Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Game Time: Thursday, October 29th, 2020 at 8:20pm ET
Line: Panthers -2.5

Matt Ryan – Funny how that happens. Julio Jones returns, and Matt Ryan has back-to-back 300-yard games. Sure, he had just one touchdown, but sometimes Todd Gurley actually does something. The Panthers are a fairly strong pass defense, but Ryan is just one of the best out there. They did allow nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns to Drew Brees last week and you can expect similar output from Ryan heading into Week 8. 

Todd Gurley – It isn’t often that scoring a touchdown is bad, but Gurley likely cost his team the game with his second score of the week on Sunday when he allowed the Lions to have too much time and they came back and won the game. However, Gurley did have 63 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Now, let’s not pretend this was any great game. He carried the ball 23 times and averaged 2.7 yards per carry. The second straight week and the third time this season he averaged less than three yards a carry. The Panthers have allowed ten rushing touchdowns this season, so Gurley isn’t a terrible play on Thursday. 

Julio Jones – He had his second straight game with eight catches and fell just three yards short of his second straight 100-yard game. Jones didn’t score and still only has the two from last week on the season. In any game he has been healthy, Julio has scored you at least 17 fantasy points in PPR leagues. Carolina has a couple of really solid corners, but there is no way you can consider sitting him in any game. There will likely be better options at his DFS salary though. 

Calvin Ridley – After 100 yards in four of the first give games, Ridley has failed to top 70 in either of the last two games. However, he now has six touchdowns on the season, and remains one of the top ten receivers in fantasy football. Julio Jones being healthy helps him so much as he takes the top corner away. Ridley remains an amazing play every week and he will be a strong DFS option this week as well. 

Russell Gage – He has ten catches for 119 yards in the last two weeks, and when the Falcons offense is in high gear, he remains fantasy relevant. The problem is, we don’t know when those games might be. As has been stated before, the Panthers are actually a solid pass defense so unless you are dealing with injuries and bye week issues, he probably isn’t a great Week 8 option. 

Hayden Hurst – We finally see some pulse from Hurst as he has had 12 fantasy points or more in each of the last two weeks. He had a solid seven targets this past week against the Lions, and he had six catches for 68 yards. Considering what we were dealing with earlier in the year, this seems like a 30-fantasy point day! The Panthers have allowed about ten fantasy points a game to the tight end, and Hurst is a lower-end TE1 option for Week 8. 

Teddy Bridgewater – After his Week 7 game against the Saints, Bridgewater has two passing touchdowns in three of the last four weeks. I have long called him a game manager, but Bridgewater is proving more than that with how he has played. He has completed 70 percent of his passes in five of seven weeks and has played very well. He threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns in Week 5 against the Falcons and Bridgewater is a great option in all fantasy formats this week. 

Mike Davis – I am not buying that McCaffrey is going to come back on a Thursday night, so I think Davis gets another start. Obviously if McCaffrey plays, he is a must-start, and Davis fits in that category as well if CMC remains out. He had 89 rushing yards and a season high nine catches against the Falcons in Week 5. Davis has had at least 13 carries in the four games before Week 7 and more five or more targets in every game but one. He will remain a dynamite option for one final week before McCaffrey returns. 

Robby Anderson – He led the team in targets even though his output has been a little below his average in each of the last two weeks. He is still averaging five catches and 76 yards, so it isn’t like he’s doing poorly, he was just that good in the first five weeks of the year. Anderson had a huge eight-catch, 110-yard effort against the Falcons a few weeks ago and is in play in both DFS and season long leagues. 

D.J. Moore – It is kind of crazy that Moore has had exactly 93 yards in three straight games. His target share has been inconsistent with five, eleven, and five in the last three weeks. Moore has three touchdowns in the last three weeks after having none in the first four weeks. He certainly seems like he has gotten comfortable now and was great with those 93 yards against the Falcons back on October 11th. Moore is a great option in any fantasy format in Week 8. 

Curtis Samuel – I know you might be tempted to use Samuel after his six-catch game in Week 7 that included a rushing touchdown. He has been very average this season, and maybe below average. While I said that Teddy Bridgewater has been better than expected, the Panthers offense isn’t good enough for three receivers to be fantasy relevant. Samuel had just 64 total yards in Week 5 against the Falcons and you can avoid him in your lineups on Thursday. 

Summary: While the Falcons put up great fantasy numbers when the offense is intact, they find amazing ways to lose games on a weekly basis. I have been far more impressed with the Panthers this year than I expected to be, and Teddy Bridgewater has been better than I could have guessed. Atlanta’s defense is just too poor, and the Panthers defense is good enough not to let Matt Ryan explode the scoreboard. This should be another close one but 2020 tells us that the Falcons will find a way to lose a close game late. 

Prediction: Panthers 28, Falcons 27