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The bye-weeks started last week and are making an impact on lineups. Between the bye weeks and the injuries that are piling up, it’s imperative for fantasy owners to make smart roster decisions. Leaving points on the bench doesn’t help anyone, except a smarter opponent. Let’s break down the Thursday night game and determine who starts and who sits to put fantasy teams in the best position to put points on the board.

Fantasy Focus Week Six Thursday Night Football: Philadelphia Eagles – Carolina Panthers

Philadelphia Eagles (4-1)

Carson Wentz – Quarterback

Second year signal caller Carson Wentz has seemingly improved on all the things that made him an exciting rookie to watch last season. He is going through his progressions, picking apart the defenses, and making the most of his throws when it counts. He has thrown for over 300 yards in three of five games this season.

In week five he threw for four touchdowns and one interception, his first game throwing for more than two touchdowns. Facing a solid Carolina Panthers defense will be a test for the young quarterback.

Wentz has almost put himself in the every-week-starter category for fantasy football. His accuracy has ranged from 54.3% completion percentage, all the way up to 70% completion percentage. In a tougher match up, he’s still a starter. He’s faced some tough defenses and for most part walked away with a decent fantasy line. In a game that has potential to be a high scoring affair, he’s a start for this week.

LeGarrette Blount – Running Back

Entering the season many analysts were off of the LeGarrette Blount train. His success last season seemed to be tied to the New England Patriots offensive scheme. He had a poor outing week one against the Washington Redskins where posted 46 yards on 14 attempts. Week two he had zero rushing attempts and one target, which he didn’t catch. Since then, he has been a serviceable running back in this offense. The Eagles run defense has been third best so far this season, only allowing an average of 62 yards per game.

Blount is a risky start against a stout run defense. He offers no PPR value, and is touchdown dependent. His value is more determined by needs for bye-week or injury, otherwise he’s probably best left on the fantasy bench. 

Wendell Smallwood – Running Back

Wendell Smallwood has not practiced and is not expected to play Thursday night. Check inactives, but make other plans.

Corey Clement – Running Back

Corey Clement has done very little thus far with what he’s been given. He’s managed just 69 yards on 23 total attempts with his longest run being 15 yards. He is getting some touches with Smallwood being out, but hasn’t done much damage with them. Clement has been a non-factor in the passing game.

Outside of really deep leagues, Clement is a sit for this matchup.

Alshon Jeffery – Wide Receiver

Alshon Jeffery has had a brutal schedule up to this point. He has faced top coverage through the first five weeks against Casey Hayward, Janoris Jenkins, Marcus Peters, Josh Norman, and Patrick Peterson. Jeffery has managed to stay involved, but he has yet to truly impress with the Eagles. He has 38 total targets and is poised for a breakout game soon.

Jeffery is a solid starter as long as he’s healthy. He’s a start in both standard and PPR, but favored for PPR leagues.

Torrey Smith – Wide Receiver

Torrey Smith has been almost a non-factor until week five’s outing where he posted a 3/70/1 line. Of that 70 yards, 59 came on one pass that he took to the house. Otherwise, his stat-line would mirror the rest of his season so far.

Smith remains a low floor, low ceiling play reserved for truly deep leagues or a desperation start. He’s a sit this week.

Nelson Agholor – Wide Receiver

Nelson Agholor came into this season with hopes for more a breakout campaign. He’s flashed a few time this season and has three total touchdowns through the first five weeks. He seems to have a better chemistry with Wentz this season, and may be on his way to being the player the Eagles thought they were getting with his draft position.

Agholor has remained involved and may find himself in WR4/5 category with upside if he continues to remain a redzone target. He’s a flex play this week.

Zach Ertz – Tight End

The tight end position has been overall dreadful for the tight end position once out of the top three or players. Zach Ertz is in that top echelon so far. He’s caught 32 or 48 targets this season for a team-leading 387 yards. His two touchdowns help pad his stat-line.

Ertz is one of the top tight ends in the NFL this season for fantasy purposes. He’s an every week starter in all formats.

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton – Quarterback

There were a lot of questions about how quickly Cam Newton came back to the field after off-season shoulder surgery. After three poor performances to start the season, there was whispering in the rushes that perhaps he was still injured. Through the first three weeks he had only two touchdowns to four interceptions, including three interceptions in one game. That game was against the New Orleans Saints leaky defense. Since then Newton has played some of his best football as a pocket passer, going over 300 yards twice and throwing six touchdowns to only one interception.

It looks like Newton is back to form, and putting up some solid numbers from a quarterback not many people thought could excel as a pocket-passer. For owners who took the lump through the first three weeks, he’s a start in matchup against the Eagles beatable pass-defense.

Newton is a solid start this week.

Jonathan Stewart – Running Back

Jonathan Stewart has been nursing an ankle injury this week which has limited him in practice. Stewart has maintained the one-two down and goal line back responsibilities on this offense as he has seen double-digit carries in each game so far. While he has yet to have a 100 yard rushing game, owners have to appreciate the volume he’s received.

Christian McCaffery’s role seems to be increasing each week, but Stewart is still the lead back, for now. Stewart is volume and goal-line based start this week. His floor is safe, even in a mediocre matchup.

Christian McCaffery – Running Back

McCaffery has had a lot of hype surrounding his ability and what he could potentially bring to the Panthers offense. He’s shown flashes of brilliance for a rookie, but has yet to truly be the electric player so many people were hoping for.

McCaffery has carved out a solid role as the pass-catching/gadget back. While that has yet to materialize into every week fantasy value, he seems primed to bust out soon. McCaffery is a safe start as an RB2/Flex option in PPR formats, where he may fall to RB3 or flex only for standard scoring leagues. His value hasn’t sky-rocketed in DFS, so he remains a sneaky but slightly risky pick in that arena.

Kelvin Benjamin – Wide Receiver

Kelvin Benjamin hauled in his first touchdown of the season in week five. When targeted, he’s been a reliable weapon with big-play ability to stretch the field. He’s been targeted 25 times and reeled in 17 of those targets.

The Eagles pass-defense has allowed seven passing touchdowns so far and the third-most passing yards per game. Benjamin is in the WR2 conversation with touchdown upside this week. He should be started in a cream-puff matchup.

Devin Funchess – Wide Receiver

Devin Funchess has become the de-facto number two receiving option for Newton since the Greg Olsen injury. He has averaged nine targets-per-game in that span, putting him squarely in the WR3 conversation.

Funchess has been listed as questionable on the injury report, but is expected to be in the starting lineup for Thursday’s game. The three touchdowns over the last two weeks may not be sustainable but the target share is un-likely to decrease. Funchess is not a burner, but with the target volume, he’s a start in a plus matchup this week.

Ed Dickson – Tight End

Ed Dickson had a career game last week turning five targets into 175 yards. With the absence of Olsen, Dickson will be a part of the game plan. Three to five targets is probably a safe bet moving forward, but turning them into 175 yards is highly doubtful.

Dickson is only owned in 9% of Yahoo leagues, so he’s probably not on anyone’s starting lineup outside of injury or recency bias. He may be on the fringe-streamer list with his target share increasing lately. It’s worth noting that Dickson has primarily operated as a pass-blocking tight end. He’s a risky start moving forward.

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