Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Falcons vs Panthers: Calls on Drake London, D’Onta Foreman, More
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images. Pictured: Drake London.
Week 10 of the 2022 NFL season kicks off with a Thursday Night Football NFC South showdown that nobody asked for.
The good news is that this will be both teams’ only primetime game of the year. The bad news is that we do have to endure a rainy and windy island game between two teams with losing records. The Falcons (4-5) are currently tied with the Buccaneers for first place in the division, while the Panthers (2-7) sit in lone possession of last place.
Records and standings aside, both squads have had their fair share of struggles this year. The Falcons and Panthers are 29th and 28th, respectively, in overall defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. The major difference has come down to offense: The Panthers rank bottom ten in offensive points per game, bottom three in offensive yards per game and benched their quarterback mid-game last week. One positive is that there were 71 points scored collectively the last time these squads played, which was only two weeks ago.
Some lineup decisions, like starting D.J. Moore, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts are easy (though at times this season, it may not have felt that way). Below are some fringe players at each position you may be on the fence about starting in the Falcons vs. Panthers Thursday Night Football game based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Falcons Week 10 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
QB Marcus Mariota
Mariota is the QB20 on a per-game basis through nine weeks, but has had ups and downs this season. He was a complete dud in Weeks 4 and 9 and finished as the QB32 and QB24, respectively (remind me how many quarterbacks there are?).
Mariota also has finished as a top 6 quarterback in two of nine starts this year, one of which came against the Panthers in an overtime win in Week 8. He completed 20 passes on a season-high 28 attempts for 253 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and rushed six times for 43 yards.
Verdict: Start if you need a one-week fill-in. We have seen Mariota be successful against this very opponent just two weeks ago. We have also seen Mariota be unsuccessful as recently as last week against the Chargers. He has boom-or-bust potential, though I like his odds to boom versus the Panthers’ defense, which ranks 28th in pass DVOA and overall defensive DVOA.
The weather forecast is not looking rosy for Thursday night and could involve rain and high winds. Normally, this would be a massive downgrade for a quarterback, though Mariota’s rushing production should keep him relevant. He is averaging 33.8 rushing yards per game this year and 41.8 rushing yards per game in the last five weeks. The median outcome I predict is he will finish as a high-end QB2; he won’t lose you the week but he probably won’t win it for you either.
RB Tyler Allgeier
I made the mistake of pulling Allgeier from my lineups last minute amid the announcement that Cordarrelle Patterson would be returning last week. I thought that the Falcons would go back to leaning on Patterson as the alpha in this backfield. Both ended up being featured significantly: Allgeier saw 10 carries for 99 yards and caught a pass for 24 yards, while Patterson saw 13 carries for 44 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for nine yards. Caleb Huntley fell to the Falcons’ RB3 slot and saw seven carries for 34 yards.
Patterson led the triumvirate committee in snaps with 24, followed by Allgeier with 23 and Huntley with 13. I suspect this will be a committee moving forward with Patterson more involved in passing downs work and Allgeier featured more in early downs.
Verdict: Start as a RB3/RB4. Patterson is a borderline RB1 in this soft matchup against Carolina’s defense, which was just carved up like a delectable Christmas ham by Joe Mixon for a whopping six touchdowns. Allgeier should be fantasy-relevant, too, as both teams may be forced to lean on the run more due to inclement weather. The Panthers rank 23rd in rush DVOA and 30th in fantasy points allowed to running backs this year.
WR Drake London
London started the season off strong and was the WR12 in half-PPR through three weeks. Since then, the rookie has struggled and has not scored more than six fantasy points in any contest. In Weeks 4 through 9, London was the WR79 and has been completely unstartable.
The fault does not lie solely with London. In that stretch, Mariota has multiple games with single-digit completions, which obviously impacts the upside of all the Falcons’ pass catchers. London caught three-of-seven targets for 23 yards last week and was the WR70 with six teams on bye.
Verdict: Sit. I still believe in London’s long-term value, but he is borderline droppable in most redraft leagues at this time. I have minimal faith in him this week, even against the Panthers’ bottom-of-the-barrel pass defense.
Panthers Week 10 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
RB D’Onta Foreman and Chuba Hubbard
Foreman was a total dud in Week 9 with Hubbard sidelined. He rushed seven times for 23 yards and caught a pass for -2 yards, finishing as the RB42 in half-PPR scoring. He was outshined by Raheem Blackshear, who was just elevated from the Panthers’ practice squad, and rushed five times for 13 yards and a touchdown and caught seven of 23 yards.
Rewind two weeks, Hubbard was actually named the Panthers’ starter over Foreman with McCaffrey traded to San Francisco. Both had good days for fantasy in spite of what appeared to be a tougher matchup, with Foreman more involved on the ground and Hubbard more involved in the passing game and in the red zone (though he was injured in the contest).
Foreman shined the week after against the Falcons and saw a whopping 26 carries for 118 yards and three touchdowns. He was the RB5 for the week in what was by far his best game of the year.
Hubbard has not played since Week 7 against the Buccaneers dealing with an ankle injury. He is listed as questionable heading into Thursday night, though he did practice in a limited fashion on Monday and was a full participant on Tuesday and Wednesday, which suggests he could dress for this NFC South showdown.
Verdict: Start Foreman as a RB2 with RB1 upside if Hubbard is out. The Falcons are much worse against the pass than the run, but in light of the weather forecast, both teams are likely to go run-heavy no matter what.
If Hubbard starts, he should be considered a RB3/flex in this positive matchup. I suspect Foreman will be the alpha and will probably out-touch Hubbard, though Hubbard could definitely salvage his day with some usage in the passing game.
WR Terrace Marshall Jr.
Marshall has now posted two good games in a row for fantasy. In Week 9, he caught 3-of-6 targets for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals despite a mid-game change at quarterback and was the WR26 in half-PPR. In Week 8, the Year 2 wideout caught 4-of-9 targets for 87 yards against Atlanta and was the WR16.
Marshall will face the Falcons again in Week 10, this time at home, and should continue to see an uptick in targets with Christian McCaffrey gone.
Verdict: Start as a WR3/4. Even in light of the weather, Marshall’s recent success, coupled with the mouthwatering matchup against the Falcons, makes him a viable deeper-league starter this week. Atlanta’s defense ranks bottom four in pass DVOA and second-to-last in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers this year.