(Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire)
QB List is excited to be partnering with FantasyDraft, featuring advice articles every week through the entirety of the 2018 season. Signup and play for free at FantasyDraft.
I feel good about the players recommended in Week 9 and the tournament lineup used wasn’t awful, but to really make a run at winning these large tournaments, you need every player to come through and that did not happen.
Prior to breaking down the Thursday night game from a daily fantasy perspective, I will recap how I did in the Fantasy Draft $100,000 Run and Gun (Sun Only) tournament from the week before. You can compete against me weekly throughout the season.
This lineup ended up being more of a cash game lineup as there were too many high owned players. I’ll never regret using the high priced running backs and all of them came through with the exception of Rams running back Todd Gurley. I wrote about Jets tight end Chris Herndon being a prime tournament option due the Dolphins recent struggles against the tight end and I feel good that he came in with no ownership. Herndon failed to score a touchdown, but he still produced a solid line for his price tag.
It was disappointing to see Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton and Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore fail to produce bigger numbers and looking back I should have paid up at the position and found cheaper options at running back like Nick Chubb from the Browns. Cam Newton was solid, but I was banking on him running more and potentially rushing for a touchdown. However, he wasn’t the goal line running back like he has been most of the time this season so we must now figure out if that was a one game outlier or a hint of things to come.
Week 10 should be fun as there are a number of games with a high over/under which should help spread out the ownership percentages.
Moving on to the Thursday night contest, we finally have a game that should have plenty of fantasy points from both teams as the Panthers travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. The game opened with an over/under of 50 and has risen to 51 and in some places, 52. This means the money coming in is on the over so we should expect a good amount of scoring.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton continues to play at a high level as he has thrown for at least two touchdowns in every game since Week 1. Newton is also a huge part of the running game as he has finished with at least 29 rushing yards in every game this season. The Steelers defense has played much better in recent weeks, but Newton’s versatility will be a tough task. The issue with Newton this week is his price tag as he is the second highest priced quarterback on the slate. Newton has a huge floor because he does run, but he will never be a quarterback that will throw for 350 yards and three touchdowns. This is not to say that it can’t happen, but that is the upside we need in tournaments. If Newton isn’t getting the goal line carries as he didn’t against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9 then that will have a big impact on his ceiling as well. Newton will always be a solid option, but at his price tag, I think we can avoid in Week 10.
On the other side of the field, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is also playing at a high level as he has yet to throw for less than 250 yards in any game this season. Roethlisberger is at home which always makes him a viable option. The veteran is the fourth highest priced quarterback this week so like Newton, it makes him a tough option in cash games. I think Roethlisberger is an elite tournament option if stacking the Steelers, but I will look elsewhere in cash games.
Steelers running back James Conner continues to dominate as he has scored at least 31 Fantasy Draft points in the last four weeks. Conner faces a Panthers run defense that is allowing 4.47 yards per carry to running backs so this has all the makings of another Conner smash performance. The running back’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield only enhances his fantasy value. Conner is a prime target in cash games and tournaments and can be used in all formats as a nice building block.
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has proven he can handle a heavy workload as he has had more than 20 touches in four games this season and has scored at least 30 Fantasy Draft points twice. McCaffrey’s heavy usage will always give him a high floor, but I’m most encouraged by his touches in the red zone. McCaffrey has seven opportunities in the red zone in Week 9 and received six carries which resulted in two touchdowns. This is coming off a week in which he had five opportunities in the red zone. If McCaffrey becomes more involved in the red zone, it’s hard to predict how great he can be. Like Conner, McCaffrey is a strong building block in all formats in Week 10.
Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess is the perfect cash game player as his price is always appealing and his floor is always solid. Funchess has scored double digit Fantasy Draft points in four games and if not for a little bad luck, he would have scored a touchdown in each of the last two games which would have given him five on the season. As mentioned before, Newton will never throw for a huge amount of yards which will always cap Funchess’ ceiling so he can easily be avoided in tournaments, but if looking for a receiver in the mid-tier, Funchess isn’t the worst play.
Teammate D.J. Moore continues to earn more playing time and the rookie led the wide receiving unit in snap percentage in Week 9 at 85.48. Even with the increased playing time, Moore failed to build off his impressive Week 8 performance as he only caught one pass after hauling in five against the Baltimore Ravens. It’s encouraging to see him be involved in the run game as the Panthers are trying to get the ball in the rookie’s hands and he has finished with at least 30 rushing yards in back-to-back games. Despite a low price tag, I think Moore is only suited for tournaments as their is upside, but the floor is too low right now to be used in cash lineups.
For the Steelers, Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster are always prime targets in any format. Brown is the highest priced receiver in Week 10 and for good reason as he has scored a touchdown in seven of eight games. Brown is match-up proof and there’s not much analysis needed as you can fire him up with complete confidence in all formats if able to make the salary fit.
Smith-Schuster runs 79 percent of his routes out of the slot and faces a Panthers defense that struggles against slot receivers. Smith-Schuster is $2,000 less than Brown so if wanting to pay down and still get exposure to the dynamic passing game of the Steelers, he is definitely worth it. Like Brown, Smith-Schuster is viable in all formats.
The Steelers rely on two tight ends in Vance McDonald and Jesse James, but McDonald played nearly 63 percent of snaps in Week 8 compared to 43 percent for James. This is a prime matchup for both tight ends as the Panthers rank 27th in defensive DVOA to the tight end position and just allowed Bucs tight end O.J. Howard to score two touchdowns in Week 9. The targets between the two are similar along with the overall stats, but McDonald has the edge across the board. One of the two will have a strong performance, but guessing which one it will be is difficult. I give the edge to McDonald and put him in elite tournament conversation.
When healthy, Greg Olsen continues to produce and he has scored a touchdown in each of the last three games. Like the Panthers, the Steelers struggle against the tight end position as the rank one spot ahead of the Panthers. Olsen is the third highest priced tight end this week which will make it difficult to fit him in cash games. The good news is we don’t have to worry about Olsen splitting time with another tight end as he continues to play more than 96 percent of the snaps. Olsen is a great tournament option, but with the high price tag, I will be avoiding in cash games.
Due to price, I like the Steelers as a tournament option as they rank fourth in the league in sacks which is what we are always targeting. However, I’ll avoid both in cash games with the high over/under and look to fill out my defensive spot