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Fantasy Football Picks: Falcons vs. Panthers DraftKings NFL DFS TNF Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Thursday’s 8:15 p.m. ET contest between the Falcons and the Panthers with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

Under normal circumstances, I would absolutely loathe this game. The Atlanta Falcons going up against the Carolina Panthers? Who would ever allow two NFC South teams to be in the same primetime contest? It’s a recipe for disaster. However, 11 days ago, these two squads hooked up for what was one of the most entertaining matchups we’ve seen in the NFL this season. My hopes are cautious high for the rematch.

Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.5M Thursday Night Showdown [$500K to 1st] (ATL vs CAR)


Captain’s Picks

Cordarrelle Patterson ($17,700 CP) - This is a rather large price tag for an asset that played just 39.3% of the Falcons’ offensive snaps in Week 9, but hear me out. Arthur Smith was honest prior to Sunday’s loss to Los Angeles, stating that Atlanta was going to ease Patterson back into the fold. I think Smith did that not just because Patterson hadn’t been active since Week 4, but also knowing there was a short week on the horizon. As such, Patterson should be well rested heading into Thursday, where a very susceptible Panthers D/ST ($3,800) is waiting. Carolina’s surrendered the third-most DKFP per game to opposing backfields this season. By DVOA, the unit is ranked 28th overall, and it’s directly on the heels of hemorrhaging 241 rushing yards to the Bengals last weekend. The Panthers conceded five rushing touchdowns, too. Good news for Patterson, who was clearly the Falcons’ No. 1 goal line option versus the Chargers.

P.J. Walker ($14,400 CP) - As crazy as this sounds, I sort of like the looming presence of Baker Mayfield ($9,600) and Sam Darnold ($9,400). Even if it’s only a small percentage of lineups, the threat of Walker getting pulled from this game is going to scare some people away from Carolina’s starting QB. In a Showdown setting, such an opportunity should be taken advantage of — particularly considering Walker’s very recent history in this matchup. We are two games removed from Walker throwing for 317 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. That shouldn’t come as a shock, either, as Atlanta is currently the only team in the NFL allowing over 300 opponent passing yards per contest. In fact, since Week 7, that figure is at an absurd 337.7 yards per game. Yikes. Look for Walker and DJ Moore ($9,200) to have bounce back performances on Amazon.

FLEX Plays

D’Onta Foreman ($7,800) - It should also be noted that Falcons D/ST ($5,200) is poor at stopping the run. Such is life when you’re the fourth-worst defense in the NFL according to DVOA. To wit, in its past three games, Atlanta’s surrendered an NFC-high six opponent rushing touchdowns, three of which were scored by Foreman in Week 8’s heartbreaking loss. Foreman logged a season-best 67.5% of Carolina’s offensive snaps that afternoon, translating that volume into 26 carries, 118 scrimmage yards and 34.8 DKFP. Foreman’s workload might not be quite as hefty if Chuba Hubbard ($5,800; ankle) is able to play through a questionable tag; yet even if his teammate is active, in a neutral script, I’d expect to see Foreman finish with 15-18 touches. That would include a few goal line opportunities, as well.

Kyle Pitts ($7,000) - Pitts’ sophomore campaign has been annoyingly inconsistent, but the recent numbers are somewhat encouraging. For instance, while Pitts was technically held to just two receptions for 27 yards in last weekend’s loss to the Chargers, he finished the game with a 30% target share and a whopping 59% air yards share. I understand you don’t get fantasy points for potential, but those are some massive numbers. Since Week 7, Pitts has posted target rates of 36%, 27% and 30%, respectively. Those aren’t only positionally elite totals, they’re elite in general. At some point, the former first-round pick is going to explode and there’s a decent chance it’s this week in a matchup of two terrible defenses. I think we see the 22-year-old flash his ceiling against a unit that sits 28th in passing DVOA.


Drake London ($8,200) - Here’s the thing about liking Pitts’ fantasy prospects on Thursday: It sort of means you have to be out on London. There’s simply not that much volume to go around in this passing attack. Atlanta ranks 30th in football in passing attempts per game (22.3) and 31st in pass ratio (42.3%). Marcus Mariota ($10,200) just isn’t someone his head coach currently feels comfortable letting drop back 30-plus times per contest. As a result, London’s in quite the dry spell. He’s failed to find the end zone since Week 3, while that was also the last time the rookie exceeded 40 yards receiving in a single game. In the last six weeks, London’s averaging a putrid 0.12 DKFP per snap — the fifth-lowest mark of the 57 wideouts who have logged at least a 60% snap share within that same span. When you’re sharing space in the DFS world with the likes of Equanimeous St. Brown and K.J. Osborn, you’re an easy fade.


In a matchup of two below average teams, I’m inclined to just take the points — especially when those points are attached to the home squad. After starting the season 6-0 ATS, the Falcons have dropped three consecutive contests against the spread. Meanwhile, Carolina should have won this matchup in Week 8 on two different occasions. Honestly, maybe I’d advise skipping the spread altogether and simply betting the over.

Final Score: Carolina 28, Atlanta 27

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL $1.5M Thursday Night Showdown [$500K to 1st] (ATL vs CAR)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.