(Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire)
Each week throughout the NFL season, our staff at QB List will be watching and reviewing all the games from every week and offering up our takes on the fantasy-relevant things that happened. Here’s what we saw in Week 10.
Panthers vs. Steelers
Is McCaffrey the only reliable source of offense for the Panthers?
Thursday’s game against the Steelers showcased RB Christian McCaffrey’s dual threat capability. He totaled 138 yards on 19 touches, which averages out to 7.26 yards per touch; it also accounted for 57% of the Panthers’ offensive yards for the game. Odds makers were probably thrilled with their O/U of eight touchdowns for McCaffrey this year through Week 7, but in the last three games McCaffrey has scored seven times(!), making the line a push with seven more weeks to play. As much as I advocated for making a move to acquire McCaffrey after both the Washington and Philadelphia games, if you get offered a king’s ransom for CMC it’d be worth your while to take it*, even with his favorable playoff schedule.
In the Game Preview, I stated that WR DJ Moore would be a good sleeper pick for this matchup. If you had to start one Panthers wide receiver in this game, Moore did yield the highest point total in PPR formats, but if you’re choosing between 6.2, 5.2, 6.5 and 3.9 it’s a pyrrhic victory to select the right one. WR Devin Funchess was the second highest scorer of the bunch, only hauling in three of five targets for 32 yards, but the industry consensus seemed to be that he’d have a bad game. There’s still reason to believe in Funchess, as he tied for the second most targets in the game and the schedule moving forward is favorable, but I would cater the expectations to a low end WR2 if you’re looking to acquire him. Finally, TE Greg Olsen was set up for a potentially big game (for a TE), but only caught four of his six targets for 40 yards; eight points is not the worst from a tight end, but it’s not what you expect from a player of Olsen’s caliber. It’s worth noting that Olsen led the team in targets, as it shows that his rapport with QB Cam Newton is regaining strength, which could make him a sneaky TE to snag for the fantasy playoffs.
What happened to Cam?
QB Cam Newton had his lowest QBR of the season despite completing 79.3% of his passes. He only ran the ball twice, which was largely due to playing from behind the entire game, and took a season-high five sacks. The offensive line was getting obliterated by the Steelers’ pressure, and it didn’t help that 22% of QB Ben Roethlisberger’s completions went for touchdowns. It’s one of those games where everything was not in Cam’s favor, but he extended his streak of throwing at least two touchdowns to seven games, and the interception was only his fifth of the season.
Anything to note about the defense?
The defense looked bad, but S Eric Reid looked like a villain. I understand being frustrated down 38-14 with a little over a quarter to play. I also understand the buildup of frustration from having already felt like your coach isn’t in your corner coupled with this leading to rage. The fact of the matter is, that’s not Ben Roethlisberger’s fault, so when Roethlisberger slides and a committee of referees and peers come to the consensus that you were going for his head/neck, you should be ejected.
*In the leagues I play in, the trade deadline has not passed yet. If your league’s deadline has passed, I’m sorry that this and information stated thereafter may not pertain to you, but I hope you still find it a good read.
Steelers Passing Game Lights Up Panthers
QB Ben Roethlisberger was nearly perfect in Pittsburgh’s week 10 destruction of the Panthers, completing 22 of 25 passes for 328 yards and five touchdowns. Roethlisberger did not turn the ball over, was only sacked once, and even chipped in 27 yards rushing on three carries. He was fantasy’s QB1 for the week and offers week-winning upside that very few quarterbacks can match. Roethlisberger threw touchdowns to five different receivers and completed passes to nine different players, remarkable considering it came on only 25 pass attempts.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster produced the big play above on his way to three catches on five targets for 90 yards and a touchdown. While the catches and targets were low, fantasy owners will certainly take the long touchdown. Smith-Schuster is an excellent wide receiver option that still seems due for a monster game. The Steelers have some tough upcoming matchups for wide receivers but have a favorable schedule in fantasy playoffs with @OAK, NE, @NO in weeks 14-16.
WR Antonio Brown also broke a long touchdown against the Panthers, and lead the Steelers in catches, targets, and receiving yards with six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown on six targets. Brown has scored a touchdown in all but one game this year and is an elite fantasy wide receiver every week, regardless of matchup.
TE Vance McDonald chipped in four catches on four targets for 44 yards and a touchdown and is a solid fantasy tight end going forward. He lacks the upside of the players at the top of the tight end position, but fantasy owners should be happy with him considering the alternatives at tight end.
Conner Concussion Appears Minor
RB James Conner ended a torrid stretch of fantasy production, posting 13 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown and only one catch for eight yards. He looked explosive as always in the first half, with the down week due to the sheer efficiency of the Steelers passing game as well as Conner leaving early with a concussion. The Steelers are hopeful that he will play this week, meaning that neither of the backups is worth devoting too many resources to acquire. Coupled with an upcoming matchup against Jacksonville, and their fantasy value will likely be minimal.
Rookie RB Jaylen Samuels would be the higher upside of the backup options, as he was seeing some work before Conner was injured, and finished the game with five rushes for seven yards to go along with three catches on four targets for 22 yards and a touchdown. He could be an appealing flex option in PPR if Conner missed this week. Samuels would likely split time with RB Stevan Ridley in the event of an injury, who finished week 10 with eight carries for 26 yards. With Conner’s injury likely a minor one, this is probably only a one week window for the Steelers backup running backs.
Steelers Defense Surprises Again
Pittsburgh’s defense has been a surprising fantasy option this year, finishing this week as the second-best fantasy defense with a touchdown, five sacks, two turnovers, and 21 points allowed. The Steelers have scored 15 or more fantasy points in four of nine games this year, and haven’t allowed more than 21 points in any of the last five games. They are not without weaknesses, but with matchups on the road in Jacksonville and Denver over the next two weeks, the Steelers are a solid streaming option to add after waivers pass.