Kickoff: Sunday, November 22nd at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Betting Odds: CAR -2.5, 49 total via Oddsshark
Matthew Stafford (Start, low-end QB1)
There was some concern earlier in the week that this game would be played by two backup QBs but it seems those fears have subsided and Matthew Stafford is expected to start for Detroit on Sunday. Stafford suffered a partially torn ligament in the thumb of his throwing hand, but reports are the injury occurred early in the game and didn’t hinder Stafford too much as he finished the day with 276 passing yards and three TDs. Carolina has been generous to QBs recently, allowing at least 280 passing yards in each of their last four games and surrendering three or more TDs in three of them. Detroit seems to have found a solid option at RB which will only help the passing game and Stafford’s top WR looks like he’ll be back on the field this week. Stafford should creep into the bottom of the QB1 tier this week for fantasy managers.
D’Andre Swift (Start, RB1), Adrian Peterson (Sit), Kerryon Johnson (Sit)
It is quickly becoming apparent that Detroit’s backfield is going to be the primary responsibility of D’Andre Swift as the rookie handled nearly 73% of the snaps and dominated the touches with 21. Swift topped 140 total yards and found the end zone again as a receiver, bumping his appeal for fantasy managers. Swift has been effective when given the opportunity averaging 4.7 yards per carry and chips in around 30 receiving yards on his five targets. Carolina has given up good games to RBs this season, highlighted by Ronald Jones’s 198 total yards last week and Austin Ekeler’s 11 receptions in Week 3. Swift should provide a solid RB1 output for fantasy managers given his growing role in the offense and a susceptible Carolina defense this week.
I expected more from Adrian Peterson last week going up against the team that surprisingly released just before the season started but Peterson has clearly taken a backseat to Swift in Detroit and his time as a legitimate fantasy option seems to be coming to a close. Peterson was on the field for a paltry seven snaps last week and managed just five touches on the day. Peterson certainly provides veteran leadership and is a great mentor for Swift but as long as Swift stays healthy I think last week will become more the norm for Peterson. It’s time to put the future Hall of Famer on the bench unless the situation in front of him changes.
Kerryon Johnson is still getting on the field but his time as a viable part of the offense seems to have vanished. Johnson had just one carry last week and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. I don’t know what the future holds for Johnson in the NFL but his fantasy future is bleak. Fantasy managers can move on from him if they haven’t already.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Kenny Golladay (Start, WR2), Marvin Jones (Start, WR3/Flex), Danny Amendola/Quintez Cephus/Marvin Hall (Sit), T.J. Hockenson (Start, TE1)
Will he play or won’t he? That’s been an ongoing question with regards to Kenny Golladay this season as the WR has missed four games with various ailments. After missing Detroit’s last two games, Golladay returned to practice on Wednesday and seems poised to return to the starting lineup this week against Carolina. The Panthers have given up some big fantasy days to WRs this season as they rank 22nd in the NFL allowing 255 yards per game and have allowed 100+ yards or one TD to the position every week. Discounting the game in which he suffered the injury, Golladay has surpassed 100 yards or scored in every game this season. There is some concern baked into the ranking regarding the injury, so fantasy owners should expect Golladay to finish as a solid WR2 for Week 11.
Marvin Jones has run his consecutive games with a TD streak to three after scoring again last week and now Golladay will return to pull some defensive attention to that side of the field. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, Jones’s four worst games of the season directly coincide with the four games Golladay has been healthy. In those four games, Jones has a total of 11 receptions for 148 yards and zero TDs. The Lions also have a strong option at TE so expect fewer targets for Jones if Golladay can play his usual allotment of snaps. For these reasons, fantasy managers should expect no more than a WR3 finish for Jones despite his recent spate of fantasy-relevant games.
Danny Amendola left the game late last week after suffering a hip injury and was not at practice on Wednesday. There is still some uncertainty about whether or not he will be able to play this week. If he misses, Detroit likely will turn to either Quintez Cephus or Marvin Hall to fill the void. The latter two are downfield threats and need big plays to pay off for fantasy managers. Regardless of who Detroit’s third WR is this week, it’s best for fantasy managers to look elsewhere for production.
The one receiving option in Detroit that fantasy managers can trust every week has been T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson has exceeded in nine games this season what he was able to accomplish in 12 games last season and leads the team in targets on the season with 53. Carolina has surrendered double-digit points to opposing TEs in each of the last five games and Hockenson is the most prolific Detroit receiver when the team gets in the red zone. Given the lack of reliable options at the TE position, Hockenson provides weekly TE1 upside and should finish there again this week for fantasy managers.
Teddy Bridgewater (Start, QB2)
As I mentioned above, there was real concern Sunday night that this game might be played with backup QBs for both teams but an MRI scan on Monday showed no significant damage to Teddy Bridgewater’s knee and he is expected to start on Sunday. Bridgewater has been very efficient this season, completing 72% of his passes and throwing double the TDs as compared to INTs (13 to 7). Bridgewater also brings a running element to the position having scored a rushing TD in each of the last two games. Detroit has been prone to allowing multi-TD games to opposing QBs; a feat accomplished in six of nine weeks. Bridgewater has a talented cast of receivers and should be able to make plays against the NFL’s 24th-ranked pass defense. Fantasy managers in traditional leagues likely have better options as Bridgewater profiles to finish as a solid QB2 against Detroit in Week 11.
If Bridgewater were to be ruled out, P.J. Walker would be in line to start. This would downgrade all of Carolina’s options by one tier and Walker should not be started.
Mike Davis (Start, RB1)
To no surprise, the Panthers announced on Wednesday that star RB Christian McCaffrey will miss another game with his shoulder injury thus making Mike Davis an appealing option for fantasy managers once again. Davis did leave the team’s Week 10 game briefly with a wrist injury but was able to return and there is no indication the injury should have an impact on his ability to play this week. The good news for fantasy managers is when McCaffrey is out, Davis rarely leaves the field seeing 70% of the snaps or more. Detroit has been prone to allowing big games to RBs and has been generous to RBs who play a part in the passing game as well. Davis should get every opportunity to turn in another strong fantasy output for fantasy managers and looks like a solid RB1 this week as long as the injury bug doesn’t strike again.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
D.J. Moore (Start, WR3/Flex), Robby Anderson (Start, low-end WR1), Curtis Samuel (Sit), Ian Thomas (Sit)
D.J. Moore was Carolina’s #1 WR last season but has moved to the #2 option with the arrival of Robby Anderson. Moore has become a legitimate downfield threat averaging 18.9 yards per reception and has an average depth of target (ADOT) of 12.4; the highest of his career. Perhaps those reasons have contributed to his surprisingly-low catch rate of just 56.5% which is easily the lowest of his career. Moore has done a lot with the little he has, however, leading the team in TD receptions with four and trails Anderson by just 36 yards with 736. Moore just isn’t seeing the target volume to warrant placing him any higher than a WR3 because it almost requires a TD to get higher. Moore has shown he has WR1 upside but fantasy managers would be best served to view him as a solid WR3 or flex option this week.
If positive regression is a thing, then Anderson should be in line for a multi-TD game any time now. Anderson leads the team in targets (86), receptions (64), and receiving yards (772) but has managed just one TD on the season. Perhaps unfortunately for Anderson, Detroit has allowed just one receiving TD to a WR in the last five weeks and has allowed only two 100-yard games all season. Detroit is finally mostly healthy at CB which certainly has led to the improvement of the team’s secondary. Still, Anderson is seeing enough volume that he should be able to easily finish as a WR2 this week and might creep into the lower end of the WR1 tier against Detroit in Week 11.
Curtis Samuel looked like he was becoming a must-start player as he had a solid run in Weeks 7, 8, and 9 in which he scored four TDs and 27 opportunities (targets and carries). Then Week 10 arrived and Samuel crashed back to Earth with 12 total yards on six touches. Samuel works both as a WR and as an RB but isn’t guaranteed enough volume between the two positions to warrant a starting endorsement. Samuel has shown he can provide WR2 production but he’s also shown he can ruin a lineup with a bad game. Samuel might fill an emergency flex role in large leagues but he should probably stay on most benches this week.
Ian Thomas is Carolina’s primary TE but is virtually nonexistent when it comes to offensive production. Thomas has seen a mere 18 targets this season and simply can’t be trusted by fantasy managers to score a TD which is the only way he’d make a case to be in a starting lineup. Fantasy managers can simply move on from Thomas.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)