Each week we pull the gang together, or at least some of us, to talk fantasy football on our weekly podcast. Typically those fall on Thursday nights during the game, which means we give you zero insight into the fantasy implications of the Thursday night game. That's kinda shitty of us I'd say.

So I'm here to make amends or whatever you call it. Simply I want to give you my fantasy expectations for this weeks Thursday night fantasy matchup.

The New Orleans Saints are going to Carolina to face the Panthers. We know Drew Brees has been less than stellar on the road and we know the Panthers defense ain't what it used to be. So what do these things mean for your fantasy team? Let's talk a walk through my thoughts (a virtual one of course. A real one would be creepy).

General Thursday Night Fantasy Impacts

People talk about TNF providing down games for fantasy players. I've never been able to find numbers to support that.

What I do see however is that Cam Newton owners should be getting excited. This week begins the schedule they've been waiting for (me included). His schedule the rest of the way is Saints, Eagles, Falcons, Vikings, Saints, Bucs and Browns. All teams that you can run and throw on. Cam will be frustrating to own during some of those weeks, as he always is, but there are some chances for huge games.

The over-under on this game is 49 points (third highest of week 9). I expect a lot of points from both sides.

Brees struggles on the road, don't forget that.

Panthers to Trust on Thursday Night

It's important to note that the Saints allow almost 27 points per game, they rank 28th in yards allowed and play on a short week after their Sunday night game in week 8.

Cam Newton: We'll start with the QB. You should be starting Cam, assuming you don't own one of the every week studs that are no brainers. I think Cam has a really nice game both in the air and on the ground to make fantasy owners happy.

Kelvin Benjamin: When it comes to Kelvin Benjamin, put this man in your lineup. He has flirted with WR1 all season long, leads the team in targets, had almost 100 yards against Richard Sherman in week 8 and plays against the Saints. I can't imagine you have 3 better options in a standard league, but hey I could be wrong.

It's worth noting that the Saints Keenan Lewis kept Jordy in check during week 8 holding him to 3 catches for 25 yards. Prior to that this is how the top WR's performed against them:

  • Golden Tate - 10 catches for 154 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Vincent Jackson - 8 catches for 144 yards
  • Dez Bryant - 3 catches for 44 yards and 1 touchdown
  • Greg Jennings - 5 catches for 70 yards
  • Andrew Hawkins - 6 catches for 70 yards
  • Julio Jones - 7 catches for 116 yards

Were they all blowout performances? Nope. They were good ones for PPR owners nearly all around and some okay games for standard users. I think you'll do just fine with Kelvin Benjamin tonight.

Greg Olsen: Let's look at Greg Olsen, who let owners who trusted him in week 8 down (1 catch for 16 yards). I think Olsen remains a mid-range TE1 for all formats. I mean with the over-under what it is, he'll get his looks. They guy is on pace for career highs in yards, catches and touchdowns. Play the man.

I know this is supposed to be all about guys to trust, but, don't play the Panthers defense. Just had to say that. Okay moving on.

Saints to Trust on Thursday Night

Drew Brees: Brees has been an up and down roller coaster for owners this year. He just hasn't been what you expected when you drafted him. I think he's a mid-range QB1 and you're starting him if you own him. You don't own a better option.

Mark Ingram: Both Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson are expected to miss tonights game with injuries. That puts Ingram in the legit RB1 category. So far this season the Panthers have given up 934 yards and 7 TDS (5.2 YPC) to running backs. Ingram on the season (4 games for him) has 4 TD's, 7 receptions and is averging 5.7 YPC. I'd say that's a man that is running with a purpose. Look for him to gash the Panthers tonight.

Brandin Cooks: Cooks has, in theory, a tough matchup. I would say he's more of a WR3 this week despite his outburst on Sunday night football. The targets have never been the issue for Cooks (51 on the season, 2nd on the team), it's been the yards. He could break off a few big plays depending on the coverage. Once again the targets will be there, the yards may or may not be.

Jimmy Graham: If you own him you're starting him. He played 62% of the teams snaps last week, his highest since week 4. As he gets more comfortable playing through that shoulder injury he'll play better and better. Last year in two matchups with the Panthers he had 3 touchdowns and 131 yards. I'd expect at least 1 touchdown tonight. Start with confidence.

Avoid this defense too. It's gonna be a shootout.

Thursday Night Fantasy Desperation Plays

This is a truly if you're desperate section. You'll probably have better guys to choose from that are playing Sunday or Monday, but if the bye weeks hit you especially hard you can give these guys a whirl:

Jerricho Cotchery: He's currently 3rd on the team in targets behind Olsen and Benjamin with 38. He's a role play receiver that's averaged just below 7 targets per game over the last 5 weeks. The Saints 2nd and 3rd corners have been struggling. Cotchery could get you 5 catches and some fantasy points. Am I banking on it? No. But he's probably on your waiver wire (won't cost you anything) and may be the only thing you can afford if your entire team is on the bye. With the over-under what it is, those points and yards have to go somewhere.

Marques Colston: That felt gross typing that. The guy is unpredictable. He's has 8 or more targets in 3 of 7 games and 6 or less in the others. He could break deep, he could not. The unpredictability scares me away, but if you're feeling lucky he could break free for a score or some big yardage.

Wrapping Up My Expectations

This game is going to be a shootout.

I don't think I've told you anything fantasy wise you didn't already know. Maybe I gave you some reassurance, which is always a good thing.

The moral of the story is, start your studs and don't get cute. If you need someone for your fantasy football team in week 9 as a desperation play, I like Cotchery better than Colston. But I don't particularly love either.

Remember to check your lineups, play smart and as always, enjoy playing fantasy football.

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Nick Schreck

Nick Schreck

I’m a simple man with simple pleasures. As someone who’s always approached life with the attitude that things could be worse, I’ve had an awesome time so far. I've been a fantasy addict for nearly a decade, and I've loved every second of it.

For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
Nick Schreck
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