The Thursday night matchup for Week 10 is a rematch of two teams that just squared off in Week 8. While that game was full of points and offensive production, the Thursday Night Football Preview: Week 10 isn’t optimistic that we’ll see a repeat.
Carolina is coming off of an abysmal showing that was far worse than the box score indicates. Meanwhile, the Falcons are banged up on defense and just dropped a close game to the Chargers.
That previous game saw the Falcons prevail 37-34. And that’s where the opening line is. Atlanta is favored by 2.5 on the road. But with an over/under of 42.5, the rematch is tougher to handicap.
Arthur Smith’s Falcons have overcome the odds in an unconventional way. Behind PFF’s No. 3 run-blocking line, Atlanta utilizes multiple running backs and their quarterback to slow down games, convert first downs, and keep their struggling defense off the field as much as possible.
And that formula is working. Smith’s Falcons have overachieved and find themselves tied for the lead in the woeful NFC South.
Their rivals from Carolina haven’t had the same kind of success. Dreadful quarterback play sealed the fate of Matt Rhule. But Rhule wasn’t the only coach to lose his job this season.
The Panthers are in disarray and looking at beginning a long rebuild as soon as the 2022 season concludes.
Coming off a disastrous loss to Cincinnati, Carolina can only hope to play spoiler from here on out.
Despite ranking just 24th in attempts, QB Marcus Mariota is having a solid fantasy season. Of course, a large part of that is because Mariota has rushed for 304 yards and three scores. Overall, Mariota is the QB14 entering Week 10 and gets a rematch with a team that provided Mariota’s best fantasy performance just two weeks ago.
Along with Mariota, the Falcons have three running backs with ~300 rushing yards. Cordarrelle Patterson returned from a lengthy absence last week. Patterson immediately led the backfield with 24 snaps and turned 14 touches into 53 yards and two touchdowns.
Patterson should be viewed as a solid RB2 with RB1 upside facing a Carolina defense ceding the third-most fantasy points to running backs.
However, Patterson won’t be the only Falcons’ back involved. Tyler Allgeier played one less snap than Patterson but generated 85 yards on 17 touches Sunday. Assuming the Falcons stick with this 1-2 punch, Allgeier is worth a look as an RB4/flex option.
Caleb Huntley is the other Atlanta running back that has been a useful fantasy producer. However, Huntley only played 13 snaps after Patterson returned. Overall, Huntley has been solid, but he appears to be off of the fantasy radar as the third back.
No. 8 overall pick Drake London is the best bet to lead Atlanta in targets and receptions. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean Drake is a must-start in fantasy leagues. Because the rookie wideout hasn’t hit eight PPR points in a game since Week 3. Even in that 37-34 shootout between these NFC South rivals two weeks ago Drake was held to 31 scoreless yards on seven targets.
That lack of upside makes London more of a middling WR4 than a locked-in starter.
No other Atlanta wideout should be anywhere near fantasy lineups. Olamide Zaccheaus and Damiere Byrd are little more than inexpensive DFS dart throws will very low floors.
TE Kyle Pitts offers some potential at a premium position. But, Pitts has been hurt by the lack of available volume. Although Pitts ranks 12th with 46 targets, he enters Week 10 as the overall TE19. Pitts has exceeded double-digit fantasy points just twice and has been held under 5 points a whopping five times.
P.J. Walker was named the starter in this game. But, safe to say Walker’s grasp on that starting gig is a short one. Baker Mayfield came off the bench in Sunday’s blowout and led Carolina to multiple scoring drives.
Atlanta will once again be without top cornerback A.J Terell. That and a sagging pass rush that PFF ranks 32nd in football should give the Panthers plenty of opportunities. The biggest question will be can they take advantage?
Chuba Hubbard is expected to return after a two-game absence. When last active, Hubbard was in on 46% of Carolina’s snaps and was slightly more effective than D’Onta Foreman.
Speaking of Foreman, he should lead Carolina in rushes and be frothing at the mouth for a rematch with the Falcons. Foreman ran for 118 yards and three scores against the Falcons in Week 8.
View Foreman as a solid RB2/3 and Hubbard as a potential DFS option on Thursday.
WR D.J. Moore is the best bet to lead all players in targets in this one. After a rough start, Moore was having a superb resurgence before last week’s dud. However, like Foreman, Moore’s best game of the season came against the very same Atlanta secondary. And, the Falcons are still down their best corner.
Terrace Marshall Jr. has had 15 targets over his past two games. Also, the sophomore wideout has also topped 50 yards in back-to-back contests. View Marshall as a decent bye-week fill-in with some appeal in DFS lineups.
The Panthers will use multiple tight ends. But not necessarily effectively. Tommy Tremble leads the group in snaps and targets but comes in as just TE37 for the season.
Prediction & Best Bet
It is difficult to get a good read on this contest. Combined, these two squads are a svelte 9-9 against the spread and 9-9 on the total.
Atlanta has been the better team, both straight up and with a 6-3 ATS mark. Also, the Falcons have won eight of their last 10 against Carolina. That includes 5-of-6 straight up and versus the spread at Bank of America Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Panthers have only won two of their last 16 contests. Furthermore, they’re 3-13 against the spread during that streak. Carolina has also dropped nine of their last 11 home games.
Atlanta has also covered 10 of their last 14 overall versus Carolina.
There is also a strong lean on the under in this series, but it feels safer to simply snag the Falcons as small road favorites against a struggling opponent they’ve been able to dispatch easily.
Best Bet: Atlanta -2.5