What We Saw: Week 8

It's backup QB SZN

Panthers @ Falcons

Final Score: Panthers 19, Falcons 13

Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)

 

The surprise announcement of Calvin Ridley‘s absence from this game due to a personal reason was a shocking development for Falcons fans and fantasy managers alike. Atlanta’s offense definitely missed him in this game, as Matt Ryan found himself trying to force the ball to Kyle Pitts more often than not and Pitts was rarely open. The Falcons will be without Ridley for the foreseeable future as it sounds like his personal reason will lead to an extended absence from the team.

 

 

Mental health is more important than physical health, so hopefully, Ridley is able to get the help and rest that he needs to get back to 100%.

The story of this game was the ground game for both sides, however, though there wasn’t much to be had for fantasy purposes. Mike Davis looked better this week, Chuba Hubbard had a solid day, and Cordarrelle Patterson once again did Cordarrelle Patterson things, but the story of the day in my eyes was Ameer Abdullah‘s usage in this offense after getting signed this past week. He looked as good if not better than any other running back on the field for either team.

This was an ugly game if you like QBs who sling it around and drive the ball down the field. It was filled with big hits and sloppy offense and the final score is indicative of how brutal of a watch this was. Read on for the few fantasy-related tidbits we can take out of this game.

 

Carolina Panthers

 

Quarterback

 

Sam Darnold: 13/24, 129 yards | 8 carries, 66 yards

P.J. Walker: 0/1 | 1 carry, -1 yard

 

Sam Darnold looked really good running the ball in this game. He converted two QB sneaks for first downs in the 1st half, then scrambled for seven on third and long to put the Panthers back into field goal range at one point. The play fake was a weapon for Darnold, but there wasn’t much going on downfield so he pretty much had to use his legs all day if he wanted to keep drives going. He picked and chose his spots, and was mostly smart about it, but late in the game he scrambled for a first down near the goal line and got absolutely lit up by the defense.

 

 

This knocked him out of the game in favor of P.J. Walker. Darnold did not return. If Darnold is out for an extended absence, Walker is not worth your attention as he very nearly screwed up a red zone opportunity with a terrible pass across his body that was nearly intercepted. Hopefully Darnold is okay moving forward.

 

Running Back

 

Chuba Hubbard: 24 carries, 82 yards, TD, Fumble (Lost) | 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

Ameer Abdullah: 8 carries, 31 yards | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 35 yard

Royce Freeman: 6 carries, 25 yards | 1 target

 

Ameer Abdullah looked really good in this game. After being released by the Vikings earlier in the week, Carolina brought him in as a depth piece and he actually got a huge share of the backfield touches. Atlanta’s defense had a tough time stopping anyone in the backfield on Sunday, but Abdullah especially stood out. He looked great on the ground and was the receiving back of choice in this offense as well. He filled the hole left by Christian McCaffery well. Is he worth a speculative add in fantasy? I’ll leave that to our Waiver Wired folks to answer, but he passed the eye test for me.

As I mentioned in the opening blurb, Chuba Hubbard fumbled the ball on the very first play of the game. He had both hands on the ball as he hit the hole but Deion Jones came flying in and punched it out. It was a good defensive play but Chuba has to hold onto the football. Chuba was the primary back in the offense today and he scored their only touchdown on the day. I wasn’t that impressed by him, but if he gets the usage, he’s the back to roster in this offense fantasy-wise. One thing to note, this was the 6th different OL combination the Panthers have used in their eight games this season. Some consistency up front would go a long way for this offense if they want to make a run at a wild cart spot.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

D.J. Moore: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 59 yards

Tommy Tremble: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 18 yards

Robby Anderson: 1 target

Keith Kirkwood: 1 target

Ian Thomas: 1 target, 1 reception, 10 yards

Shi Smith: 1 target, 1 reception, -2 yards

 

This was an awful day for receivers of both teams and there are really only two things to note. First, D.J. Moore should have had a touchdown early in the game but he wasn’t able to hang onto the ball throughout the process of the catch and it was ruled incomplete, even after review. This replay shows him getting his feet in, but it doesn’t show the ball pooping out once he hit the ground. Take my word for it – it was a very close play and could have gone either way, but unfortunately, he wasn’t given the benefit of the doubt.

 

 

Second, Robby Anderson was nowhere to be seen once again. His only target was on this play where he got absolutely destroyed.

 

 

He was able to get up eventually on his own and even came back a few plays later. It was scary but he seems to be okay, which is a good sign for him, but otherwise he was a ghost on the field.

 

Atlanta Falcons

 

Quarterback

 

Matt Ryan: 20/27, 146 yards, TD, 2 INT, 3 Sacks | 2 carries, 3 yards, Fumble

 

This was a rough one for Matt Ryan and friends. Sure, the completion% isn’t too bad, but there was really nothing there for Ryan all day long. Pressure was an issue at times but it really wasn’t that big of a factor, or at least I didn’t think so. Ryan made one really good throw that I can remember, a dart to Kyle Pitts in double coverage on a play-action fake that converted a third and long. It was Pitts’ first catch of the game, and he only caught one more all day. With Pitts double covered for much of the day, Ryan had no other playmakers to target and instead had to rely on his backs and Tajae Sharpe for much of the day.

Ryan threw two picks on the day. His first one came on a drive after his left hand got stepped on by a defender. There was a ton of blood and the camera kept zooming in on it.

 

 

 

Ryan’s second interception was late in the game when it was pretty much already over. This one was by Stephon Gilmore, who played in his first game with Carolina since being traded away by New England.

 

 

With Calvin Ridley out for the foreseeable future, Ryan is a fringe QB2 at best for fantasy purposes.

 

Running Backs

 

Cordarrelle Patterson: 9 carries, 35 yards | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 37 yards, TD

Mike Davis: 9 carries, 44 yards | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 22 yards

 

Cordarrelle Patterson has consistently been the most dynamic player in the Falcons’ offense this season, and today was no different. Patterson wasn’t used at all in the 1st quarter, but he carried the rock on their first play of the 2nd quarter and then made an excellent catch and run two plays later for the score.

 

 

Mike Davis also looked pretty good in this game. He bowled over Shaq Thompson on a short gain early on, and he was involved enough in the passing game that his day wasn’t a complete bust from a fantasy perspective. He’s still not getting the lead-back usage we’d like to see, but this was a promising performance out of the former Panther. There was one play that stood out, a screen pass where he stumbled and was tackled after gaining only a handful of yards. Had he not stumbled it looked like he would have been able to make a move, get past a defender and turn it into a long gain. Otherwise, it was a positive day for Davis.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Kyle Pitts: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

Hayden Hurst: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards

Tajae Sharpe: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 58 yards

Olamide Zaccheaus: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

 

Kyle Pitts was the only true weapon Matt Ryan had at his disposal on Sunday, and he was shadowed by Stephon Gilmore all day long. He had the bulk of his targets early in the game and then it felt like Ryan barely looked his way the rest of the day, though he did drop a beautiful throw from Ryan that likely left a bad taste in Ryan’s mouth. Gilmore also had safety help for much of the day while covering Pitts, so he had no shot at getting open all day. If this is how defenses are going to cover him while Ridley is out, this offense is going nowhere.

Tajae Sharpe was Ryan’s check down guy for most of the day. He looked alright. I wouldn’t run out to pick him up or anything, but this is a situation to monitor because Russell Gage was a complete no-show in this game. Sharpe may have some PPR value in deeper leagues if he keeps getting some volume.

 

Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)

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