Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers Matchup Preview 11/17/19: Analysis, Depth Charts, Daily Fantasy

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Last Sunday, both the Atlanta Falcons (2-7) and the Carolina Panthers (5-4) had big games with a lot on the line. The Falcons headed into the Mercedes-Benz dome in New Orleans and took down Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints. After half a season of defensive inefficiency, head coach Dan Quinn is ecstatic that his defense was able to pressure Brees repeatedly and harass him in the secondary. If the Falcons D can continue to play at this caliber, Quinn might be able to keep his job for the foreseeable future.
For the Panthers, last Sunday’s results weren’t as positive. Despite impressive performances from QB Kyle Allen and RB Christian McCaffery, their offense came up one yard short against the Packers. With the Saints currently leading the NFC South, the Panthers desperately need a victory against the Falcons to keep their playoff hopes alive. Especially since the Vikings and Seahawks have a high probability of clinching wildcard spots, Carolina’s defense needs to step up against the Falcons.

TV Schedule

Date: Sunday, November 17th, 2019
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC
Coverage: FOX

Injury Report:

Atlanta Falcons: A. Hooper (knee) Q, J. Cominsky (ankle) O*, J. Carter (coach’s decision) O*, D. Senat (coach’s decision) O*, B. Powell (coach’s decision) O*, M. Gono (coach’s decision) O*, W. Schweitzer (concussion) O*, D. Trufant (toe) O*, D. Freeman (ankle) Q, I. Smith (concussion) IR , J. Cyprien (foot) IR, M. Bosher (groin) IR, K. Neal (Achilles) IR, R. Hageman (undisclosed) IR, C. Lindstrom (foot) IR, T. Calhoun (undisclosed) IR, R. Brown (undisclosed) IR, A. Gray (undisclosed) IR, M. Simms (undisclosed) IR, K. Benkert (toe) IR , M. Bennett (ankle) IR, J. Wilcox (ACL) IR, J. Langford (undisclosed) Q, S. Means (Achilles) IR

Carolina Panthers: J. Kunaszyk (coach’s decision) O*, G. Dortch (coach’s decision) O*, B. Witzmann (coach’s decision) O*, G. Little (concussion) O*, J. Bradberry (groin) O*, C. Miller (coach’s decision) O*, B. Zylstra (coach’s decision) O*, C. Newton (foot) IR, N. Jamerson (foot) IR, C. Hogan (knee) IR, K. Short (shoulder) IR, B. Greene (neck) IR, M. Baugh (undisclosed) IR, K. O’Brien (undisclosed) IR, G. Gano (knee) IR, D. Gordon (shoulder) IR, M. Frazier (arm) Q
*- status as of week 10

Atlanta Falcons Analysis

Atlanta Falcons
Heading into week eight, the Falcons had gone four straight games without a sack. However, in their last two games, the Falcons defensive line has stepped up, accumulating eight sacks in their last two games. Their defensive line put up a stellar performance against the New Orleans Saints, particularly the three-headed monster of Grady Jarret, Vic Beasley, and Adrian Clayborn. Their DL accumulated 25 total pressures, 11 QB hurries, and six sacks, with Clayborn and Jarrett accounting for 13 of those pressures, and four of those sacks. If the Falcons can continue this pressure into next Sunday, Kyle Allen will have his hands full trying to go through his progressions.

Despite ranking fifth in the league in terms of passing yards/game, QB Matt Ryan didn’t have his most productive performance on Sunday. He finished with 182 yards, 57.1% completion percentage, 2 TDs, and 5.2 yards per attempt. While Matt Ryan is usually a quality game manager, he has seen an uptick in his interception numbers, falling in the bottom 10 in terms of INT % rate and total interceptions. Ryan needs to be less careless with the football, especially against a Panthers defense that ranks third-best in the NFL in terms of interceptions.

The Falcons offensive line needs to improve if they’re going to protect Matt Ryan. Their OL is currently allowing a 9% sack rate, and let their running backs to be stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage 23% of the time, which both are the fifth highest in the NFL (football outsiders). Their OL showed modest improvement last Sunday, only allowing one sack on 38 dropbacks. However, they surrendered 13 total pressures, with OL James Carpenter allowing five of those pressures. Likewise, their OL struggled to create any room for their running backs, who only ran for 3.3 yards per carry.

Atlanta Falcons Depth Chart

QB: Matt Ryan
RB1: Devonta Freeman
RB2: Ito Smith
WR1: Julio Jones
WR2: Calvin Ridley
WR3: Russell Gage
TE: Austin Hooper

Carolina Panthers Analysis

Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have been led this season by their versatile, bell-cow running back, Christian McCaffery. McCaffery currently leads the NFL in terms of yards from scrimmage per game, due to his insane ability to generate yards in both the ground and passing game. In fact, the former Stanford Cardinal’s presence in the passing game is so apparent, that he is third amongst Panthers players in terms of total target share. When you look at the advanced stats, McCaffery has been a monster, ranking 1st in terms of breakaway runs, 6th in terms of evaded tackles, and 5th in terms of player productivity (player profiler).

Despite coming into the year with the 22nd ranked receiving corps, the Carolina Panthers has been surprisingly effective. They currently rank 12th in terms of receiving yardage per game, while ranking in the top ten in terms of fewest drops. D.J. Moore has been especially productive, ranking 12th in the NFL with 76 receiving yards per game, and 3rd in terms of completed contested catch rate. As a whole, the Panthers receiving corps should excel against the Falcons secondary, which is surrendering the eighth-most receiving yards to opponents.

On the defensive side of the football, the Carolina Panthers have been extremely effective at generating turnovers and sacks. The Panthers currently have the third-most turnovers, with their secondary forcing an incredible 12 interceptions. Along the defensive line, the Panthers are now first with 36 sacks this season. Mario Addison has led the way with seven sacks, but rookie Brian Burns has exceeded expectations, recording 4.5 sacks. Expect Matt Ryan to have one of his worst outings statistically against this daunting defense.

Kyle Allen is the X-factor for the Panthers in week 11. While he has been a solid game manager in his short time as the Panthers starting signal-caller, he has struggled to put up productive stats consistently. Resultantly, he ranks 26th in terms of QBR, 19th in terms of passing yards/game, and has been the 9th most sacked QB despite only playing in seven games. These numbers need to improve, especially against an Atlanta Falcons secondary that has been shoddy against the pass.

Carolina Panthers Depth Chart

QB: Kyle Allen
RB1: Christian McCaffrey
RB2: Reggie Bonnafon
WR1: D.J. Moore
WR2: Curtis Samuel
WR3: Jarius Wright
TE: Greg Olsen

Daily Fantasy

Julio Jones has been one of the most reliable fantasy wideouts this season and is a WR1 for week 11. Jones has scored 10+ fantasy points in four consecutive games, and 15+ points in six of his nine games. Fantasy owners should be especially thrilled about the fact that Jones has had four straight productive games without a TD reception. Jones also leads all Falcons pass-catchers in terms of targets, and with Austin Hooper out for week 11, Jones should see an increased level of production against the Panthers.

Matt Ryan is a low-end QB2 option against the Panthers, and that’s only in the deepest of leagues. Ryan is currently the 13th best QB in terms of fantasy points, according to Yahoo Fantasy, and is going against a Panthers defense that has the third-most interceptions. To make matters worse, Ryan’s offensive line allows the fifth-highest sack rate in the NFL, which is horrible news considering he’s going against a Panthers defense that has the most sacks in the NFL. Ryan just lost his second-best pass catcher, making a QB to avoid in week 11.

This is completely obvious, but Christian McCaffery is a must-start as long as he’s healthy. Run CMC has recorded a whopping 20+ points in all but one of his games, with 25+ points in seven contests. Furthermore, McCaffery has scored at least one rushing touchdown in all but one game this season, along with three receiving TDs this season. The Falcons are allowing 29+ fantasy points to opposing RBs this year, which is the 4th most in the NFL, so you’d be crazy to bench him in week 11.

D.J. Moore has been incredible since week five, averaging 15.5 fantasy points per game. Moore leads all Panthers players in terms of target share and has recorded 5+ receptions in all but two games this year. Additionally, the former Terrapin has had 100+ receiving yards and 7+ catches in two straight games. The Falcons are allowing the 4th most fantasy points to WRs this season, making Moore a reliable WR1/high-end WR2 option in week 11.

I am a junior at Morehouse College, majoring in economics. I have experience as a data analyst at Pro Football Focus and as a football scouting intern at Fanteractive.com. I enjoy scouting and analyzing NCAAF and NFL games, especially quarterback and running back play.

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