by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Thursday games are often tricky as it is, because there isn’t necessarily a reason to take any undue risks with questionable options (which could set you back and spoil your week). Who are the borderline players that should be in lineups? Who should be sat down? Let’s take a look at the skill players taking the field tonight and try to answer those questions:
Carson Wentz – Quarterback
Wentz is coming off a big day against the Cardinals, with 4 TD and 304 yards, and has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his five games this season. That would make him seem like a solid play in all formats, though don’t be so quick. The Panthers are not an easy matchup, having allowed the ninth fewest passing yards (1,074) and ranking as giving up the 24th fewest points per week to opposing QB.
While they had some easier matchups early in the season, Carolina has faced Drew Brees (220 yards and 3 TD) and Tom Brady (307 yards, 2 TD). That represents 5 of the 7 passing TD they’ve yielded, and we can all agree that Wentz is not quite at that level. There’s the potential that he has a big day, but he’s hardly a must play. Consider him a borderline QB1, depending on your alternatives.
Verdict – Borderline QB1
LeGarrette Blount – Running Back
Blount has put up strong numbers when given the opportunity, averaging 5.8 yards/carry on his 56 carries. The problem here is that he isn’t a factor in the passing game and has also struggled to find the end zone (1 TD). The Panthers are allowing 3.7 yards/carry to opposing running backs this season, and they have been a bit more susceptible to those who can catch the football (242 receiving yards, which is the 11th most in the league). The production is what keeps Blount as a possible RB2, though he’s a TD dependent option. He’s more of a FLEX play.
Verdict – TD dependent option (better as a FLEX)
Wendell Smallwood – Running Back
A healthy Smallwood would be an intriguing option, but he missed Week 5 with a knee injury and hasn’t been practicing this week. Even if he manages to dress, it’s impossible to think that he won’t be limited (at best). That makes him impossible to trust.
Verdict – Must sit
Alshon Jeffrey – Wide Receiver
He’s had a tough schedule over the first few weeks, but things should get better. While Jeffrey has exceeded 56 yards just once in five games this season (92 yards in Week 2), look for him to get an increased workload without Patrick Peterson or Janoris Jenkins covering him (10 targets over the past two weeks). Consider him a good play as a WR2 in all formats.
Verdict – Solid WR2 option
Nelson Agolor – Wide Receiver
He got 5 targets last week, while Jeffrey was shadowed by Patrick Peterson. Look for that to change this week, with Agholor trailing Jeffrey and Ertz in the pecking order. Maybe you want to consider him as a WR3, but he’s nothing more than that.
Verdict – Borderline WR3 option
- Zach Ertz – Tight End
Jonathan Stewart – Running Back
He’s dominated the carries thus far, but he’s averaging 3.3 yards/carry and has yet to find the end zone (he did have a receiving TD in Week 1). The Eagles have been among the best defenses against opposing running backs (fourth fewest points per week), allowing just 3.5 yards/carry. Given the matchup, the poor performances he’s coming off (18 carries for 21 yards) and the Thursday game, the risk likely outweighs the potential reward.
Verdict – Potential FLEX play, but risky
Devin Funchess – Wide Receiver
Funchess is coming off back-to-back big days, with 14 receptions, 123 yards and 3 TD. Of course a lot of that value comes from the touchdowns, and there’s no guarantee that he scores this week (it’s easy to imagine those opportunities going to Kelvin Benjamin). Given the bye weeks and the limited options it’s easy to consider him a risky WR2, but there should be more than enough opportunities to utilize him as a WR3.
Verdict – Must use WR3
Ed Dickson – Tight End
Sure he exploded in Week 5, catching 5 passes for 175 yards, but does anyone really expect him to even come close to that? Don’t buy in because of one big game.
Verdict – Don’t buy in
- Cam Newton – Quarterback
- Christian McCaffrey – Running Back
- Kelvin Benjamin – Wide Receiver
Sources – ESPN, CBS Sports, NFL.com
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Make sure to check out all of our Week 6 rankings: