NFL DFS is back on Thursday and I know it was just a two-day wait, but man did that go by fast. We actually get a good one on Thursday Night Football, too, as the Carolina Panthers hit up Heinz Field to battle the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This truly may be one of the best TNF games I’ve ever seen. The Rams and Vikings waged war in a 38-31 shootout earlier this year, but that’s the only game in recent memory that seems to be on par with this one. I am expecting something similar and Vegas agrees with the Steelers coming in as mild -4 home favorites in a game that features an explosive 51 Total at Sportsbetting.ag.
Our own Kyle E. loves the Panthers to beat the spread tonight and I’m right there with him. I also think we’re headed for the Over, which means you’ll want as many studs from this game as you can get your hands on.
Let’s dive into my favorite NFL DFS picks for Thursday night at FanDuel:
MVP (1.5x points): James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($16k)
The Panthers are actually really good against the run, but they’ll be on the road and will face a Steelers team that can win in the trenches. I am favoring the Steelers o-line and Conner here, as Le’Veon Bell’s understudy has put up 25+ fantasy points in each of his last four games and has topped 100+ yards rushing during that stretch as well.
Pittsburgh is favored and should control this game, which should lead to plenty of touches. Conner doesn’t even need a monster yardage day to pop off for you, either, as he’s punched in seven total scores over his last four games. He will be chalky, but he’s the best overall play on the board.
FLEX: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($15.5k)
Big Ben continues to be good at home, but he’s just been solid in general with multiple scores in five of his last seven games. James Conner is the better play if you’re picking between the two, but if you’re thinking of paying for Antonio Brown or JuJu Smith-Schuster, use Big Ben instead.
Roethlisberger keeps putting up numbers and the Panthers (21st) have not done a great job stopping fantasy passers. Ryan Fitzpatrick just dropped four touchdowns on them, so that’s about all you need to know.
I don’t know if Big Ben drops four scores, but FanDuel devalues wide receivers (0.5 PPR) and any Steelers receivers will need a good game out of Ben to thrive. Just use Roethlisberger tonight.
FLEX: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers ($16.5k)
You can’t roster everyone, so I’m choosing to stack my favorite three options in Conner/Ben/Cam. I’m also looking at Christian McCaffrey, JuJu and Antonio like everyone else, but these are the three best options. Paying for these guys over those other options is the way to go tonight in my opinion.
For one, the Steelers stop the run well just like the Panthers. McCaffrey is more of a PPR threat and I’m not sure he’s going to be as reliable near the goal-line as Conner will be. Conner is the easy call between the two, even though McCaffrey saves you $1.5k in cash. I also don’t feel amazing about Pittsburgh wide receivers, as the Panthers have done a good job on the outside.
The slot and tight ends are where you’d want to attack them, theoretically. More on that in a bit.
That third guy is going to be Cam. If the Panthers stay in this or even win it, he’s going to have a lot to do with it. I don’t need to waste time wondering which of his weapons will catch passes or find the end-zone. I’ll just roster him and hope others get scared off of the price tag.
The Steelers rank just 28th against fantasy quarterbacks and Cam has 21+ fantasy points in each of his last four games. After McCaffrey saw more work than usual in week nine, look for Newton to be much more involved and lead the way for Carolina when it comes to NFL DFS production.
FLEX: Ryan Switzer, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6k)
The downside of stacking the three top DFS picks for this game is you won’t have much cash to play around elsewhere. You can try taking a big dive with a guy in the $5k range, but nobody there stands out to me. They’re all guys who never play or might see the field for 10 or fewer snaps.
That could very well be the case with Switzer, but he’s popped up a few times for Pittsburgh and did see four targets (three receptions) against Baltimore last week. Adam Humphries torched the Panthers on the inside last week (8 catches, 2 TDs) and while that’s probably going to help Antonio Brown, I think a cheap Switzer is worth a roll of the dice here.
Switzer is a shifty guy who can get open and if looked to enough, could do enough to make stacking three studs the right call. Let’s not forget he did have a seven-catch game earlier this year and would probably pay off if he found a way to score.
FLEX: James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6k)
Ditto for Washington. He’s another cheap Steelers option and if the Panthers duplicate their outside success that we saw in week nine, it wouldn’t be that crazy to imagine Pittsburgh’s top receivers struggling a bit and guys like Switzer, Washington and Pittsburgh’s tight ends (both very viable this week) standing out.
Washington saw five targets last week and has deep speed. He’d only need one long touchdown to pay off and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got it.
I’m leaning on the Steelers as favorites and this 51 Total popping off. More than anything, I’m loading up on my three favorite studs and hoping week nine repeats itself a bit. If Switzer and Washington can get the same involvement and just find a way to add on a score, we could be looking at a gem here.
I also don’t hate McCaffrey, JuJu, Brown or Greg Olsen and I also value the Steelers’ tight ends. I just realize you can’t roster everyone and stacking the best plays (again, in my opinion) is the way to go tonight.
Whether you agree with me or not, this projects as a fun one. Good luck with your roster building process and enjoy the game!