Last updated: December 4th at 8:55am ET
Team Totals: Falcons 25.5, Panthers 22.5
Embarrassingly walloped by the Redskins at home last week, the 5-7 Panthers go back on the road to face a similarly toilet-circling Falcons team coming off its Thanksgiving loss to New Orleans. Defensive-minded Ron Rivera’s Tuesday firing should have little to no impact on Carolina’s offense, which will now be overseen mainly by Scott Turner, son of Norv. Coaching-role adjustments aside, this is a bounce-back spot for Christian McCaffrey, who had his season-worst game against Washington with two drops and fewer than 130 yards from scrimmage for just the third time all year. Beginning with most recent, McCaffrey’s last three total-yardage counts versus Dan Quinn’s defense are 191 > 178 > 139 with gaudy catch totals of 11 > 12 > 14. Last week’s struggles did nothing to change the fact that McCaffrey remains this week’s top RB1 play. … Absorbing seven sacks and turning the ball over twice, Kyle Allen resumed being part of the problem and not the solution in Carolina’s Week 13 loss, but he did log top-eight QB1 results for the second straight week and can be locked into two-quarterback-league lineups in the comfy confines of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz dome. 7 of the last 11 signal callers to face the Falcons have turned in top-12 fantasy scores, while both of Allen’s frontline wide receivers encounter plus Week 14 draws.
Allen’s 2019 target distribution: D.J. Moore 91; CMC 78; Curtis Samuel 69; Greg Olsen 53; Jarius Wright 32; Ian Thomas 8. … One of football’s hottest receivers, Moore visits Atlanta with 95-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five straight games and nine-plus targets in each of his last seven. He’s a shoo-in WR1 at the Falcons, who’ve allowed the NFL’s seventh-most fantasy points to receivers. … Held to 70 yards or fewer in 10-of-10 Allen starts, Samuel has been a touchdown-or-bust WR3/flex all year. Fortunately, Atlanta has yielded the league’s ninth-most TDs to wide receivers (14). … If Olsen (concussion) can’t play, the Panthers will turn to second-year TE Thomas, who came off the bench to draw four targets on just 44% of last week’s snaps. A 91st-percentile SPARQ athlete, Thomas ranked sixth among NFL tight ends in receiving yards with Olsen injured last Weeks 13-17 and would be an excellent TE1 streamer.
Unable to protect Matt Ryan, the Falcons have devolved into an offense to attack with D/STs; Ryan is the NFL’s third-most-pressured quarterback since Atlanta’s Week 9 bye (44%). Over his last five games, Ryan is 115-of-189 passing (60.8%) for 1,235 yards (6.53 YPA) with five touchdowns and eight turnovers. The Panthers lead the NFL in sacks (46) and rank third in QB hits (85), giving their defense streamer life. … As for Ryan’s standalone outlook, 9-of-12 quarterbacks to face Carolina have tallied fantasy scores of QB15 or worse. Nevertheless, Julio Jones (shoulder) and Austin Hooper’s (MCL) returns would vault Ryan right back into season-long QB1 playability. … Devonta Freeman (foot) returned as Atlanta’s lead back in Thanksgiving’s loss to the Saints, handling 21 touches on 66% of the Falcons’ snaps. Brian Hill did chip in seven touches on a 26% playing-time clip and is enough of a presence to prevent Freeman from reemerging as a true bellcow. As box-score results were also spiked by Atlanta running a season-high 85 offensive plays, 20-touch outings shouldn’t necessarily be Freeman’s going-forward expectation. Still, Freeman warrants low-end RB2 treatment based on job security and matchup. Trucksticked by Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson last week, Carolina’s run defense has bottomed out as worst in the league.
Julio Jones’ AC joint shoulder sprain was never a serious injury, and he should return at nearly 100% after taking Thanksgiving off. While his matchup is no gimme against stud Panthers CB James Bradberry, Jones did tally 91 yards on eight targets when these clubs met in Week 11 and seems very likely to go overlooked as a Week 14 DFS-tournament play. Julio is averaging a robust 9.5 targets and 98.5 yards over his last six games. … Albeit propped up opportunity wise by Jones and Austin Hooper’s injuries – both of whom may play Sunday – Calvin Ridley catches Carolina with 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six of his last eight games and went berserk against the Panthers in Week 11 (8/143/1), in particular going to town on typically-stingy CB Donte Jackson. Ridley dropped receiving lines of 3/90/1 and 4/64/1 on a similar-looking Panthers secondary last year, too. Ridley is playing at too high a level to keep out of season-long lineups as an upside WR2. … Slot man Russell Gage and fill-in TE Jaeden Graham will take the biggest hits if Hooper returns and resumes his monster first-half target share. Hooper was on pace for 104 catches eight games in. Ideally, we’ll get reports regarding Hooper’s projected participation before Sunday’s game. A full practice by Friday would be a great sign for his Week 14 TE1 outlook.
Score Prediction: Falcons 24, Panthers 23