Week 9 Game Hub: NE-Car

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Week 9 Game Hub: NE-Car

New England Patriots (4-4, 4-4 ATS) at Carolina Panthers (4-4, 4-4), 1 p.m.

Brolley’s Patriots Stats and Trends

  • New England is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games as a favorite.

  • The Patriots have played over the total in four straight games thanks to scoring 25+ points in every game while averaging 33.8 points per game.

  • Damien Harris has become the identity of the offense with 14+ carries and rushing TDs in four straight games. He’s still hovering around 50% of the snaps most weeks, and he’s bringing nothing to the table as a receiver with just 3/14 receiving on four targets in the last four weeks. Carolina is giving up the second-fewest FPG (17.1) to the position, but backs are averaging a solid 4.4 YPC against them.

  • Mac Jones had his first 300-yard game in Week 7, but he came back to earth in a victory over the Chargers in Week 8, completing 18/35 passes (a season-low 51.4%) for 218 scoreless yards (6.3 YPA) for 11.7 FP. The Panthers are giving up the second-fewest passing yards per game (205.6) to QBs, and they’ve limited Matt Ryan (146/1 passing) and Daniel Jones (203/1) in the last two weeks.

  • Jakobi Meyers continues to be the most vanilla WR option despite averaging 8.5 targets and 5.6 catches per game. He’s still yet to score in 37 career games, and he’s topped out at 56 yards in a game in the last four weeks. The Panthers are giving up the 11th-fewest catches per game (12.1) to WRs this season.

  • Hunter Henry’s four-game streak with touchdowns and 10+ FP came to an end against his old team last week. He finished with just a 33-yard catch on three targets, but he still ran more routes than Jonnu Smith (26 to 17), who finished with 2/13 receiving. The Panthers limited Kyle Pitts to 2/13 receiving on six targets last week, and they’ve allowed more than 11+ FP just once to Dalton Schultz in Week 4.

Brolley’s Panthers Stats and Trends

  • The Panthers snapped a four-game outright and ATS losing streak last week.

  • Carolina is 4-1 toward unders in its last five home games.

  • Christian McCaffrey has a chance to finally return from his hamstring injury, which he suffered early in Week 3. CMC posted 324 scrimmage yards with 14 catches and one touchdown in his first two games. If he’s not ready to play, Chuba Hubbard would fill in again after posting 24/82/1 rushing. He hasn’t averaged more than 3.8 YPC in each of his last three games. The Patriots gave up 14/143/1 rushing to Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson last week, and Ekeler added 6/60 receiving.

  • Sam Darnold hasn’t averaged more than 5.4 YPA in each of his last four games. He completed 13/24 passes for 129 scoreless yards (5.4 YPA) and he added 8/66 rushing against the Falcons, and he left midway through the fourth quarter with a concussion after taking a big hit on a scramble near the goal line. P.J. Walker would get the start if Darnold is unable to play, and he posted 258/1 passing with negative rushing production in his lone start for the Panthers last season. The Patriots limited Justin Herbert to 223/2 passing while completing 51.4% of attempts last week.

  • D.J. Moore has been crushed by Darnold’s play in the last month as he hasn’t reached 14+ FP in four straight games after posting 15+ FP in each of his first four contests. He’s still the clear top option in this passing attack with 10.1 targets per game, and Robby Anderson saw just one on 26 routes last week. The Patriots are giving up the 16th-most FPG (36.8) to WRs this season.

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies

Patriots

Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.5 (22nd)

Plays per game: 67.1 (20th)

Pass: 61.0% (14th) | Run: 39.0% (19th)

Panthers

Pace: 28.4 (20th)

Plays per game: 72.8 (3rd)

Pass: 59.3% (20th) | Run: 40.7% (13th)

Pace Points

This is the fourth-worst matchup on the Week 9 slate in the pace / play model, which is saying something considering that there are a lot of fairly unattractive games on this slate. Just two games (Titans-Rams and Chargers-Eagles) have game totals sitting at 50 or more points.

Simply put: The Panthers offense has collapsed as Sam Darnold keeps regressing and without Christian McCaffrey over the last month. In their last four games, Carolina has scored a TD on just 4-of-51 drives (7.8%) – which is the worst scoring rate in this span. Meanwhile, 23-of-51 drives (45.1%) have ended in a punt in their last four games. That’s not the ratio you’re looking for.

On the other hand, the Patriots are quietly moving the ball well. 46.5% of their drives have ended in a score (FG or TD) which trails only the Bills, Rams, Cowboys, and Cardinals for the best clip in the league. That’s not too bad of company! As road favorites over a Panthers team that may be without Darnold and CMC here, I’m expecting another slow-paced, run-heavy game-plan from the Patriots. Outside of two games against the league’s best run defenses (Saints and Buccaneers) in Weeks 3-4, Damien Harris is averaging 18 carries and 84.5 rushing yards per game.

Huber’s Key Matchup Notes

NOTE: Each week, Huber’s Key Matchup Notes in the Fantasy Points Game Hubs are little snippets from Wes Huber’s industry-best, comprehensive Advanced Matchups bible. A DFS-slanted article typically available to only our Premium Subscribers, we are making this week’s edition FREE to coincide with our midseason price drop, with rates reduced by 50%. There is still plenty of time to get on board!

With Carolina featuring the ninth-highest rate of Cover 1, I kicked the temptation of listing Mac Jones as a Target around the brain. On 29% of his rookie dropbacks, “The Joker” has thrown for 44% of his TDs. And, if his rookie numbers qualified, Jones would rank 16th-best with 0.40 FP/Db. But the Panthers are getting healthy at the wrong time for my taste. The return of Shaq Thompson and getting Stephon Gilmore on the field do not instill confidence.

I’ll state it again: the Pats need to evaluate whether N’Keal Harry is going to be a part of their future plans. The only way they will uncover that truth is allowing him to play featured snaps with Jones. Kendrick Bourne has proved his worth. His role on the team and immediate playing time is secure. But Nelson Agholor has returned sub-replacement value in return for his 256 passing routes. Harry needs to be featured over Agholor.

The Panthers received some outstanding news for their offense, Terrace Marshall Jr. appears set to return to the field. What the ‘21 second-rounder lacks in experience is more than made up for in 90th-percentile athleticism. If he can provide a spark… actually, if Marshall can simply catch the catchable balls, he’ll be light years better than the fodder they are currently featuring.

Dolan’s Vantage Points

The Patriots did a hell of a job beating the Chargers last week, with coach Bill Belichick exploiting weaknesses in the Chargers’ offensive line with exotic pressure concepts. That’s likely bad news for the Panthers this week, as Carolina ranks 8th-worst in the NFL in FootballOutsiders adjusted sack rate, a measurement of pass protection efficiency.

That’s not good news for Sam Darnold — presuming Darnold can clear concussion protocol. And if Darnold can clear, still the only pass catcher we can trust from Carolina is DJ Moore.

Still, Darnold’s play has cratered, and that’s affecting Moore’s numbers. Here’s Graham from the Week 9 Stat-Pack:

  • DJ Moore’s first four games: 30/398/3 (WR4 | 22.4 FPG)

  • His last four games: 20/247/0 (WR47 | 11.0 FPG)

  • The good news is that Moore’s target share has remained strong… He got 29.5% of the Panthers targets in Weeks 1-4 and his TS is 27.3% in Weeks 5-8.

  • The bad news is that Moore’s drop-off is directly tied to Sam Darnold’s declining play…

  • In Weeks 1-4, 84% of Moore’s targets were catchable – which was the 14th-highest rate among WRs.

  • In Weeks 5-8, Moore’s catchable targets dropped to 75% – which ranks 45th-of-64 WRs.

  • Just five of Moore’s 11 targets of 15+ air yards have been catchable over the last four games.

And Belichick knows how dangerous DJM is… so I expect there to be added focus on him.

Panthers WR Robby Anderson is coming off his best game of the year… and by that I mean he had the least amount of negative impact for the Panthers, by seeing just 1 target that he didn’t catch. Still, Belichick finds him a dangerous player!

If you have Anderson in a fantasy lineup, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m actually interested to see what rookie Terrace Marshall looks like in his return from a concussion… especially since the Pats’ primary slot CB, Jonathan Jones, is out for the season.

Anyway, RB Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) could be back this week. If he is, he’s a must-start. But our Dr. Edwin Porras thinks the Panthers should reduce his titanic workload to try to keep him healthy, and the Panthers’ beats have been asking coaches — including OC Joe Brady — about just that.

Still, others aren’t buying that the Panthers will just give CMC his massive role back… at all. That doesn’t mean he won’t be an elite fantasy option, but it’s possible he does cede some work to Chuba Hubbard. HC Matt Rhule doesn’t seem to be in agreement with his OC.

The Panthers have perhaps the league’s most underrated defense, and our Scott Barrett thinks that’s bad news for slot WR Jakobi Meyers of the Patriots. From Start/Sit:

“Meyers is a massive regression candidate, falling 2.4 touchdowns (2nd-most) and 30.6 fantasy points short (2nd-most) of his volume-based expectation. His volume has been excellent, but the production hasn’t quite been there. He ranks 20th in targets per game (8.9), 25th in XFP per game (14.8), but just 50th in FPG (11.0).

If he were perfectly average in touchdown luck, rather than nearly worst in the league, he’d rank 36th in FPG (12.8). (Note: I say “unlucky” rather than “inefficient” for a reason, explained here. Essentially, touchdown efficiency is far more driven by “luck” than skill.) But, even then… Even if we spot him those missing touchdowns, there’s still another 2.0 FPG missing from his XFP per game average. So what’s going on?

Meyers averages just 9.0 FPG over his last four games, though he averaged 16.7 in the two games immediately prior to this down-stretch, and I think schedule-variance is mostly to blame. This week’s game against Carolina will mark his fifth straight game against a team ranking top-10 in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs. And the Panthers actually rank 2nd-best. His opponent last week (the Chargers) ranks best in the league, and he scored only 7.7 fantasy points on 9 targets. So, he’s a “sit” again this week, ranked as just a fringe-WR3. And although a heavy regression to the mean is coming, it won’t be coming this week.”

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