Matchup Analysis: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Panthers 19, Falcons 25

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Carolina Panthers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Panthers Offense16.0 (-7.9) (26)147 (+33) (6)146 (-91) (28)
Falcons Defense18.0 (-5.9) (10)113 (+0) (15)119 (-118) (2)

Atlanta Falcons Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Falcons Offense12.0 (-11.9) (29)74 (-39) (27)225 (-12) (18)
Panthers Defense8.0 (-15.9) (3)94 (-19) (10)138 (-99) (3)

Panthers Rushing offense

Good matchup vs. the Falcons defense.

The Carolina backfield is, by early account, a three-man monster. And like they always do, the team has assembled three runners of differing skills that combine for a fresh, diverse attack. Christian McCaffrey looked far more like the explosive runner he was late last season than the plodder he was to open his career. And C.J. Anderson proved a steady hand behind him as each averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Cam Newton was his typical self, running called and non-called plays with abandon. Unfazed by a half-careers worth of hits, Newton insists upon taking over games with his legs as his 29-yard scamper was a thing of beauty that should’ve set up a short touchdown. The banged-up front line, though, makes this a dicier Week 2 play than some. They overachieved in Week 1, sealing holes left and right, but promptly lost right tackle Daryl Williams to injury.

TThe Falcons run defense took two devastating blows this week, losing their two most valuable run defenders in one fell swoop. Linebacker Deion Jones and Keanu Neal were both lost to season-ending injuries, robbing this ho-hum unit of virtually all its dynamism. There were positives elsewhere, as the team did manage to hold a strong Eagles ground game to very little. Nose tackle Grady Jarrett, for example, built on his strong 2017, jamming the middle well and stifling Jay Ajayi on numerous inside runs. But the unit needed help on the edges, as we saw on Ajayi’s late touchdown, even before Jones and Neal are counted out. Over the Falcons’ last 17 contests, only 2 backs (Ajayi and Todd Gurley) have totaled more than 76 yards. But the floodgates could open now.

Panthers Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Falcons defense.

Cam Newton simply couldn’t get the passing game going in Week 1. Downfield targets Devin Funchess and D.J. Moore committed a few mistakes, and tight end Greg Olsen was lost in the first half to a foot injury. Olsen, in a boot and on crutches shortly after the injury, looks done for an extended period. For the time being, it appears the Carolina pass game will revolve around getting the ball to Christian McCaffrey in space – he drew 9 of Newton’s 26 looks Sunday – and occasionally pushing the ball downfield to Funchess and Moore. But this isn’t a particularly creative facet of the Panthers attack when play-action and deep routes aren’t succeeding, it’s typically a rough day. There’s plenty of upside, though, for any matchup. Funchess is a true touchdown-maker (a whopping 17 scores on 120 career catches), and McCaffrey is a threat to score on every touch. Anything Moore contributes – he didn’t draw a target in Week 1 – can push them over the top at any moment. It’s just best to expect cohesion pains with Olsen out. Newton struggled mightily at times without his security blanket last year.

Atlanta’s pass defense performed well in Week 1, limiting the Eagles to just 132 yards through the air. But it wasn’t exactly cause for celebration. With Nick Foles in for Carson Wentz, the shell-shocked Eagles refused to open up the playbook, and all the Falcons had to do was tackle Foles’ constant check-down throws consistently. They’ll face a much stiffer test in Week 2 against Cam Newton and his newfound bevy of weapons, though. And they’ll do it without two key cogs: linebacker Deion Jones, an ascending star as a coverage man, and strong safety Keanu Neal were lost for the year in Week 1. The Falcons will need more of a pass rush to keep things in check – Foles was rarely pressured, and a better quarterback could’ve made them pay dearly. Edge rusher Vic Beasley has been an invisible man since his monstrous 2016 season; if he can’t spearhead a pressuring unit, the coverage will sag and opposing passers will start posting strong lines.

Falcons Rushing offense

Bad matchup vs. the Panthers defense.

The Falcons running game was a no-show in Week 1, managing just 55 yards on 15 runs by the backs. But they shouldn’t feel bad – the Philadelphia run defense is a truly menacing unit, and they’re far from the first run game to vanish against them. Going forward, there are better days to come. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman make for a diverse attack, one capable of both ball-control grinding and big-play dynamism. Coleman, especially, is a spark plug as over the past 3 seasons, he’s produced 23 runs of 15 yards or more – an impressive total for a part-timer. The two run behind an experienced front line that’s been almost entirely together for the better part of four years. When the Falcons take on front sevens not as suffocating as the Eagles – and the Buccaneers certainly are not – they’re often able to dominate the trenches behind center Alex Mack and left guard Andy Levitre. And when Coleman gets room to bounce outside, this becomes a very productive unit. One cause for concern for the Falcons is that as of Wednesday, Devonte Freeman is still not practicing after leaving the game early with a knee injury against the Eagles.

The Carolina run defense simply refuses to allow big rushing days. Dating back to last season, they’ve allowed just 3 opponents to top 110 yards on the ground, and only two individual runners have reached 80. In Week 1, Ezekiel Elliott generally produced (69 yards and 1 touchdown on 15 carries), but worked hard for his modest total. Aside from a 17-yard breakaway, Elliott found little room against a front seven that swarmed even without run-stuffing tackle Star Lotulelei. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson were quick in space and did a great job of controlling Elliott’s lanes. Simply put, this is a run defense to shy away from in fantasy football. It’s tough (not advisable) to bench a Devonta Freeman-level runner, especially in Week 2, but it’s not wise to project much success for him, either.

Falcons Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Panthers defense.

Matt Ryan’s opening night was nothing short of a disaster. The 11-year veteran found Julio Jones 10 times for 169 yards, which looks great on its face. But he was a black hole otherwise as when he targeted anyone else, he completed just 11 of 24 for 82 yards and an interception. It’s tempting to chalk it up to Week 1 rust or the Eagles defense, but Ryan frequently finds himself showing these deficiencies. He’s always struggled to find Jones downfield consistently, which too often minimizes the All-Pro receiver in the game plan – and places a heavy burden on ho-hum possession target Mohamed Sanu to produce. And the two have never had a strong red zone connection. Too many deep Falcons drives bog down inside the 10 on Ryan-to-Jones misfires. This passing game sometimes erupts, of course, and better days are ahead. Rookie Calvin Ridley was invisible last Thursday, drawing just two targets, and he’ll provide more dynamism as the year goes on. And the backs remain explosive as receivers, as we saw on Tevin Coleman’s 26-yard grab that set up the Falcons’ first points. But it’s always hard to project big weeks here, thanks in large part to Ryan’s limitations. Even against a shoddy Tampa Bay secondary, fantasy players should be wary of his ability to create big things – even when throwing to Jones.

The Panthers’ pass defense looked great on paper in Week 1. The “on paper” qualifier is a big one, though as those numbers came against a truly awful passing game that severely lacks downfield punch. Still, the defensive performance can’t just be explained away. The Panthers sacked Prescott six times – five by its dominating front line – and refused to allow Prescott any rhythm to attempt a real comeback. The cornerbacks played well, too, choking off Prescott’s second-half attempts to get the ball downfield. All in all, the Cowboys’ four outside receivers combined to catch just 6 passes for 62 yards. Captain Munnerlyn, though, remains a weak spot in the slot. He’s slipped markedly from his days as a serviceable inside man, and Cole Beasley caught 7 of 8 targets there.

Falcons vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)2 (-13.7)2 (-12.8)3 (-11.6)3 (-12.0)
1Nick Foles721934117011-

Cam Newton (FanDuel: $8200, DraftKings: $6600)

1vs DAL671726161001358119.919.918.218.2
2PROJ-Dodds22332301.30.99440.3222222.0 (H=51)22.0 (H=64)
2PROJ-Tremblay19322111.2110510.321.321.321.3 (H=48)21.3 (H=60)
2PROJ-Bloom183118210.810510.520.420.420.4 (H=45)20.4 (H=56)

Falcons vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)25 (+4.3)22T (+2.7)25 (+5.8)23 (+4.2)
1Jay Ajayi2915622000018.
1Darren Sproles295100742203.

Christian McCaffrey (FanDuel: $7400, DraftKings: $7000)

1vs DAL5710500964509.515.510.514.5
2PROJ-Dodds11430.26520.312.518.515.5 (H=31)18.5 (H=44)
2PROJ-Tremblay11430.27580.313.120.116.6 (H=35)20.1 (H=51)
2PROJ-Bloom10440.35440.211.816.814.3 (H=27)16.8 (H=37)

C.J. Anderson (FanDuel: $5300, DraftKings: $3900)

1vs DAL12735000003.
2PROJ-Dodds8330.11604.55.55.0 (H=6)5.5 (H=9)
2PROJ-Tremblay7320.11604.45.44.9 (H=5)5.4 (H=9)
2PROJ-Bloom9410.20005.35.35.3 (H=6)5.3 (H=9)

Falcons vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)4 (-15.7)6 (-18.8)4 (-17.9)5 (-20.9)
1Nelson Agholor6810833011605.713.79.513.5
1DeAndre Carter53111000001.

Devin Funchess (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $4700)

1vs DAL57534100004.
2PROJ-Dodds4580.30007.611.69.6 (H=16)11.6 (H=29)
2PROJ-Tremblay3440.30006.29.27.7 (H=11)9.2 (H=19)
2PROJ-Bloom4550.40007.911.99.9 (H=17)11.9 (H=31)

Jarius Wright (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3800)

1vs DAL31532300002.
2PROJ-Dodds3340.20004.67.66.1 (H=10)7.6 (H=17)
2PROJ-Tremblay3440.30006.29.27.7 (H=15)9.2 (H=24)
2PROJ-Bloom3220.10002.85.84.3 (H=5)5.8 (H=11)

Curtis Samuel (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)


Torrey Smith (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3500)

1vs DAL51211500001.
2PROJ-Dodds1190.10002.53.53.0 (H=2)3.5 (H=5)
2PROJ-Tremblay1160.10002.23.22.7 (H=2)3.2 (H=4)
2PROJ-Bloom2280.10003.45.44.4 (H=5)5.4 (H=10)

D.J. Moore (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $4000)

1vs DAL1700001300.
2PROJ-Dodds11001501. (H=2)
2PROJ-Tremblay1901601. (H=2)
2PROJ-Bloom1801401. (H=1)

Falcons vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)19 (-1.0)23 (+0.8)21T (+0.0)23 (+0.6)
1Zach Ertz701054804.

Ian Thomas (FanDuel: $4000, DraftKings: $2900)

1vs DAL3722400.
2PROJ-Dodds2210. (H=6)5.3 (H=12)
2PROJ-Tremblay3330. (H=11)7.5 (H=22)
2PROJ-Bloom2170. (H=5)4.9 (H=10)

Chris Manhertz (FanDuel: $4100, DraftKings: $2500)

1vs DAL340000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds1100. (H=1)2.6 (H=4)
2PROJ-Bloom1800.81.81.3 (H=0)1.8 (H=2)

Falcons vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)6T (-3.2)6T (-3.2)6T (-3.9) (+0.0)
1Jake Elliott1111444.00.0

Graham Gano (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

1vs DAL1111444.00.0

Falcons vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10T (-2.7)10T (-2.7)17T (+0.7)17T (+0.7)
1Philadelphia Eagles12299410006610.010.0

Carolina Panthers (FanDuel: $4100, DraftKings: $2900)

1vs DAL8.00232601008812.012.0
2PROJ-Dodds24.603652.10.70.600. (H=14)7.2 (H=21)
2PROJ-Tremblay24.753612.10.90.600. (H=16)7.6 (H=23)

Panthers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)5T (-9.6)5T (-9.6)6 (-8.5)6 (-8.4)
1Dak Prescott64192917000519010.410.48.79.7

Matt Ryan (FanDuel: $7100, DraftKings: $5700)

1@ PHI7021432510128012.412.49.89.8
2PROJ-Dodds22342551.60.7290.1202020.0 (H=50)20.0 (H=62)
2PROJ-Tremblay21332441.60.93130.119.619.619.6 (H=48)19.6 (H=60)
2PROJ-Bloom21332191.40.8240.116.716.716.7 (H=36)16.7 (H=46)

Panthers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10 (-4.5)7 (-7.1)9 (-5.5)7 (-7.6)
1Ezekiel Elliott59156914317014.617.616.117.6
1Rod Smith415010000.

Devonta Freeman (FanDuel: $6800, DraftKings: $6000)

1@ PHI39636053140586.58.0
2PROJ-Dodds13500.43240.110.413.411.9 (H=21)13.4 (H=29)
2PROJ-Tremblay13530.53240.111.314.312.8 (H=24)14.3 (H=33)
2PROJ-Bloom14520.43200. (H=20)13.2 (H=29)

Tevin Coleman (FanDuel: $5900, DraftKings: $5300)

1@ PHI3691912126010.511.511.011.5
2PROJ-Dodds10510.32150.191110.0 (H=18)11.0 (H=24)
2PROJ-Tremblay10420.41100. (H=14)9.2 (H=17)
2PROJ-Bloom11470.42190.19.611.610.6 (H=20)11.6 (H=26)

Panthers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10 (-8.8)12 (-7.9)11 (-8.9)12 (-9.9)
1Cole Beasley43877300007.314.310.814.3
1Deonte Thompson30532700002.

Julio Jones (FanDuel: $8500, DraftKings: $8400)

1@ PHI57191016901110182823.031.0
2PROJ-Dodds71020.627014.521.518.0 (H=35)21.5 (H=48)
2PROJ-Tremblay71000.529013.920.917.4 (H=33)20.9 (H=46)
2PROJ-Bloom7920.500012.219.215.7 (H=27)19.2 (H=39)

Mohamed Sanu (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $4000)

1@ PHI56641800001.
2PROJ-Dodds4420.30006108.0 (H=13)10.0 (H=26)
2PROJ-Tremblay4470.40007.111.19.1 (H=16)11.1 (H=32)
2PROJ-Bloom4380.30005.69.67.6 (H=12)9.6 (H=25)

Calvin Ridley (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $3700)

1@ PHI462000000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds2200.10002.64.63.6 (H=3)4.6 (H=7)
2PROJ-Tremblay2250.20003.75.74.7 (H=5)5.7 (H=11)
2PROJ-Bloom1110.10001.72.72.2 (H=1)2.7 (H=3)

Justin Hardy (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ PHI60000000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds1110.10001.72.72.2 (H=1)2.7 (H=3)
2PROJ-Tremblay180.10001.42.41.9 (H=1)2.4 (H=3)
2PROJ-Bloom180.10001.42.41.9 (H=1)2.4 (H=3)

Panthers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)5 (-4.4)5 (-5.6)5 (-4.9)5 (-5.8)
1Geoff Swaim58431801.

Austin Hooper (FanDuel: $4800, DraftKings: $2900)

1@ PHI59432402.
2PROJ-Dodds2220. (H=5)5.4 (H=12)
2PROJ-Tremblay2240. (H=5)5.6 (H=13)
2PROJ-Bloom3310. (H=8)7.3 (H=21)

Panthers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)1T (-7.2)1T (-7.2)1T (-7.9) (+0.0)
1Brett Maher0100000.00.0

Matt Bryant (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

1@ PHI2201668.00.0

Panthers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)6T (-3.7)6T (-3.7)8T (-3.3)8T (-3.3)
1Dallas Cowboys1629330100556.06.0

Atlanta Falcons (FanDuel: $3400, DraftKings: $2700)

1@ PHI18.0023221100667.07.0
2PROJ-Dodds19.703372.210.800. (H=28)9.4 (H=35)
2PROJ-Tremblay19.253472.110.800.510.210.210.2 (H=32)10.2 (H=41)