Mike Fanelli | November 7th, 2019
Even though it feels like it just started, we are more than halfway through the 2019 season. The San Francisco 49ers are the only remaining undefeated team as the New England Patriots loss on Sunday while the Cincinnati Bengals are the only remaining winless team as the Miami Dolphins got their first win of the season against the New York Jets. Last week’s Thursday night game was closer than many expected between the 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. Hopefully, tonight’s game is similar. In a division matchup between the Los Angles Chargers and Oakland Raiders, as both teams enter tonight’s game needing a win in the tight AFC Wild Card race.
To recap last week, there wasn’t a ton of fantasy points to go around but both quarterbacks went off. Jimmy Garoppolo had a career-high four touchdowns and 28.9 fantasy points while Kyler Murray had zero turnovers and scored 23 fantasy points. Kenyan Drake had easily his best game of the season in his Cardinals debut, scoring 28.2 fantasy points, the RB2 for the week. Emmanuel Sanders scored 24.2 fantasy points, the WR6 for the week, in large part because of Garoppolo’s big day. My projections from last week had some hits and some misses but no one bats 1,000% when it comes to fantasy football. Hopefully, my projections are better this week, so let’s find out.
Los Angeles Chargers
Quarterback – Philip Rivers
Every year Rivers is one of my favorite quarterbacks to draft because he almost always finishes the year as a low-end QB1 but so far this season, Rivers is the QB16, averaging 15.2 fantasy points per game, 1.3 less than the league average (16.5). The Chargers offense has been killed by injuries (like most years) and Rivers has struggled as well. Over his last five games, Rivers has scored under 15 fantasy points in four of them. During that span, Rivers has just five touchdowns and six turnovers. However, the Chargers have won two straight against good defenses and the matchup against the Raiders is the “get right” game Rivers needs.
The Raiders give up the second-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, giving up 23.9 per game. Since their week six bye, quarterbacks are averaging 32 fantasy points per game against the Raiders’ awful defense. During that span, the Raiders have given up 11 passing touchdowns and over 400 passing yards twice. On top of that, pass rusher Arden Key, who is tied for second on the team in sacks, is expected to miss the rest of the season with a foot injury. In his last four games against the Raiders, Rivers is averaging just under 20 fantasy points per game. Given how bad the Raiders defense is, I expect Rivers to notch his first 25 plus fantasy point game of the season tonight in what should be a high scoring game.
Running Back – Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson
The new backfield from hell. Ekeler had scored 22 or more fantasy points in two of the first four games Gordon played this season, while Gordon had failed to top 11.5 fantasy points in any game. However, during that span, Ekeler only out-snapped Gordon 136-128, but Gordon out-touched Ekeler 55-48. On Sunday, Gordon said enough was enough, scoring a season-high 20.5 fantasy points, including two touchdowns. Gordon out-snapped Ekeler 45-24 and out-touched him 23-16 against the Packers. It appears Gordon is taking back his job as the lead back in Los Angeles.
After missing the last five games with a calf injury, Jackson returned against the Packers, logging just five snaps, getting three touches for 14 yards and 2.4 fantasy points. With Gordon and Ekeler’s roles locked in stone, Jackson offers no season-long value and at $1,800 he isn’t worth a flier in DFS tonight either. However, for Gordon and Ekeler, tonight’s matchup is very fantasy-friendly.
The Raiders give up a little more than the league average (23.2) in fantasy points per game to running backs. However, over in their three games since the bye week, running backs are averaging 28 fantasy points per game despite facing the Texans and Lions during that span. With limited options in the passing game, I expect the Chargers to get both Gordon and Ekeler 15 plus touches tonight. Given his workload last week, especially at the goal line, I view Gordon as a high-end RB2 while Ekeler is more of a low-end RB2 or a flex option in non PPR leagues. With six teams on a bye, you can play both with a fair amount of confidence this week.
Wide Receiver – Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Andre Patton
Who would have guessed the Chargers would miss Tyrell Williams so much. With all the injuries at wide receivers (the Chargers have three wide receivers on injured reserve), the Chargers’ WR3 is Patton, who hasn’t seen a target since week four. Despite playing 82% of the snaps over the last two weeks, there are zero reasons why Patton should be on your roster, let alone starting, no matter how big or deep your team/league is. Now that the nonsense is out of the way, let’s focus on how good the matchup is for Allen and Williams.
To say the Raiders defense is awful but that is like saying water is wet. No (bleep) Sherlock! I expect the Chargers to attack the Raiders awful secondary over and over again tonight. The Raiders give up the second-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers, giving up 8.5 more fantasy points per game than the league average (42.2). Furthermore, over their three games since the bye week, the Raiders have given up an average of 46.1 fantasy points per game to wide receivers. During that span, they have allowed wide receivers to score 49 or more fantasy points twice. Their secondary is pathetic and they have given up 41 or more fantasy points to wide receivers in 50% of their games this season.
After averaging 29.2 fantasy points per game over the first three games of the season, Allen has scored under 12.5 fantasy points in the six games since. However, that should change tonight. Meanwhile, Williams has been more much consistent, scoring 8.7 or more fantasy points in five straight games. Williams is coming off a season-high 111 receiving yards and 14.3 fantasy points against the Packers. The Raiders defense is exactly what the Chargers need to get this offense into high gear and given how good the matchup is, I expect both Allen and Williams to have big games tonight. Both wide receivers are in my top 24 for the week and offer both a safe floor and plenty of upside.
Tight End – Hunter Henry
Entering the year, Henry was my favorite value tight end, unfortunately, he got hurt in week one and missed four games with a knee injury. However, he has scored 10 or more fantasy points in four of his five games this season and since returning from the injury, Henry has scored 15 or more fantasy points in three of four games. Furthermore, he has seen at least eight targets and over 80 receiving yards in three of his last four games. Since returning from his injury, Henry has been the most targeted player for the Chargers.
Meanwhile, the Raiders’ awful defense is just as fantasy friendly to tight ends as they are wide receivers. They give up the third-most fantasy points per game to tight ends, giving up 15.8 per game, 4.1 more than the league average. The Raiders have allowed tight ends to score 23.5 or more fantasy points in almost half their games this season. Furthermore, over their three games since the bye week, the Raiders are giving up an average of 1.3 touchdowns and 18.5 fantasy points per game to tight ends. With Zach Ertz on a bye and Austin Hooper facing a tough matchup, Henry is my TE2 this week and a must-start unless you have Travis Kelce.
With Derwin James, Adrian Phillips, and Nasir Adderley on injured reserve, it’s no surprise the Chargers D/ST has been a let down this season. Combine that with the three games Melvin Ingram missed and it’s borderline a miracle the Chargers have the 14th ranked D/ST. While getting back Ingram helped the Chargers get seven sacks over their last two games, the D/ST is averaging just 8.5 fantasy points during that span. They haven’t scored over nine fantasy points since week five and have scored more than nine fantasy points just twice this season.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are surprisingly the third toughest against D/STs. Since their week six bye, D/STs have scored negative nine fantasy points in three games. D/STs have scored more than seven fantasy points just once against the Raiders this year and that was back in week two. Furthermore, when facing the Raiders at home, D/STs are averaging just 1.8 fantasy points per game. On top of that, Derek Carr has thrown just one interception in his last five games. Even with six teams on a bye, there are zero reasons why anyone should start the Chargers D/ST tonight.
Quarterback – Derek Carr
Carr has been a solid fantasy quarterback since the Raiders’ week six bye, averaging 19.6 fantasy points per game. During those three games, Carr has scored 19 or more twice and has thrown at least two touchdowns and 285 yards in every game. With six teams on a bye and his recent success, many view Carr as a top 10 quarterback this week. I disagree as the matchup isn’t fantasy-friendly.
The Chargers’ defense has dealt with plenty of injuries this season but has done a good job limiting quarterbacks’ fantasy production. The Chargers give up the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, giving up just 13.5 per game. In five of their last six games, the Chargers have held quarterbacks under 13 fantasy points. They have given up more than 17 fantasy points just twice this season and have held quarterbacks under two passing touchdown in five of their last six games. Carr is a high-end QB2 this week but he comes with risk because of the matchup. The Chargers can be attacked on the ground much better than in the air and I expect it to be a big Josh Jacobs game.
Running Back – Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington
Speaking of Jacobs, the rookie running back has been excellent this season and is on way to winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. A few weeks back I was on the record saying to buy low on Jacobs after he scored just 12.8 fantasy points in week four against the Colts. In the four games since the Colts matchup, Jacobs has scored 16 plus fantasy points and rushed for 120 or more yards in three of the four games. He has scored four touchdowns during that span and averaged 4.3 yards per carry in every game. He is the RB10 for the season and I think he finishes as a top 12 guy this year. Furthermore, I’ll go on record again, Jacobs will be a top 30 pick in redraft leagues next year.
While Jacobs is a must-start regardless of the matchup, the Chargers give up a little more than the league average in fantasy points per game to running backs, giving up 25.6 per game. However, over their last five games, running backs have rushed for 90 or more yards and a touchdown four times. Furthermore, running backs have rushed for 115 or more yards in three of those five games. As great as the matchup is, Jacobs is the only Raiders’ running back you should have on your roster, let alone start this week.
The duo of Richard and Washington has one game scoring 10 or more fantasy points this season. Neither back has a game with 10 plus touches this season and neither back has played more than 33% of the snaps in any game since week four. While neither is fantasy relevant in season-long leagues, I would take a shot on Richard in DFS ($3,000 on DraftKings) if you need to save money for bigger name players in your lineup. Richard is the Raiders’ pass-catching back, as he leads all Raider running backs in targets. While it’s a long shot, maybe this game gets away from the Raiders, putting them in a negative game script, opening up the door for Richard to have a six-plus catch game.
Wide Receiver – Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones, Marcell Ateman
First things first, Jones and Ateman shouldn’t be on redraft rosters. Williams is the top guy of this group, averaging 14.8 fantasy points per game. He is the WR19 on a points per game basis this season and has scored 11.9 or more fantasy points in five of his six games this season. Despite missing two games with an injury, Williams is just three targets behind Renfrow for the team lead at wide receiver. However, after getting seven targets in three of his first four games, he has just 10 total over the last two games. To make things worse he will see plenty of Casey Hayward tonight.
The Chargers give up the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers, giving up 30.9 per game. They have held wide receivers under 30 fantasy points in almost half their games this season and have given up just two touchdowns to wide receivers over their last four games. Furthermore, as a unit, wide receiver have caught more than 15 balls in just one game against the Chargers. Despite the injuries in the secondary, this group is tough on wide receivers.
Because of the matchup, Williams is a high risk, high reward WR3/flex option this week. Williams has the ability to take the top off a defense and it takes just one play for him to rip off a 60-yard touchdown. However, with Hayward likely covering him most of the night, those odds are slim. While I wouldn’t trust Renfrow in standard size season-long leagues, he is an interesting option in larger PPR leagues and DFS.
At $5,000 on DraftKings, Renfrow offers a high target upside as he is one of Carr’s most trusted weapons. Over the last two weeks, Renfrow leads the team in targets with 11 despite being on the field just 58.6% of the snaps. The duo Ingram and Joey Bosa could put a lot of pressure on Carr forcing him to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Renfrow averages just 4.8 air yards per target, lowest on the team. This means if Carr has to get the ball out of his hands quickly, Renfrow will likely be his first read. If Renfrow can get 10-12 targets (which would easily set a new career-high), he has the potential to finish as a WR3 in PPR and a nice value play in DFS.
Tight End – Darren Waller, Foster Moreau
After posting a career-high 31.6 fantasy points against the Packers in week seven, Waller has scored a total of 16.3 fantasy points in the two games since. He has fallen into a slump with Williams back but he has 10 targets over the last two games and has seen seven or more targets in 75% of his games this season. Waller has scored three touchdowns over the last three weeks and is the TE3 on the season, averaging 15.2 fantasy points per game. Despite his recent slump and a tough matchup, Waller is still a top-five tight end this week, especially with six teams on a bye.
Although Moreau has played 48.7% of the snaps since the bye week, he shouldn’t be on season-long rosters. While he has gotten more targets in the red zone lately, Moreau is very much touchdown-dependent. In the three games Moreau has scored a touchdown, he is averaging 9.9 fantasy points per game compared to just 3.1 fantasy points per game when he doesn’t score a touchdown. However, at $2,200 on DraftKings, Moreau is worth a look if you want to save money in your lineups tonight but you are hoping he finds the end zone for the third time in four weeks.
Meanwhile, the Chargers give up the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends, giving up just 9.6 per game. They have held tight ends to under 7.5 fantasy points in five of their last six games. They have given up just three touchdowns to tight ends this season and haven’t given up once since week three. With the matchup, Waller is a volume-based play with some risk (still a top-five tight end this week for me) while Moreau is nothing more than a desperation TE2.
Let’s not kid ourselves, the Raiders’ defense is a joke. Their D/ST has scored under five fantasy points in 75% of their games this season and they have scored negative fantasy points in almost half of their games. Since their bye week, the Raiders have scored a total of negative four fantasy points. Meanwhile, D/STs score about the league average against the Chargers’ offense. However, over the Chargers’ last three games, D/STs are averaging just 2.3 fantasy points per game. That three-game span includes the Titans, Bears, and Packers. The Raiders’ defense is in a totally different class than those other three teams. The Raiders D/ST is the 28th ranked D/ST on the season, averaging just two fantasy points per game.
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