Texans vs. Panthers Picks, Lineup Tips for Daily Fantasy FanDuel, DraftKings

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2021

Texans vs. Panthers Picks, Lineup Tips for Daily Fantasy FanDuel, DraftKings

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    Week 3 of the 2021 NFL season is set to get underway with the Houston Texans hosting the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

    The Panthers have been one of the biggest surprises of the season thus far. Carolina has looked dominant defensively during wins against the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints. Christian McCaffrey has looked healthy, while Sam Darnold has resembled the blue-chip player he was supposed to be when the Jets drafted him third overall in 2018.

    Houston, meanwhile, has also been surprisingly competitive. The Texans blew out the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 and stood tall against the Cleveland Browns despite losing starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor at halftime in Week 2.

    Daily fantasy sports (DFS) enthusiasts, though, may care less about how the Panthers and Texans have gotten to this point and more about which players can deliver on Thursday night. Here, we'll examine some of the top plays and sleeper picks for DraftKings and FanDuel DFS.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    DFS Prics: $9,000 Draftings, $10,500 FanDuel

    McCaffrey is back after missing all but three games due to injury in 2020. A premier dual-threat back, he has already logged 14 receptions, 170 rushing yards, 154 receiving yards and a touchdown.

    With an extremely high fantasy floor, McCaffrey is the most expensive running back in both FanDuel and DraftKings this week. However, he should deliver on his hefty price tag against a Texans defense that surrendered 156 rushing yards against the Browns in Week 2.

    According to FantasyPros, Houston has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs through two weeks. 

    There's no reason to believe that the offense won't once again run through McCaffrey this week. He isn't a budget-friendly option, but he carries virtually no risk.

Carolina Panthers Defense

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    DFS Price: $3,300 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel

    While defenses are often an afterthought in fantasy, they can mean the difference between winning a DFS game and merely placing respectably. A good defense can push a roster over the top, and the Panthers boast one of the league's best.

    Through two weeks, Carolina ranks first in both yards allowed and points allowed. It has also logged three interceptions and a whopping 10 sacks. The Panthers defense is dangerous and oozes confidence.

    "I believe in my guys, I believe in myself. I’d pick us against anybody," pass-rusher Brian Burns said, per The Athletic's Joseph Person.

    The Carolina defense should be in store for another strong performance. With Texans starter Tyrod Taylor out with a hamstring injury, Houston will give rookie Davis Mills his first career start. Expect the Panthers defense to feast.

Sleeper: Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    DFS Prics: $5,900 DraftKings, $7,100 FanDuel

    While Darnold has looked like a much better signal-caller than he was during his Jets days, he remains a relative budget option in DFS. That's a good thing for managers looking to spend big on players like McCaffrey.

    Last week, he threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns with an interception against a good New Orleans Saints defense.

    The Texans defense hasn't been a major liability, but it has had its issues against opposing quarterbacks. Browns signal-caller Baker Mayfield played the bulk of Week 2 without top wideout Jarvis Landry. While he did throw a pick, he also finished 19-of-21 for 213 yards with rushing and passing touchdowns.

    Darnold should have a strong game and is a fine sleeper pick for Week 3.

Sleeper: David Johnson, RB, Houston Texans

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    DFS Price: $5,000 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel

    Managers looking for a deep sleeper at running back should consider Davis Johnson of the Texans. The veteran ball-carrier only ranks third on the team in rushing yards with 35, but he also ranks second in targets with six, according to Pro Football Reference.

    Through two weeks, Johnson has five receptions, 75 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.

    With Mills making his first NFL start, the Texans are likely to lean on the running game and the short-passing game early and often. Johnson is the team's top receiving back and could get a big point-per-reception boost in this one.

    While Johnson isn't likely to go off, he should be a respectable start for managers looking to splurge at other positions. He should have a floor of 3-4 receptions and 30-40 scrimmage yards with touchdown potential.


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