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Best and Worst Fantasy Football Plays for Eagles-Panthers

[CSNPhily] Best and worst fantasy football plays for Eagles-Panthers

Taking a look at the Eagles' Week 6 matchup with the Panthers from a fantasy perspective:

TE Zach Ertz
Don't be surprised if this is Ertz's first quiet statistical game of the season. The Panthers have allowed the fifth-fewest catches and fourth-fewest receiving yards to tight ends this season, allowing an average of 3.4 catches for 36.8 yards.

But the reasoning here goes beyond that. Carson Wentz has been heavily reliant on Ertz on third down, in the red zone ... pretty much whenever he's in a bind. Smart coaches notice those things. And taking away Wentz's top security blanket seems like a good way to rattle him and shake up an offense that has been thriving.

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With Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, the Panthers have linebackers with enough speed and athleticism to stay with Ertz early in routes. And they'll surely commit a safety or corner to staying with him after that initial jam off the line of scrimmage. 

It would just make a lot of sense for the Panthers' game plan to be: Let Wentz beat us by throwing to anyone other than Ertz. And for that reason, this could be Ertz's first single-digit PPR fantasy game of the season.

Projected stat line: 4 catches, 52 yards

WR Alshon Jeffery
After drawing Josh Norman, Marcus Peters, Janoris Jenkins, Casey Hayward and Patrick Peterson in the season's first five weeks, Jeffery has his best matchup of the year. He'll line up opposite James Bradberry most of the night and also see some of Philly native Daryl Worley. Both have average to below-average in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.

These next three games could be among Jeffery's best of the season. After tonight, he'll see the Norman-less Redskins in Week 7, then the 49ers in Week 8 before a rough matchup against the Broncos in Week 9.

Despite the tough matchups all season, Jeffery has managed to be a low-end WR2 in fantasy, averaging 4 catches for 50 yards with two touchdowns. Wentz hasn't targeted him a ton the last two weeks, throwing Jeffery's way just 10 times total against the Chargers and Cardinals.

That should change tonight because of Jeffery's matchup and the expectation that more emphasis is placed by the Panthers on shutting down Ertz.

Projected stat line: 7 catches, 115 yards, TD

RB Christian McCaffrey
As I said in our Eagles predictions post, I think this is going to be the McCaffrey breakout game. He gained some much-needed confidence last week with his first touchdown on a shovel pass from Cam Newton, who continues to heavily involve his rookie in the red zone.

McCaffrey has not been effective as a running back yet, carrying the ball 34 times for just 96 yards (2.8 average) with a long of 11 yards. His damage has come in the passing game, where he's averaged 5 catches for 47 yards.

Plodding running backs like Jonathan Stewart rarely seem to gouge the Eagles, so it could be McCaffrey's change-of-pace quickness that keeps them off balance, specifically in the red zone.

The Eagles have said this week that they're committed to using corners, safeties and linebackers on McCaffrey. Because they've had Darren Sproles, they know how to defend a quick, shifty scat back. But the Panthers have so many options inside the red zone that McCaffrey should be able to sneak out for a score or two.

Projected stat line: 85 total yards, 2 TDs

WR Torrey Smith, WR Nelson Agholor
Even with byes, you'd have to be in a really deep league to even consider starting one of these guys. If you're playing either, you're taking a stab in the dark that one of them will haul in a long pass, which is just not easy to predict.

Through five games, the Panthers have allowed just six pass plays of 25-plus yards. Two of them were short throws that the skill player turned into long gains. The other four were all deep balls to the left side of the field.

Because Ertz and Jeffery will draw the most attention, there will be 1-on-1 opportunities for Wentz to connect with Smith and Agholor. But neither is a confident start.

Projected Smith stat line: 3 catches, 50 yards

Projected Agholor stat line: 2 catches, 24 yards

RB LeGarrette Blount
Blount has been money the last three weeks, rushing 42 times for 277 yards (6.6 average) with one TD. This is a different type of test, though, against a strong Carolina defensive line and elite linebacker group.

Yards between the tackles won't be easy for Blount to come by tonight, especially with the Eagles down their best O-lineman in Lane Johnson. 

Blount last faced the Panthers in 2014 so there isn't a ton of film to go on here. 

But based on Carolina's track record this season, running the ball doesn't seem as logical as it did against the Chargers or Cardinals.

In Week 1, Carlos Hyde had nine carries for 45 yards against the Panthers.

In Week 2, LeSean McCoy rushed 12 times for nine yards.

In Week 4, the Patriots got nothing going on the ground against the Panthers. 

Nor did the Lions in Week 5.

Where running backs have found success against Carolina is in the passing game. Hyde, McCoy, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, James White and Theo Riddick combined for 31 catches for 193 yards.

That could mean a bigger statistical night for Corey Clement or Kenjon Barner, thought Blount is always a solid option for a TD.

Projected Blount stat line: 15 carries, 55 yards, TD

Other notes
• I'd start Wentz this week over Philip Rivers, Derek Carr and Ben Roethlisberger. I would not start Wentz over Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford or Kirk Cousins.

• Newton is an obvious must-start.

• I've never been a huge fan of Kelvin Benjamin in fantasy. He's just so incredibly inconsistent and disappears for full halves. He has as much 15-point potential as he has 4-point potential. Benjamin is not great at gaining separation, but he is great at hauling in a tough third-down throw in traffic. I'm pegging him for 4 catches and 54 yards tonight.

Devin Funchess has been on a roll of late. Newton has targeted him 27 times the last three games and Funchess has caught 18 passes for 181 yards and three TDs over that span. If you have him, you're likely starting him tonight. Based on volume alone, he seems like a safe 12-to-14 points in PPR.

• Stay away from Panthers TE Ed Dickson. Don't be roped in by that random 175-yard performance last Sunday against the Lions. The Eagles are always stingy against opposing tight ends and Dickson has never been much of a pass-catcher, struggling throughout his career with drops.

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