TNF: Fantasy Preview

Thursday Night Football: Carolina Panthers (6-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1)

What to Watch For:

Thank you, NFL, for redeeming yourself after that pathetic TNF matchup you provided us with last week. Nick Mullens was a great story, but the game itself was miserable to watch. This week, we get a game with two of the NFL’s best. The Panthers, 2nd in their division behind the streaking Saints, and the Steelers who are at the top of their division.

The Steelers have seemingly forgot about Le’Veon Bell, thanks to James Conner. I think Bell realized this as well as he sent out another cryptic tweet this week leading people to believe he may be reporting to the Steelers. He didn’t, and he likely did it because he noticed the lack of continued coverage on his holdout. The players that actually are playing, however, are playing very well. Antonio Brown has caught a touchdown pass in six straight games. James Conner has been one of the most productive running backs in the NFL, even sneaking into some MVP conversations around the league.

They’ll have their hands full with a Panthers’ team tonight that is rolling. Cam Newton is playing as well as he did in his MVP 2015 season and the defense has stepped it up over the past couple weeks. This could be a season-defining type of win for Carolina and it will be probably be on the shoulders of Newton to get it done. The Steelers have been stout against the run this season, and stopping Christian McCaffrey will undoubtedly be a top priority for them tonight.

Prediction: Steelers win 27-24.

Fantasy Studs:

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

With all the attention likely focused on both Antonio Brown and James Conner, this is a perfect opportunity for Smith-Schuster to shine. He’s been struggling to provide substantial fantasy value of late, going three games without a touchdown. But I expect that to change tonight, he should have a lot of room to roam the secondary opposite Brown and expect the play-action to provide a couple of big-play opportunities for JuJu.

TE Greg Olsen

Olsen has been one of the most productive tight ends in the league since returning from injury. After missing three games, he has since averaged 12.5 fantasy points per game in the four and 17.0 fantasy points per game in the last two. Pittsburgh has been good defensively against all opposing position groups, except tight end. They rank 28th in the NFL, allowing 10.3 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

Fantasy Duds:

Carolina & Pittsburgh D/ST

After pondering over this for hours, and all the research I’ve done, I came up with no players that I think will be fantasy duds tonight. Unless you’re looking at guys that don’t present any fantasy value in the first place, which wouldn’t be a “dud” anyway, there’s no offensive player that I believe will have a bad game. So that leaves me with both defensive units as my duds for the game. I think this will be a productive offensive game on both sides, with both teams moving the ball up and down the field smoothly. The result may come down to a late turnover, but there will be enough points and yards allowed that a turnover won’t make a difference for your fantasy defense.

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