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NFL Matchups: Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals Fantasy Football Preview




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This a snippet of Adam Pfeifer’s NFL matchups column, previews the Carolina Panthers vs Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals for Fantasy Football Lineups. Fantasy rosters needed protective spray because players were bit hard by the injury bug in Week 2. Multiple starting quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers all suffered injuries this past weekend, with a handful of key offensive linemen also going down. As a result, we missed on plenty in this article, but we hit on plenty, as well. Back on the horse. With that in mind, let’s dig into some NFL matchups and NFL game breakdowns for your Week 3 Fantasy Football Lineups.

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Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals

Total: 46.5


Panthers passing game

It is looking more and more like Cam Newton will not be under center for the Panthers this week. He aggravated his foot sprain on Thursday night and has been seen in a walking boot. Newton hasn’t practiced yet this week and looks to be very questionable to suit up here. Assuming that is the case, Kyle Allen will start, adding to the week of backup quarterbacks. While many people may view this as a massive downgrade, Newton hasn’t exactly looked fantastic through two weeks. His accuracy has been awful, sporting a 65.8 percent adjusted completion percentage, the third-lowest mark in the league. If Cam plays, I would have been intrigued due to the matchup but he hasn’t been running, which tells me the foot is a serious problem. I truly believe he is going to miss this game, which means Allen could be worth a look as a DFS punt against an Arizona defense that has been bottom-five in the league in terms of fantasy points to quarterbacks.

The matchup for the Carolina pass-catchers if fantastic. As we expected, Arizona is playing fast, averaging 22.2 seconds per play this season, the second-fastest pace in football. First place? The Panthers at 22.02 seconds per play. We could see a lot of possessions in this game, which is obviously fantastic for fantasy purposes. D.J. Moore has seen double-digit targets in each of the first two games, hauling in 16 of 24 targets for 165 yards. Despite the Curtis Samuel offseason hype, Moore remains the WR1 on this team and gets to face this Arizona secondary that hasn’t been able to cover anyone this year. They are really missing Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford, both of who will not be back for this game. Arizona has been lit up by the likes of Golladay, Amendola and Hollywood Brown over the first two weeks and Moore continues to see consistent targets. Regardless of who is under center for Carolina, Moore is a top-25 wide receiver for me.

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Samuel had a solid game on Thursday night, hauling in four balls for 82 yards. Of course, Cam’s accuracy issues limited him to just four catches on 12 targets. Samuel has the same great matchup as Moore and if Allen is more accurate than Cam (which shouldn’t be hard), Samuel will be much more efficient than he was in Week 2. With this game likely playing fast, Samuel is a borderline top-30 wideout for me this week, regardless of who is under center.

Finally, Greg Olsen is coming off a 110-yard outing and while he may not look fantastic, he’s been productive. He’s seen nine targets in each of the first two games and perhaps Allen leans on the veteran tight end here. The matchup is elite, as the Cardinals have not been able to cover tight ends. Through two weeks, this is what they have surrendered to the tight end position:

T.J. Hockenson (6-131-1)

Mark Andrews (8-112-1)

Hayden Hurst( 1-1-1)

That has translated to over 26 fantasy points per game to the position, easily the most in the NFL. Tight ends are averaging 11.5 targets per game against the Cardinals, while also leads the league. If I’m not spending all the way up or punting at tight end this week, Olsen or Hooper are likely where I’m going. The matchup is literally as good as it gets.

Panthers running game

The usage of Christian McCaffrey last week was puzzling. With a hobbling, inefficient quarterback, how do you only target arguably the best pass-catching back in the league six times? It was one of the worst fantasy performances we’ve ever seen from McCaffrey but I’m expecting a bounce back here. For starters, he is just $8,700 on DK, a steal of a price tag. Look for Carolina to give McCaffrey the ball 25 times in this game and get him back to that 7-10 catch range. The Cardinals were atrocious against the run last year, though they haven’t looked too bad through two weeks this season. Still, McCaffrey is easy to get to this week and, per usual, an elite play.

Cardinals passing game

I have a lot of interest in Kyler Murray this week. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in each game, while the Cardinals are playing fast and throwing the football a lot. Murray didn’t play badly at all last week, passing for 349 yards and completing nearly 63 percent of his passes against the Ravens, but Arizona’s red zone play-calling was really bad. He also just missed on a touchdown pass. That said, I’m expecting a strong game here. Again, the pace of play will be advantageous and while the matchup isn’t fantastic, there is obviously huge upside here. Murray has yet to show what he can do as a runner yet and I truly believe that is coming. Murray could go overlooked this week because people don’t realize how fast the Panthers have been playing.

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Arizona has been chasing points in each of the first two games, which could change at home against a backup quarterback. But given how bad this defense has been playing, Murray should continue to have to put points on the board. Murray’s average depth of target of 9.6 is eighth-best in the NFL.

Once again, people overlooked Larry Fitzgerald in fantasy drafts. And once again, Fitzgerald proves that he is inevitable. The surefire Hall of Fame wideout has gone over 100 yards in the first two games of the year for the first time in his career. He’s seen 24 targets through two weeks and is averaging an awesome 16.7 yards per catch. Fitzgerald is sixth in the NFL in air yards (273), giving him solid weekly upside in this offense.

If you look at the leaders in routes run this season, Fitzgerald is first with 98, while Damiere Byrd and Christian Kirk are second and fourth (94 and 93). That is because the Cardinals are running four-wide sets way more than any team in all of football. This helps both Fitzgerald and Kirk to play in the slot, as they are lining up there 93.9 and 84.9 percent of the time this season. Both remain too cheap this weekend and should be viewed as high-upside and high-floor receivers in most matchups going forward.

If you are looking for a cheap wide receiver, don’t overlook Byrd. Like I said, only Fitzgerald has run more routes than him, who will play almost every snap with Arizona running so many four-wide sets. Despite seeing seven targets in both games, Byrd is minimum salary on DraftKings and makes for a viable GPP pivot from someone like Agholor in that price range.

Cardinals running game

David Johnson left Sunday’s game for a couple of drives with a wrist injury but returned to the game and scored a one-yard touchdown. He said he’s good to go for Week 3 and is someone that you aren’t sitting. Arizona has gone pass-heavy, which has kept Johnson from reaching the 20-carry mark but he’ll remain involved in the passing game. I like how the Cardinals offense is spread out from inside the five-yard line but it would be nice to see them give it to DJ more there. $6,800 is a very nice price tag and we just saw Peyton Barber run for 82 yards and a touchdown against this Panthers defense last week. DJ is an intriguing GPP play this weekend.

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