Game Preview

Thursday Night Football Preview: Eagles at Panthers

Thursday Night Football Preview

Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers
Carolina (-3.5), O/U 45.5

This week the Philly Eagles head to Carolina to take on the Panthers in what looks to be an exciting week 6 Thursday Night football game.  This matchup should provide us with an exciting battle of two 4-1 division leaders. The Eagles lone loss came against the Chiefs at Arrowhead, while the Panthers had an inexplicable loss at home to the Saints. Both of tonight’s teams look strong, which is why this game has been so difficult for people to pick in their weekly NFL Pick’em Pools.

Philadelphia Eagles

Thursday Night Football Preview

The Eagles enter this game with the third-ranked offense based on yards per game. In terms of DVOA, the Eagles are the sixth-ranked total offense. Philadelphia has been very balanced as they ranked sixth in pass offense DVOA and seventh in rush offense DVOA. It has been a great offensive run so far. The Eagles have scored 26 or more in their four victories.

Carson Wentz has benefited from the addition of some key offensive weapons. LeGarrette Blount has led the Eagles in rushing yards so far. Blount has had double-digit carries and 67+ yards in each of his last three games. Unfortunately, he has not turned in the touchdown numbers many had hoped for. There has been sparse running back value behind Blount so far. Darren Sproles tore his ACL a few weeks ago, ending his season. Wendell Smallwood has the possibility to step in and be the pass-catching back in this system, but he has been dealing with injuries as well. Corey Clement, the rookie out of Wisconsin, has stepped in to take some of the carries as well. Blount is the only sure fantasy value so far.

In the receiving corps, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith have opened up the offense. Nelson Agholor has started to show some value this year. Still, the best receiver on this team has been Zach Ertz.  Ertz has 48 targets through five weeks. That is good enough to be more than twice as many as any other player except Alshon Jeffery.  Ertz is the only consistent target in this offense. The other receivers all have some ups and downs.

Carson Wentz himself has been a stable quarterback. He finds himself in the QB2 range of fantasy quarterbacks. While Carson Wentz has had a few big games, he has some average games as well. In every game where Wentz has thrown multiple touchdowns, he also has a pick. Still, Wentz has some interesting home-road splits. He completes 68.9% of his passes at home and just 58.6% on the road. Furthermore, he has a QB rating of 112.7 at home and 89.8 on the road. This is not the best spot to have Wentz your fantasy lineup. Wentz is also third on the Eagles in rushing yards. He has speed and he will need it as Carolina is third in the NFL in sacks.

Carolina Panthers

Thursday Night Football Preview

Cam NewtonCam Newton has come alive the last few weeks. After a slow start. Newton threw for under 200 yards in two of his first three games. Now, Newton has completed over 75% of his passes for over 300 yards in each of his last two games. Sure one of these games was against New England and their terrible pass defense, but the Detroit Lions rank ninth in defensive passing DVOA. This week, Cam faces a middle of the road pass defense. Cam should give good value again.

The Panthers run offense has not been scaring teams. Carolina is currently 19th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Jonathan Stewart leads the way with just 251 yards on the ground. Christian McCaffrey has not yet rushed for 100 total yards. Still, McCaffrey has been in invaluable in the passing game. He leads the team in targets (36) and receptions (27). McCaffrey retains fantasy value, especially in PPR formats.

As far as the other pass catchers on the Panthers, Devin Funchess has arrived. Funchess is the only player with more than one touchdown (he has three). Funchess has just one less target than McCaffrey and three fewer receiving yards than team leader Kelvin Benjamin. He has become a valuable fantasy receiver.  Benjamin has 272 receiving yards and a single touchdown. He leads the team even though he has only had one game of more than five targets. He has made the most of them, but he is a better standard scoring player than PPR.

Tight End Ed Dickson has been seeing a greater share of the offense since the loss of Greg Olsen. Dickson had just four targets in the first three games. He had four targets in Week Four alone and then five more in Week Five. While Dickson has 271 yards on the year, 175 of those yards came this week against Detroit.

The Game

This should be an interesting matchup. Philadelphia brings a strong offense against a good Carolina defense. Then the Panthers will line up a decent offense against a middle-of-the-road Eagles defense.  There should be points in this game and several players with fantasy value all around.  Expect to see the ball in the air plenty. The fact that the Eagles seem to have a differential in play between home and road games is important to remember. Luke Kuechly and the Carolina defense held down the Lions passing attack for three quarters. The Panthers defense will look to finish better this week. Expect the Panthers to win 28-24.

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