FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 8 Thursday Night

We have arrived at Week 8 of the NFL season. After last week's NFC East batte, we head down to North Carolina for an NFC South showdown between the Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. Despite averaging over 26 points per game, the Falcons are in the basement of the division at 1-6, with three of those losses by a combined six points. Tonight, they are 2.5-point road underdogs with a game total of 51.5 points on FanDuel Sportsbook.

If you are new to the single-game slate, here is a brief rundown. The salary cap remains at $60,000 and scoring is unchanged from the full roster game, but we don't have to worry about individual positions. Instead, single-game slates feature five flex spots. Kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.

This past offseason our Brandon Gdula did a deep dive on single-game strategy. If you need help with lineup construction, give our Sharpstack optimizer a try.

Let's break down this slate!

MVP Candidates

Christian McCaffrey ($16,500) / Mike Davis ($15,000): This is more of a public service announcement than the usual in-depth review. As of this writing, McCaffrey has been designated to return from injured reserve and has not been ruled out for this game. However, Mike Davis could still retain a role based on his play during McCaffrey's absence. Our projections mirror the ambiguity, with McCaffrey at 12.1 and Davis at 10.1 FanDuel points. Watch the news this afternoon before making a decision on using either of the Carolina backs, but the latest suggests that McCaffrey will not play.

Matt Ryan ($14,500): Ryan was held to his lowest fantasy output (7.94 FanDuel points) against the Panthers earlier this season. However, Julio Jones ($13,000) did miss that game due to injury, allowing Calvin Ridley ($14,000) to get free for 136 yards on eight receptions. Jones is now healthy and does not carry an injury designation for tonight's game, which should lift Ryan and the Falcons' offense. Without him, Ryan has failed to hit 300 passing yards in a game and had just one touchdown during that stretch.

Carolina's Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play ranks 10th. It's not a great matchup for Ryan, but the Falcons will need him and his complement of receivers to have a chance of winning. A positive for us in using the Falcons' quarterback is their pace of play. In neutral situations, within seven points, they rank fifth in pace. Ryan's projection of 18.5 FanDuel points trails only Bridgewater.

Todd Gurley ($12,000): Gurley's second touchdown against the Detroit Lions Sunday gave Matthew Stafford plenty of time to engineer a game-winning drive, adding yet another heartbreaking loss for the Falcons. On purpose or not, the touchdown still counts for fantasy and his 21.2 FanDuel points marked his second-best game of the season. Against the Panthers back in Week 5, Gurley ran for 121 yards on just 14 carries, including a 35-yard touchdown on his way to 23 FanDuel points. Atlanta's offensive line ranks just 18th in adjusted line yards, per Football Outsiders. The Panthers' defensive line comes in 21st against the run overall but are 29th in open field yards (10-plus yards beyond line of scrimmage), which highlights Gurley's 35-yard touchdown from Week 5 even more.

Teddy Bridgewater ($13,500): Bridgewater was able to keep the Panthers close against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, completing 23 of 28 passes for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns on his way to 19.16 FanDuel points in a 27-24 loss. He gets an ideal matchup at home versus a Falcons pass defense that has been unable to stop anyone this season. They rank last in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and allow over 28 FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks. It's no surprise Bridgewater tops our projections for the night at 20 FanDuel points and hit that mark in their previous meeting on October 11th.

Value Plays

Robby Anderson ($10,000): If Bridgewater is the play for MVP, who should you stack him with? It's hard to go wrong with either Anderson, D.J. Moore ($11,000), or both. The duo racked up 15.5 and 17.3 FanDuel points last time against the Falcons. Combined, they have 111 targets on the season and nearly identical air yards (609 to 627). Anderson's lone touchdown came in Week 1, meaning he's due for some positive regression and could get it tonight. From a pure points perspective, their projections are 13.4 and 13.6, with Anderson being $1,000 cheaper, making him a slightly better value.

Hayden Hurst ($9,500): The Panthers' defense does have it holes, especially against opposing running backs. One area where they have excelled is shutting down opposing tight ends, allowing just a 50 percent Target Success Rate to the position. So why does Hurst make the list for our player pool tonight? Volume. He saw six targets last time out against Carolina and has back-to-back games with over 50 receiving yards, totaling 11 targets combined. His 15 percent target share on the year puts him in the same range as Mike Gesicki and T.J. Hockenson.

Curtis Samuel ($8,000): I would love to put Ian Thomas ($5,500) in here given how bad Atlanta has been against tight ends, allowing 17 FanDuel points per game to the position. However, Thomas hasn't eclipsed more than two receptions in any game this season, meaning we have to go up to Samuel for a better range of outcomes. Against the Saints, Samuel caught all 6 of his targets for 48 yards and scored his first touchdown of the year on a 5-yard run for 14.3 FanDuel points. Like Hurst, he also has 11 targets over his last two games played and depending on the availability of Carolina's running backs, could see a few touches in the backfield.

Ryan Bobbitt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan Bobbitt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Drummerinabox. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.