Panthers vs. Cardinals DFS lineup: Weighing whether to start Christian McCaffrey, James Conner, and DJ Moore

Here is our recommended Panthers vs. Cardinals DFS lineup based on likely game-script analyses for their NFL Week 4 Sunday matchup.

If you’re playing a Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals DFS lineup for Sunday in Week 4, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve analyzed each team’s highest-probability game scripts to assess the most likely outcomes, including which players are in line to thrive more than anticipated or fall short of expectations.

The following recommended fantasy football lineup (for tournaments, 50/50, or head-to-head competitions) aims to lock in a relatively high floor while maximizing upside.

Recommended Panthers vs. Cardinals DFS lineup

Today, we’re playing DraftKings “Showdown Captain Mode,” which includes one player who earns 1.5 times his scoring output, plus five Flex players. The following NFL betting recommendations are based on proprietary PFN predictive analytics pulled from decades of NFL historical data.

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Using this data, I’ve built dozens of models showing actionable probabilities of better-than-expected and worse-than-expected outcomes. Criteria such as age, durability, shifting personnel, schedule, and other factors help shape these final assessments.

Panthers DFS considerations

Our thinking on this DFS lineup should begin and end with our outlook on Baker Mayfield. He’s exceeded 18 fantasy points only once in his last 19 games, dating back to 2020. Despite the opposing Cardinals’ struggles, Mayfield has completed just 51.9% of his pass attempts — the second-lowest mark of any Week 4 starter. He looked far worse against the Giants in Week 2 (at home) than Cooper Rush did this past Monday on the road.

So yeah, this is not what Carolina — and certainly not Mayfield — had hoped for. Notably, his 67-yard TD pass to Laviska Shenault Jr. on Sunday accounted for 12% of Mayfield’s 2022 passing yards — and all 67 yards came after the catch. That’s not sustainable, and it reinforces why we can’t trust more than two Panthers in our lineup today.

One of those probably should be Christian McCaffrey, barring any Sunday morning setbacks. It’s hard to ignore an offensive centerpiece, even when that centerpiece has lacked the dominance of years past. Additionally, we should consider DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson, Ian Thomas, or perhaps the ultra-cheap Shi Smith. If we incorporate Smith, maybe we can afford Moore or Anderson — that is, if we believe one of them can break through against the odds.

Cardinals DFS considerations

While Arizona has its own troubles, they’re more execution-driven than talent-driven. The Cardinals have the pieces in place to be a playoff contender and should improve when DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and even A.J. Green are back in the fold. Last season began with Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Green, and Moore atop the WR depth chart. So far this season, the team has had to adjust dramatically.

James Conner will be the X-factor in this contest — a high-upside starter with strong TD potential, yet lacking the efficiency to maintain a high enough floor. He’ll need to be priced right to be worth the plunge.

Marquise Brown and Greg Dortch are fascinating possibilities, although these days Dortch is priced as an impact starting WR. In other words, he’ll need to keep producing double-digit points to come close to meeting DFS value expectations.

In the end, Kyler Murray might be the safest play. Although Carolina’s been one of the toughest teams against fantasy QBs, the quarterbacks they’ve contained have been Jacoby Brissett, Daniel Jones, and a broken-ribbed Jameis Winston. They haven’t faced a QB this season remotely as talented as Murray.

Recommended DFS lineup

This lineup assumes McCaffrey ($12,000) will be good to go on Sunday. Below I’ll present an alternate lineup if he sits. He’s joined by DJ Moore ($7,100 normally, $10,800 as Captain) in our Captain slot. Yes, the same Moore on pace for less than 500 receiving yards this season. If you believe he’ll be twice as bad (statistically) as any of his past three campaigns, then ignore my advice. Otherwise, trust that talent usually wins in the end.

This gives us enough cap space for Murray ($11,800) and Brown ($9,800). We’ll also roll with Eddy Pineiro ($4,200) and presumed No. 3 Carolina receiver Shi Smith ($1,000) with $400 to spare.

If McCaffrey has a setback Sunday morning, rendering him “out” or “on a snap count,” then I’d replace him, Pineiro, and Smith with Ertz ($6,800), Mayfield ($9,600), and the amazingly cheap D’Onta Foreman ($200). While I’d like to squeeze in Conner, his exorbitant price ($8,800) makes him too risky given his sharp downside. If McCaffrey sits, Foreman could actually outperform Conner.

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