NFL Grind Down: Week 10

Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the statistics, insights and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.

Every game will be broken down statistically, with several key elements highlighted in our charts. Vegas lines are broken down to show projected team totals, to give you an idea of who is favored to win, and often more importantly, how many points they’re expected to score. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow.

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Carolina Panthers Pittsburgh Steelers

Carolina Panthers

Notable injuries and suspensions: Smith (Out)

Quarterback: Things were looking dicey for the Cam Newton chalk last week as each of the Panthers’ first 3 touchdowns of the game were of the rushing variety. Cam eventually finished with 247 yards passing with 2 touchdown passes and no picks, so it wasn’t a complete disaster in the end. Newton has thrown at least 2 touchdown passes in all 8 games so far this season, and we know his rushing ability (he’s carried the ball at least 10 times in back-to-back weeks) helps give him a higher floor than some other QBs. The Steelers have been stingy against QBs of late, but they’re still just 22nd on the season in DVOA against the pass. He’s been limited in practice with a shoulder issue but all indications are that he’ll be good to go Thursday.

Running Backs: The Panthers scored 4 rushing touchdowns on the ground against the Buccaneers, 1 of which was a vulture job by Alex Armah, the other of which was an end-around to Curtis Samuel. The Armah TD was particularly tilting for Christian McCaffrey (and Newton) owners, but C-Mac still scored twice himself on 23 total touches. He logged a healthy 157 total yards from scrimmage, which is typically a formula for success for Carolina. McCaffrey’s high-usage role in the offense makes him a viable play just about every week. The Steelers haven’t been anything special against the run or the pass this season, so he’s obviously one of the better overall options in this game on either side.

Pass Catchers: D.J. Moore out-snapped Devin Funchess last week 53-45, but they’re clearly the primary receivers in this offense. Jarius Wright ranked a distant third in snaps among WRs with 22 against the Bucs last week. McCaffrey leads the team in targets, but Greg Olsen has been making his presence felt. Olsen has now scored in 3 straight games, and the Steelers have struggled to contain opposing tight ends this season. I think Olsen is your top pass catching target here not named McCaffrey, followed by Funchess and then Moore. I wouldn’t try to chase the big Curtis Samuel game from last week, as he was still only on the field for 27% of the team’s offensive snaps. Torrey Smith is out again, which makes Funchess and Moore a bit more appealing.

The Takeaway: Christian McCaffrey is your best option on the Carolina side, as usual, while Newton feels like the safer of the two QBs in this game given his rushing floor. I’m not all that enthralled with any of the pass catchers other than Greg Olsen, but I’ll give Devin Funchess the slight edge on D.J. Moore at a similar price point.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Notable injuries and suspensions: Roethlisberger (Probable), Switzer (Questionable)

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger has a fracture of a finger on his non-throwing hand, but that didn’t slow him down against the Ravens last week. Big Ben completed 28 of his 47 throws for 270 yards with 2 touchdowns in the victory. He’ll now face a Carolina defense that ranks 20th in the league in DVOA against the pass. He obviously doesn’t have the same rushing upside as his counterpart in this game, so I will give Cam the slight edge. That said, the Steelers are 4-point favorites in a game with one of the highest totals of the week, so Roethlisberger should be a fine enough play. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with either QB in this one, though.

Running Backs: James Conner has now topped 100 yards rushing in 4 consecutive games, and he’s scored at least twice in 3 of those games. He has clearly established himself as the go-to guy in the Steeler backfield with Le’Veon Bell still holding out. Conner’s workload is huge, which makes him an attractive option. He has carried the ball 19-plus times in 4 straight games while also racking up at least 6 targets in the passing game in 3 straight weeks. The Panthers have been solid against the run, but I still think you can roll Conner out there given his huge 2-way role in the offense.

Pass Catchers: Antonio Brown wasn’t particularly efficient last week as he was able to haul in just 5 of the 11 passes thrown his way. Still, he managed to find the end zone, while Conner accounted for the other Steeler receiving TD in the win over Baltimore. Conner and Juju-Smith Schuster each picked up 9 targets, while Vance McDonald had 6. Brown is a guy I will never talk you out of playing if you have the funds, while Smith-Schuster is always a viable pivot if you need a cheaper option with plenty of upside. The situation between McDonald and Jesse James has been a tough one to peg, but McDonald is the one that seems to have more of a consistent role in the aerial attack. I kinda like the idea of rolling with James as a pivot on the showdown slate given the likelihood that McDonald sees more ownership.

The Takeaway: This game is expected to have some offensive fireworks, so the usual suspects for the Steelers are all viable options. Conner, Brown, Smith-Schuster and Big Ben make sense in all formats, while the McDonald vs. James discussion is essentially a coin flip.

About the Author

  • Taylor Smith (tcsmith031)

  • Taylor Smith is a native Texan (required by all fellow Texans to report this at all times) and Southern California-based sports writer. He has been playing daily fantasy sports regularly since 2012, going back to the days of DraftStreet (RIP). He specializes in MLB and NBA while dabbling in a few other sports like a true degen when the other two are out of season. He has written about DFS in the past at Bang The Book, and you can find some of his previous work on SB Nation and FanRag Sports.


  • Derfturf

    On first look, Pit is ranked 1 in rb-pa, disregard that then? I guess it depends on who they played right?

  • Potsmoke

    Why was the Monday game not included this week? I play a bunch of Thursday-Monday slates and it sucks w/o it.

  • srk8987

    Managing Editor

    @Potsmoke said...

    Why was the Monday game not included this week? I play a bunch of Thursday-Monday slates and it sucks w/o it.

    Hey Potsmoke – you can find the Grind Down for MNF here:

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