NFL Week 1 Panthers at Falcons: DFS & Fantasy Preview
Betting Line: Falcons – 3
Last year, the Falcons led the NFL in rushing attempts, leading to 2,718 yards and 17 scores on the ground. The addition of Bijan Robinson bodes well for repeated success running the ball, but Atlanta needs Desmond Ridder to prove he can move the chains with his arm.
Carolina opens up the season with a rookie quarterback (Bryce Young), who had plenty of success in his time in Alabama. The Panthers don’t have a true WR1, with multiple options vying for targets each week. In 2022, they ran the ball 483 times (12th), leading to a fast-moving clock.
Note: The fantasy points per $1,000 are based on the early projections for Week 1.
The above grid shows the top players excepted to contribute in Week 1 in the fantasy games. I listed each player’s salary at DraftKings and FanDuel, plus their fantasy points expected per $1,000 of salary invested. In GPP (grand prize pools) events, the goal is to find players with a chance to score four times their salary at DraftKings ($50,000 salary cap and three times at FanDuel ($60,000 salary cap).
- Over his first four NFL starts, he went 2-2 while averaging 177 passes. He has two career passing touchdowns (none on the ground).
- I expect him to be active in the run game. He must snipe a rushing score to support his lower-tier salary.
- The Falcons only have one competitive receiving option (Drake London) in Week 1, as I expect the Falcons to limit the snaps of Kyle Pitts early in the season.
- A Ridder/London requires about 42.00 points at DraftKings and 38.00 at FanDuel to be in play.
- I need to see Ridder have success passing the ball before riding in the daily games.
- He has the fourth-highest running back salary at DraftKings and sixth at FanDuel.
- For the running backs on the main slate in Week 1, Robinson has the highest rating in FP/1000 (2.55) at FanDuel while ranking well at DraftKings (2.68).
- I view him as a strong play in Week 1. He offers three-down ability with a high probability of scoring vs. the Panthers. With a pair of touchdowns, Robinson has a good chance of being on the winning ticket in his first NFL start.
- Must start in all formats in the season-long games.
- Last year, he played well over the final four games (79/431/2 with six catches for 52 yards). The Falcons will rotate him on about 35% of their plays, but Allgeier needs a blowout game to be a viable option at his current price point.
- In the early draft season in the high-stakes market, London is the 24th wideout off the table. He played well in his rookie season (72/866/4 on 117 targets), highlighted by his final five starts (6/95, 7/70, 7/96, 5/47, and 6/120). The last four outcomes came with Desmond Ridder at quarterback.
- London needs a 6/90/1 game to fill his salary bucket.
- I’m starting London in all leagues that use three wide receiver slots in their starting lineup.
- In his fifth season in the NFL, Hollins posted his best year (57/690/4) with the Raiders. Over his previous 65 games, he only had 56 catches for 750 yards and six touchdowns.
- Hollins had one impact game (8/158/1) in 2022.
- I don’t see a high volume of targets requiring him to hit on a long score to pay off.
- In his rookie season (68/1,026/1 on 110 targets), Pitts was a big part of the Falcons’ offense. Atlanta threw the ball 573 times in 2021, compared to 415 last season (a drop of 27.6%). Based on this path, Pitts would have finished with 49 catches for 744 yards with the same opportunity in 2022.
- I don’t see a significant jump in pass attempts for the Falcons this year, and Pitts is coming off a significant knee injury. I expect him to be limited out of the gate, but his salary is low enough to be in play with a 3/40/1 game. Coin toss only while waiting for an update on his role/opportunity in Week 1.
Here are some notes from my preseason write-up for the Carolina Panthers Defense.
- 18th vs. the run in 2022 with 17 rushing touchdowns
- 23rd against the pass with 25 scores, 10 interceptions, and 35 sacks
- Weakness on the defensive line, with the linebacking corps being a strength. Their secondary has some question marks coming into 2023.
- First NFL start after tossing 79 touchdowns and 12 interceptions over his final 27 games at Alabama.
- He won’t be a significant player rushing the ball.
- To reach a playable number at DraftKings and FanDuel, Young needs at least 250 passing yards and two scores with some value on the ground.
- His receiving lacks a star out of the gate, leading to him spreading the ball around to multiple receiving options.
- In both formats, Sanders needs about 22.00 fantasy points to fill his fantasy bucket. He reached that level (29.60, 31.00, and 28.50) three times in 202s, helped by scoring six of his 11 touchdowns in those matchups.
- The Panthers will rotate in a second running back, requiring Sanders to be more active in the passing game (28, 26, and 20 catches over the past three seasons) to post a winning score.
- He can sometimes hit on a long TD, keeping him alive in some matchups if Carolina can play from the lead.
- I view him as overpriced in the daily games in Week 1.
- Hubbard had three catches in three of his final five games in 2022. He led the Panthers in running back snaps from Week 15 to Week 18 last season.
- His best two games (18.90 and 15.30) in fantasy points in PPR formats barely support his opening salary while taking a back seat in touches to Miles Sanders.
- Fade in the daily games and sit in the season-long contests.
- Thielen goes from a high-volume passing attack to a rebuilding offense. His route running and hands give him WR1 targets in Week 1 for the Panthers despite a sliding skill set.
- He scored in his final preseason game (4/48/1). Thielen needs a 6/70/1 game to be viable in the daily games. I like him better at DraftKings. If you are shopping in his salary range, Thielen has a reasonable chance of coming in.
- Chark suffered a hamstring injury in August. I downgraded him in my early Week 1 projections while waiting for an update on his status. I’m fading him out of the gate.
- His size (6’2” and 220 lbs.) invites scoring upside once Mingo establishes himself in the upper tier of the Panthers’ wide receiver rotation.
- If DJ Chark and/or Terrace Marshall sit out in Week 1, Mingo is priced low enough to be a cheat wide receiver fill-in.
- A back issue has limited Marshall in August. The Panthers hope to have him ready for Week 1.
- He has a big play profile with two years of experience in the NFL.
- Overpriced at FanDuel, but a similar dart at Jonathan Mingo in Week 1 if Marshall is removed from the injury report.
- Carolina has barely used their tight ends over the past three seasons (26/196/2, 45/452/1, and 42/417/3), making it challenging to believe in Hurst in any fantasy format in 2023.
- He gained only 8.1 yards per catch over his last 78 catches, with five touchdowns over those 26 games.
Here are some notes from my preseason write-up for the Atlanta Falcons Defense:
- 23rd vs. the run with 15 rushing touchdowns
- 25th against the pass with 26 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 21 sacks
- The lack of pass rush by the Falcons could be a win for Bryce Young in his first NFL start.
- CB Jeff Okudah shouldn’t play in Week 1.
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