Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers NFL DFS Picks: Will Marcus Mariota Shine on TNF?

Week 10 kicks off Thursday Night Football with another uninspiring matchup, this time with the Carolina Panthers hosting the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers are just 2-7 this season and searching for their first home victory. Atlanta refuses to pass the ball and they are spreading the carries across the backfield. Let’s dive in to some NFL DFS picks for TNF including Marcus Mariota.

Heading into NFL Week 10 Thursday Night Football, Stokastic is bringing plenty of NFL DFS tools and information for all of the different slates, game formats and sites.

This column will provide a free analysis of the single-slate action on DraftKings and FanDuel. It includes team capsules, player rankings, comments and NFL DFS picks. There is loads of information and NFL DFS Showdown analysis to get into for both DraftKings and FanDuel on this Week 10 Thursday Night Football slate featuring the Atlanta Falcons at the Carolina Panthers.

NFL DFS Picks: Week 10 Thursday Night Football | Falcons-Panthers

The Falcons will be without DBs A.J. Terrell (hamstring) and Erik Harris (foot) along with TE Felelpe Franks (calf).

The Panthers are missing WR Rashard Higgins (illness)and DB Justin Burris (concussion). This week RB Chuba Hubbard (ankle) is expected to play while DT Matthew Ioannidis
 (back), CB Donte Jackson (ankle) and OT Taylor Moton (elbow) are questionable.

Atlanta Falcons: 22.5 Points


The Stokastic fantasy projections are generously projecting Marcus Mariota for 24.7 pass attempts, which is ahead of only Justin Fields. Since the opener against New Orleans when the former Heisman Winner attempted 33 passes, Mariota has surpassed 26 attempts only once, coincidently that was in Week 8 against the Panthers when he was 20 of 28 for 235 yards and three touchdowns, accompanied by a pair of picks.

Carolina has has a bottom five passing DVOA per Football Outsiders, though opposing quarterbacks have thrown for more than 260 yards only twice. Mariota is the only quarterback to record three aerials scores against the Panthers, so hopefully head coach Arthur Smith has not lost sight of that performance in the last fortnight.

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Running Back

Cordarrelle Patterson returned last Sunday after missing a month with a knee injury. This made for a crowded backfield with Patterson on the field 39% of the time, rookie Tyler Allgeier 38% and Caleb Huntley 21% along with fullback Keith Smith who was in for his standard 25% of the offensive plays.

Patterson had 13 carries for 44 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving him five rushing scores on the season. Through his five games, he has only eight targets, though a lot of that can be attributed to the double whammy of a shared backfield and a low volume passing attack.

Allgeier had his best rushing performance of the season with 99 yards on 10 totes and he should come close to matching the carries allocated to Patterson. Huntley is the odd man out, but he likely will still approach half a dozen carries in this run first offense. Keep in mind he does not have a single target on the season.

Avery Williams will serve as the fourth running back and though he does get in on a few passing plays, it is hard to envision more than two or three opportunities now that Patterson is healthy.

Wide Receiver

Rookie Drake London feels like a wasted draft pick, though he does lead the team with 56 targets. Unfortunately, defenses know that he will be the primary read in passing situations and they have been able to keep him in check when he does get chances.

Olamide Zaccheaus has 25 targets with at last two in all but one game. The cupboard is bare after that with Khadarel Hodge next up with 14 targets, but only two since Week 5  and Damiere Byrd with 10 looks, though eight have been in the last three games.

Tight End

Kyle Pitts has been relatively quite, though he is second on the team with 46 targets and he has seen 21 in the last three games. Theoretically he is the best red zone target, but with so few opportunities, it is hard to be excited about him having a viable fantasy score in any given game.

Parker Hesse and MyCole Pruitt will be on the field regularly as the Falcons like to run out of two-tight end sets. Over the last four games, each of these players has a pair of targets. Good luck guessing who may see one tonight.

Defense/Special Teams

Atlanta has four sacks over their last five games and only the Raiders have less on the season. Carolina is allowing just over two sacks per game with a middle of the pack 12 turnovers. The Falcons are eighth overall with 13 takeaways, though just four have occurred in the their five most recent matchups.

Carolina Panthers: 20.0 Points


The Falcons are allowing a league worst 300 passing yards per game and only the Lions (417.3) are allowing more yards per game than Atlanta’s 406.9. P.J. Walker tallied a career best 317 yards against this defense in Week 8 with a chunk coming on a Hail Mary that forced overtime. Last week Walker was benched at halftime for Baker Mayfield who made a little garbage time noise in a 42-21 drubbing by the Bengals.

This week Sam Darnold should be healthy enough to be activated from the injured reserve, which adds in another option. Mostly likely Walker will start and just one of Mayfield or Darnold will be active as the backup. Of course we could see another abbreviated outing from Walker, but as long as he starts, we should roster him without hesitation.

Running Back

Chuba Hubbard is back after missing two games due to an ankle injury. D’Onta Foreman had a pair of 118 yard rushing efforts in the absence of Hubbard and of course Christian McCaffrey. Last week however, Foreman managed only 23 yards on seven carries and aside from his three touchdown game in Atlanta, he has not done enough to distance himself from Hubbard in a likely timeshare situation.

Raheem Blackshear is the backup and he did score his first career touchdown on Sunday and he added 40 yards while bringing in all four of his targets. However, at his current salary he is only a realistic option if Hubbard remains out or we get word of a stringent snap count prior to kickoff.

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Wide Receiver

DJ Moore continues to be the top option with Terrace Marshall Jr. stepping into the snaps vacated by Robbie Anderson who was dealt to Arizona. Veteran Rashard Higgins is out with an illness, so Shi Smith and Laviska Shenault Jr. will round out the receiving corps. Smith has logged the second most snaps among the receivers this season and over the last three games he has 102 compared to the 27 for Shenault. Do not let the name recognition of Shenault sway your decision.

Tight End

Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble are splitting the snap share and they each have 18 targets. Over the last three games however, Tremble has nine compared to only two for Thomas, so this is another situation to not be driven by the familiarity of Thomas has previously been a DFS darling in late season action.

Defense/Special Teams

Carolina does have two sacks in three of their last five games, though only a trio of takeaways in that same timeframe. Atlanta has ceded multiple sack in each of their last eight games and even on limited dropbacks, Mariotta still holds onto the ball far too long. The Falcons have done a decent job taking care of the ball, but anything can happen to the visiting team in an island game.

Thursday Night Football Single-Game NFL DFS Strategy For Falcons-Panthers

The rankings below are best utilized for building out single-entry and three-max lineups, and for head-to-head and three-man formats. They provide a nice barometer for player value. However, those taking the MME approach should remember that correlation is key. This means matching a receiver or two with a quarterback in the Captain/MVP slot. That also works conversely, pairing a Captain/MVP pass catcher with their quarterback.

Week 10 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Rankings For Falcons-Panthers

Top 10 NFL DFS Showdown Picks

  1. Marcus Mariota: It is unlikely that we see rookie Desmond Ritter with the Falcons currently leading the NFC South, despite a 4-5 record.
  2. Cordarrelle Patterson: On the short week he will likely remain in a timeshare, but he has the clearest path to high value touches.
  3. DJ Moore: Best bet for the Panthers to move the ball and even though the Falcons know that, they still do not have the defensive presence to do much about it.
  4. P.J. Walker: Let others worry about the risk of another in-game benching.
  5. Terrace Marshall Jr.: All eyes are on Moore, so he has been solid the last two weeks with 15 targets for 7/140/1.
  6. Kyle Pitts: Only two games with more than 28 yards and just a pair of touchdowns to his credit.
  7. D’Onta Foreman: Deserves the first chance at carries for his recent performance.
  8. Drake London: Seven consecutive games of eight or fewer fantasy points – in full-PPR scoring formats.
  9. Chuba Hubbard: It won’t take much for him to surpass Foreman, but he may be a bit rusty in his first game back.
  10. Younghoe Koo: 2020 Pro Bowler is having a down season, but gets multiple field goal attempts in most games.

Secondary NFL DFS Showdown Picks For Falcons-Panthers

  1. Eddy Pineiro: No field goal attempts in two of his last three, two other outings with only one.
  2. Olamide Zaccheaus: Not particularly inspiring with three total targets over the last two weeks.
  3. Carolina D/ST: Homefield nod.
  4. Falcons D/ST: Facing a below replacement level quarterback, regardless of who is under center tonight.
  5. Tyler Allgeier: Needs a touchdown or mop up duty to pay off this salary.

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Lottery Ticket NFL DFS Showdown Picks For Falcons-Panthers

  1. Shi Smith: Could be overlooked and it would be for good reason, also returns punts.
  2. Tommy Tremble and Ian Thomas: Coinflip for the Carolina tight end duo.
  3. Damiere Byrd: Over under is 2.5 targets, still worthy of his own line.
  4. Caleb Huntley: Needs to rumble his way into the secondary for a 20-yarder or luck into a touchdown.
  5. Raheem Blackshear: Meh, does return kickoffs and likely will get a couple plays on offense.
  6. Laviska Shenault Jr., MyCole Pruitt, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Bryan Edwards and Khadarel Hodge: We have at least heard of these guys.
  7. Parker Hesse and Giovanni Ricci: Third string tight ends are the island game elixer.
  8. Keith Smith and Avery Williams: Smith may be inactive, Williams does play special teams returning punts and kickoffs and gets the occasional offensive snap.

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Eric MacPherson
Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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