at home. The Carolina Panthers have seven games on the year in which they gave up multiple touchdown passes, but defensive back James Bradberry is fully capable of shadowing a team's top receiving option as evidenced by Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans being held to just one catch in Week 9. That isn't to say that Roethlisberger can't have a good game, though the passing numbers may be stifled as the Pittsburgh Steelers attempt to establish the ground game.

Sleeper: D.J. Moore (WR, CAR)

Moore followed up what was a solid five reception, 90-yard game in Week 8 with a clunker against Tampa Bay's vulnerable secondary, slowing the hype train for the rookie being heavily involved in the Carolina Panthers passing attack. That being said, he was on the field for 85.5 percent of the offensive snaps and could see more work if the Panthers trail.

Other Notable Sleepers: Vance McDonald (TE, PIT)

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