Game Overview ::
By Hilow >>
- The spread nature of the Eagles offense leaves all pass-catchers best reserved for MME play
- The game day status of Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey carries a significant impact on the fantasy prospectus of all other Panther players
- Panthers have volume, aggression, a plus matchup, and a narrow distribution of targets; giddy up
How Philadelphia Will Try To Win ::
The biggest concept to understand with the Eagles is that they are very much still trying to figure things out under first-time head coach Nick Sirianni. Through the first four weeks, the Eagles have played at the third highest situation-neutral pace of play with the ninth highest situation-neutral pass rates. Their defense was supposed to be (perception coming into the year) built from the front-back, designed to eliminate the run and play heavy man coverages on the back side. The reality is this defense has allowed the sixth lowest yards per completion (9.3) but fourth worst completion rate (72.73%) through the air to this point, with a moderate 4.4 yards allowed per carry and sixth most fantasy points allowed per game to opposing backfields. What this tells us is that Philadelphia’s defense is performing from the back forward, showing teams elevated coverages downfield and daring them to attack them over the short and intermediate areas and through the run. The further consequences of this changing dynamic with respect to how this defense has looked is the second-worst drive success rate and time of possession allowed per drive. When paired with the second-best opponent starting field position, we’re left with a team that hasn’t seen the ball for very long up to this point (25th-ranked 27:34 time of possession per game). All of this deep dive into their defense gives us a good idea of how the Eagles have been forced to operate on offense thus far, which has basically been through forced aggression, a difficult ask against a Panthers defense allowing the third fewest points per game (16.5) and total yards per game (251.5).
Overall, the Eagles have averaged just 22.5 rush attempts per game and quarterback Jalen Hurts accounts for 8.5 per game of those. This is likely mostly a function of game script and time of possession, but we can’t confidently project the running back duo of Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell for more than 15-20 combined rush attempts until we see a conceptual shift from this offense, leaving both highly reliant on touchdowns and pass game usage for their individual value. With a typical snap split of 65/35, both leave a lot to be desired, particularly in a difficult matchup.
The inefficiencies of this defense have forced the Eagles to primarily attack through the air up to this point, with quarterback Jalen Hurts attempting more than 35 passes in three out of four games. Not only is the offense also inefficient, but it is spread out. Only once all season has an individual pass-catcher gone for double-digit targets (Devonta Smith last week against a Chiefs team that scored 42 points, forcing 48 pass attempts from Hurts), and even then it is only good for a 20.8% team target market share. All of that to say, we can’t confidently project any of Smith, Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, Dallas Goedert, or Zach Ertz for enough volume to provide a bankable floor, instead relying on efficiency and touchdowns for fantasy production.
How Carolina Will Try To Win ::
The Panthers have been able to leverage their defensive success through a slow pace of play (25th) and balanced offense (middle of the pack 43% situation-neutral rush rate) through four weeks. One interesting thing to note is the tight range of offensive plays run from scrimmage and pass attempts per game through four games. The Panthers have run between 70 and 76 offensive plays in three out of four weeks, with the outlier being a 64 snap game in Week 1 against the hapless Jets. In those games, quarterback Sam Darnold has pass attempts ranging from 34 to 39 attempts, again, an extremely tight range of outcomes. Furthermore, there is nothing in each individual game script that should indicate a large shift in offensive philosophy (two blowout wins, one narrow win, and one moderate loss). What this means to me is that the Panthers are remaining aggressive deep into games regardless of game flow, a very important aspect to understand about this offense.
The ground game runs almost exclusively through Christian McCaffrey when healthy, but that is the issue this week. We don’t currently know what CMC’s game day status will be. He returned to practice on Wednesday after missing only one week with a hamstring injury. This dude is Superman. Should he play, CMC accounts for such a large portion of the available offensive touches from this offense that he needs to be in consideration each and every week he plays. The matchup on the ground yields an above-average 4.52 net-adjusted line yards metric on the backs of Philadelphia’s 31st-ranked value (5.10). Should CMC miss, expect rookie Chuba Hubbard to see a slight bump to his Week 4 snap rate (46%) and usage (15 running back opportunities) in a much more positive expected game environment.
The proverbial crème of the crop of the Panthers skill position players this season has been DJ Moore. Moore has commanded an elite 30.3% team target market share, holds a moderate 9.7 aDOT, and has gone for 79 yards receiving or more in every game thus far. He has also seen 11 or more targets in three of four games, with the only game where he failed to hit that mark being a Week 1 victory over the Jets. The deficiencies of the Eagles defense line up almost too perfectly for DJ Moore’s game here, making him one of the top wide receiver plays on the slate (and I guarantee he will not be viewed that way by the field). The Panthers target the tight end position at the lowest rate in the league (8%), instead targeting the wide receiver and running back positions heavily. Robby Anderson enjoyed his first game over six targets in Week 4 but was largely ineffective in his downfield role. The matchup and what the Eagles cede don’t align well with that role. Rookie slot-man Terrace Marshall, Jr. has seen six or fewer targets in every game thus far, working the short areas of the field.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
The high drive success rate of the Carolina offense paired with the poor drive success rate allowed by the Philadelphia defense creates a most likely game environment where the Panthers are able to control the pace and tempo here. This would again force increased aerial aggression from the Eagles as the game moves on and elevates their expected pass volume. Since the Panthers have shown such a tight range of offensive plays run from scrimmage and have remained aggressive deep into games regardless of game flow, look for a high likelihood for each team to see additional offensive plays run from scrimmage here.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
By LexMiraglia10 >>
- After outscoring opponents 69-30 to start the season and never trailing, CAR lost to DAL 28-36 in a game that was 14-36 at one point
- PHI was also blown out by that same DAL team the week before
- PHI is 1-3 ATS while CAR is 3-1 ATS
- QB passing vs PHI: Ryan (164:0) // Jimmy (189:1) // Dak (238:3) // Mahomes (278:5:1)
- QB rushing vs PHI: Ryan (2:8) // Jimmy (11:20:1) // Dak (9:6) // Mahomes (5:26)
- Darnold has three straight games of 300+ pass yds
- Darnold has five rushing TDs on the season already
- Darnold scored 20+ DK pts in just 8/38 games with NYJ (just one of 30+)
- Darnold has scored 20.1, 22.9, 28.3, 36.5 DK pts in his first three games for CAR
- Targets: Moore (8, 11, 12, 12) // Anderson (3, 6, 2, 11) // Marshall (6, 3, 5, 3)
- aDOT: Moore (10.2) // Anderson (15.3) // Marshall (6.4)
- PHI is facing the 5th lowest defensive aDOT and has allowed the 6th fewest completed air yds
- With Moore dominating targets, he has produced 80, 79, 126, 113 yds and scored 3 TDs
- Top WRs vs PHI: Ridley (5:51) // Deebo (6:93) // Lamb (3:66), Cooper (3:26) // Hill (11:186:3)
- Robby & Marshall have topped out at 12.7 & 8.8 DK pts respectively through four games
- Att & tg without CMC: Hubbard (24, 2) // Freeman (8, 1) // Rodney Smith (0, 5)
- PHI ranks 28th in defensive rush DVOA
- Backfields rushing vs PHI: ATL (126) // SF (89) // DAL (155) // KC (149)
- Backfields receiving vs PHI: ATL (54) // SF (47) // DAL (26) // KC (28)
- Hubbard has turned his 24 att into 109 yds since CMC went down
- Only one of four QBs vs CAR has even topped 200 pass yds
- Hurts has four 300 pass yd games in 7 full games
- Hurts passing in 2021: 264:3 // 190:0 // 326:2:2 // 387:2
- QB rushing vs CAR: Jameis (3:19:1), Taysom (2:16) // Dak (4:35)
- Hurts rushing in six starts: 18:106 // 11:63:1 // 9:69 // 8:34:2 // 7:62 // 10:82:1 // 9:35 // 8:47
- CAR has the highest pressure rate in the NFL through four weeks per PFR
- Team’s top WRs vs CAR: Davis (5:97:2) // Callaway (2:8) // Cooks (9:112) // Cooper (3:69:1), Lamb (2:13)
- Devonta Smith has 8, 7, 6, & 10 targets
- Smith’s career start: 6:71:1 // 2:16 // 3:28 // 7:122
- Smith has the 11th highest aDOT in the NFL
- CAR has allowed the 3rd fewest YAC
- Smith has averaged 1.1 YAC above expectation
- TE targets: Goedert (5, 2, 4, 5) // Ertz (2, 2, 7, 8)
- TE yards: Goedert (42:1, 24, 66, 56:1) // Ertz (34, 6, 53:1, 60)
- TEs vs CAR: NYJ (6:48) // NOR (1:23) // HOU (4:32) // DAL (7:76:2)
- PHI RB att: Sanders (15, 13, 2, 7) // Gainwell (9, 6, 1, 3)
- PHI RB tg: Sanders (5, 2, 4, 3) // Gainwell (3, 3, 4, 8)
- Total yds: Sanders (113 / 59 / 55 / 47) // Gainwell (43 / 32 / 34 / 89)
- Top RB yds vs CAR: Ty Johnson (26) // Kamara (30) // Ingram (20) // Zeke (143), Pollard (67)
- CAR ranks 8th in defensive rush DVOA and has allowed the 4th fewest RB DK pts
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