Thursday Night Matchups Analysis (Week 6)

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So much for a high-flying battle in Tampa...

The showdown in Week 5 between one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady and a young gun on the rise in Jameis Winston had a few less touchdowns than many had predicted, with New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski scoring 13 of the team's 19 total points. For many fantasy owners, the return of Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin signaled a much-needed boost for their rosters as he put together a 13 attempt, 74-yard performance that included a touchdown. Still, football fans were left wanting more after watching Thursday's game simply from imagining what could have been.

With the Philadelphia Eagles heading to Carolina for the Week 6 Thursday Night Football game, the question arises whether or not this matchup could help to satiate those who were hoping for a higher scoring game last week. Both quarterbacks are coming off of 300-plus yard performances and have the weapons around them to make plays. We could be in store for a shootout between two 4 win-1 loss teams, making closer analysis for fantasy football purposes that much more important!

Editor's Note: For a limited time only, our Premium Tools - including DFS cheat sheets, expert lineups, and matchup ratings - are only $9.99 for the rest of the season! Sign Up Now!

 

Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers

Date and Start Time: Thursday, October 12 at 8:25 PM ET

Notable Injuries and Status:

  • Ronald Darby (CB, PHI) - Ankle - Inactive
  • Lane Johnson (OT, PHI) - Concussion - Inactive
  • Wendell Smallwood (RB, PHI) - Knee - Active
  • Fletcher Cox (DT, PHI) - Calf - Active
  • Kurt Coleman (S, CAR) - Knee - Inactive
  • Ryan Kalil (C, CAR) - Neck - Inactive

 

Offensive and Defensive Rankings (2017):

Eagles Panthers
Passing Yards  8th 3rd
Rushing Yards  5th  19th
Pass Defense  29th  5th
Run  Defense  2nd  6th

 
 

Must Starts

Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup

Zach Ertz (TE, PHI)

Now that the undisputed No. 1 fantasy tight end, Rob Gronkowski, is dealing with a nagging injury, Ertz is making the case to steal that spot as one of the most consistent playmakers at the position. He has caught no fewer than five passes per game game through five weeks of regular season action and is Philadelphia's leader in red zone targets, meaning his role is here to stay as quarterback Carson Wentz' security blanket.

Cam Newton (QB, CAR)

The Philadelphia Eagles' secondary is ripe for exploitation and Newton has thrown for over 300 passing yards in his previous two games. Owners who have Newton as their No. 1 option should definitely trust him this week given his recent hot streak and the potential for rushing attempts to serve as a useful buffer. The Eagles haven't faced a truly proficient dual-threat quarterback in 2017 and Newton will serve as one heck of a welcoming party.

Kelvin Benjamin (WR, CAR)

The Philadelphia Eagles are relatively thin at the cornerback position and have had trouble dealing with big-bodied wide receivers a-la Odell Beckham Jr. and Terrelle Pryor Sr., giving up a combined 16 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns to those two alone. While Benjamin is nowhere near the same physical freak as Beckham, he has a guaranteed floor in PPR due to his hefty target share (16-percent, third-most on the team) accompanied by touchdown upside without tight end Greg Olsen in the starting lineup. He should churn out high-end WR2 production in a game that has the potential to be a shootout.

 

Must Sits

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup

LeGarrette Blount (RB, PHI)

With the potential return of fellow runner Wendell Smallwood and a tough road date with one of the league's more imposing run defenses, Blount's Week 6 prospects do not look good unless Philadelphia manages to accumulate an early lead. If fellow running back Wendell Smallwood is out, volume alone should help him to stumble for a touchdown or two given how effective the Eagles' offensive line has been. That situation will be critical for Blount owners to follow should they wish to start him on Thursday night.

Alshon Jeffery (WR, PHI)

Jeffery was shadowed by one of the undisputed top cover-corners in Patrick Peterson last week, so owners are expecting his output to improve against a mediocre Panther's cornerback group. I'm a bit more skeptical, however, as far as his usage is concerned given both opposing team's focus on eliminating him from the game plan and Wentz's propensity to spread the football around. Jeffery catches fewer than 50 percent of the passes thrown his way despite seeing more snaps than any other wide receiver on the Eagles, not a very promising figure given how exceptional his quarterback has played as of late. This is one of the sits that fantasy owners will have to make at their discretion, but those who can afford to do so would do well to let Jeffery ride the pine this week.

Jonathan Stewart (RB, CAR)

The Carolina offensive gameplan looks to be trending in the wrong direction for Stewart, with rookie running back Christian McCaffrey playing on 70-percent of offensive snaps to Stewart's 42-percent to this point in 2017. Despite receiving the bulk of the team's rushing workload, he has yet to find pay-dirt since a receiving touchdown in Week 1 and hasn't put up outstanding yardage in that time (50.2 yards per game). An ankle injury he suffered in Week 5 could further serve to limit his reps and hinder his production, making J-Stew a tough sell on Thursday night against a stout Eagles front-seven.

Other Notable Sits: Wendell Smallwood (RB, PHI), Ed Dickson (TE, CAR)

 

Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option: Carson Wentz (QB, PHI)

The keys to the Philadelphia offense were handed over to Wentz last week against Arizona and he did not disappoint.  In a game in which he threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns, Wentz showed off his deep ball proficiency by completing 59-yard and 72-yard touchdown passes to wideouts Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor respectively. His current QB6 ranking is emblematic of a near every week starter, but the lack of a truly proficient run game could prove to be especially problematic against Carolina's stingy defense. Certainly, don't expect a repeat of Week 6's performance from Wentz.

Solid Option: Devin Funchess (WR, CAR)

Funchess has led the Carolina receiving core in targets over the last three games, suggesting quarterback Cam Newton is getting a lot more comfortable with throwing to the 6'4, 225 lb wideout when the ground game becomes a liability. With Benjamin drawing the tougher coverage matchups, it looks as if Funchess is here to stay as a hot fantasy commodity for another few weeks while tight end Greg Olsen returns to full health.

Sleeper: Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

Many McCaffrey owners have realized by this point that the Stanford product is equating more to an RB-2/flex option than a week-in, week-out starter. Although he provides an added dimension to the offense as a whole, he simply doesn't have enough volume (especially outside of PPR formats) to be a fantasy stud. In a matchup with Philadelphia's second-ranked run defense, I would expect McCaffrey to out-touch teammate Jonathan Stewart when Carolina needs a spark to the offense and produce a respectable performance through the air at a minimum.

Other Notable Sleepers: Nelson Agholor (WR, PHI)

 

More Week 6 Lineup Prep