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This is how far the Falcons have fallen…
Atlanta took a 10-0 lead on Carolina right away in this game. They were the more enthusiastic and dominant team from the jump. I thought a blowout might be coming. The next thing you know, Carolina, a team not known for its ability to pump offense/play from behind, pulls back into control 20-10…eventually holding off Atlanta for a 20-17 win.
Even spotted a 10-0 lead in a must-win game the Falcons cannot win…allowing a wobbly offense to get right back into a game and take over. It was nothing fancy, just Carolina chopping away and Atlanta not really doing anything about it.
This was the lynchpin game for the Falcons season because the schedule is unkind ahead. They had to have this game to have wild-card hopes. This loss about kills them off. They could get lucky with a win hosting potentially, heavily-injured Dallas Week 10…but a loss to Dallas would all but end the season. The Computer projects a loss to Dallas and a 7-9 finish. No real path to 9-7.
It was similarly a lynchpin game for the Panthers. This win and schedule ahead almost assures them of a playoff spot. It’s not a guarantee because Carolina is so fickle but a 10-6 finish is what The Computer sees, give or take a game either way.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Players affected by ‘no’ Kelvin Benjamin on the Panthers anymore…
Christian McCaffery (15-66-1, 5-28-0/6) got a season-high for carries and rushing yards and rushed for his first TD…while still grabbing his usual 5 passes. You have to assume ‘stock, up’ on McCaffrey post-KB on the rising touch counts. McCaffrey played 53 snaps and Jonathan Stewart played 20.
The most snaps at WR for Carolina in this game? Curtis Samuel (3-23-0/5), 1-14-0) with 49, one more than Devin Funchess (5-86-0/7). It was a season-high 5 targets for Samuel.
Samuel looks pretty good on the tape. He’s growing in confidence and we see more trust coming from Cam. What we haven’t seen with Samuel yet – a real ‘pop’ or ‘wow’ play. A 4.31 runner has not given one ‘wow’ moment yet. I think it’s coming.
Devin Funchess is the new #1 WR, and he looks fine. I’m not a huge fan but I know he’ll now get 7+ targets a game without fail…so that matters for FF. To me, Funchess still struggles when covered and getting away from coverage but he’s a nice big target otherwise. I don't see much of a difference between him and Benjamin.
-- Benjamin on the team or not, Cam Newton (13-24 for 137 yards, 0 TD/0 INT, 9-86-1) keeps amping up his rushing attempts and output. 10.0 carries for 62.8 yards and 0.50 rushing TDs per game over his past four games.
I give Cam credit. I thought he would have folded, reeled in his running after the injury last year and all the money he makes…but he’s out there like an RB every few plays – running on purpose, with a purpose to move the offense. 4+ FF points passing, 14.6 rushing in this game.
-- The Falcons could use Cam for their running game…
Utterly dull, wildly overpaid Devonta Freeman (11-46-9, 4-18-0/5) had another utterly dull game while Mr. Excitement, Tevin Coleman (5-5-0, 1-19-1/3) sat and watched most of the game…but did make some magic on a screen pass and run for a score on the only catch he had in the game.
I’m tired of complaining about this, how Coleman should be the feature or even split but Atlanta moves further and further away from him. Hey! It’s working…lost 4 of their last 5 games.
Freeman hasn’t scored a TD in 4 games and has only rushed for over 85 yards in a game once this season.
Freeman has only rushed for 100+ yards twice in his last 24 games (including playoffs).
Possible balky knee for Freeman could give TC a window this week…probably not…
If Freeman was ruled out today…how excited would you be owning Coleman? How high would he push in the rankings? RB1, bay-bay! Don’t get me started.
-- Julio Jones (6-118-0/12) looked like he was ‘woke’ early on in this game. Looked like he might have one of those monster 200+ yard games…and then he must have remembered it was his usual Sunday afternoon naptime and he had a quiet 2nd-half and dropped a sure 50+ yard TD in the end zone.
He’s a real peach…
#18 in nonPPR PPG among WRs, #14 in PPR YTD.
Snap Counts of Interest…
49 = Samuel
48 = Funchess
38 = Shepard
53 = McCaffrey
20 = Stewart
41 = Freeman
14 = Coleman