We are now a full week removed from Halloween, but don’t the Chargers feel like a horror movie villain this season? We all thought they’d been left for dead at 2-5 after Melvin Gordon ($7,200) fumbled away that game against Tennessee at the goal line; however, they’ve returned and seemingly are getting stronger. In the past two weeks Los Angeles has welcomed back both left tackle Russell Okung and defensive terror Melvin Ingram.
The good news doesn’t stop there, either. The Chargers have won two contests in a row and there were reports this morning that second-year safety Derwin James will be set to rejoin the team following its Week 12 bye. Jamie Kennedy only promised the defeated killer in a film would muster one last scare, yet I’m not so sure Los Angeles can’t sustain what it’s doing for the rest of 2019. Be afraid, Neve Campbell and all AFC squads.
It’s the Chargers. It’s the Raiders. Let’s break down this evening’s Thursday Night Football tilt from a DraftKings Showdown perspective.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
Oakland RaidersIt’s odd timing to say something like this, with Los Angeles having limited both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams in its 26-11 win against Green Bay last Sunday, but this is a fantastic spot for Josh Jacobs ($9,400). The Chargers have allowed an opposing running back to exceed 15.0 PPR fantasy points in seven of their nine matchups to begin the season, and the numbers have been especially dire dating back to Week 5. Within that specific span, Los Angeles has surrendered an average of 24.2 DKFP per game to the “lead back” it’s happened to face, with the likes of Phillip Lindsay, James Conner and David Montgomery all easily surpassing 100 scrimmage yards and 27.0 DKFP. Strangely enough, Jacobs also has been putting up eye-popping statistics in this identical timeframe. Despite the rookie having played only four contests in this recent run, he’s one of just four RBs to have posted three 100-yard rushing performances, and his 90 carries sit as the fifth-most in football. However, Jacobs’ success isn’t solely contingent upon volume, as he additionally has managed to collect an elite 0.51 PPR fantasy points per snap played across this stretch. A larger workload in the passing attack would be welcomed with open arms, yet, as one of the league’s few running backs with a 20-touch floor, Jacobs is always viable even without a perfect role.
I have less confidence in Derek Carr ($9,600). It’s not as if the veteran QB doesn’t have his positive aspects, but it’s difficult to envision paying such a hefty price for such a conservative player. In fact, Carr ranks third worst among all qualified quarterbacks in both aDOT (7.1 yards) and intended air yards per attempt (6.6). That aversion to risk has translated into Carr also owning the league’s highest adjusted completion rate (81.5%); however, even with that level of accuracy, he still is mustering an unremarkable 0.49 fantasy points per drop back. Carr’s simply not a high-volume passer, either. Among pivots who have appeared in at least eight games entering Week 10, Carr’s 264 dropbacks are more than only Jimmy Garoppolo; while Carr joins Josh Allen in that grouping as the lone two QBs without a 300-yard passing performance so far in 2019. Look at it this way: With Carr, you’re having to put a lot of stock in the touchdown expectancy of a man who sits 20th in red zone attempts (30). Not to mention the Chargers have conceded just 222.9 opponent passing yards per contest and the third-fewest 40-plus yard passing plays of any secondary this season. They’ve been pretty stout.
It might not be a good week to lean too heavily on Darren Waller ($8,600). Though the young tight end has literally twice as many receptions (48) as any other person on Oakland’s roster, Los Angeles has been relatively stingy surrendering points to TEs in 2019. Really, the Chargers barely have allowed any aside from one week of action. In Week 3’s loss to the Texans, the Changers let Jordan Akins and Darren Fells combine for three touchdowns and 38.2 PPR points. In the other eight games they’ve played? Well, tight ends have been held 47.8 PPR points in total and have not been permitted into the end zone even once. Heck, since the beginning of Week 4, Los Angeles has conceded only 21 targets to the position — the fourth-fewest of all NFL teams within that span. Waller is a stud and is averaging a robust 2.15 yards per route run this year — so a full fade might not be the way to go, yet I’ll be limiting my exposure.
The same philosophy applies to Tyrell Williams ($8,000), a big-play WR stuck in an offense that generally doesn’t produce chunk plays. The presence of Casey Hayward, likely to be shadowing Williams, doesn’t help his value much, either. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend up for receiving options in this offense not named Waller. The tight end is the only member of the team with an overall target share or red zone target share above even 21%. We’re talking about a low-volume passing attack that spreads the love. With that being the case, I’d focus my attention on Hunter Renfroe ($5,000), who’s led the squad in targets (11) and catches (10) the past two weeks, and Zay Jones ($2,600), who played a position-high 91% of the offensive snaps in Week 9’s win over Detroit.
Los Angeles ChargersAre you ready to eat some Philip Rivers ($10,000) chalk? The Raiders have been atrocious defending the pass so far in 2019, and I don’t believe that suddenly is going to fix itself over the course of a shortened week. Not only is Oakland surrendering a league-worst 297.5 opponent passing yards per game, it also has seen that figure balloon to an absurd 354.0 over its past three matchups — a span in which both Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers threw for 400-plus yards. This secondary is simply poor by any metric imaginable. No team in the NFL has given up more 20-plus yard passing plays than the Raiders (43), while no AFC team has allowed more passing touchdowns (22) or a higher opponent passer rating (114.8). Essentially, Rivers is going to smash. Still, it’s not like his value is completely tied to the obviously great matchup. Rivers comes into Week 10 leading the league with 2,609 passing yards, and he already has managed five starts with more than 20.0 DKFP. Honestly, you could even make the case he’s been unlucky this season despite all the surface success.
To be blunt: Los Angeles has performed regrettably in the red zone. Though the team sits top five in the league in categories like yards per drive (38.0) and plays per drive (6.7), it ranks in bottom five in TD/FG ratio (1.04) and points scored per red zone trip (4.1). The Chargers have had the opportunities to put crooked numbers on the scoreboard, but, instead, they’ve decided to strengthen Michael Badgley’s ($3,800) DFS profile. However, while this issue definitely has affected Rivers, it’s taken a greater toll on Mike Williams ($7,400). Williams is one of just 12 wideouts with double-digit targets inside the opponent’s 20-yard line to this point in 2019. Yet, despite that usage — and his respectable air yardage total — Williams hasn’t found the end zone this season. To put that in perspective; Davante Adams is the only other player with at least six red zone targets without a touchdown, and he’s missed a significant portion of the campaign due to a toe injury. Oakland has surrendered an AFC-high 10.4 yards per target to opposing WRs this year, an embarrassment the Raiders pair with conceding the most DKFP to the position on a weekly basis. That means good things for Williams, Keenan Allen ($9,000) and, to a lesser extent, Hunter Henry ($8,400), who the Chargers use like a receiver. Still, the most important stat for this evening’s contest is the Raiders have allowed a touchdown on 34.2% of drives — the second-highest rate in football. If there was ever a night where Williams was most likely to find pay dirt, it’s this Thursday.
When it comes to Los Angeles’ running backs, it’s as simple as picking an outcome. If you think the Chargers are going to emerge victorious tonight — which I do — that means Gordon is your RB of choice. The former Pro Bowler didn’t exactly seem explosive rushing for 80 yards on 20 carries last week against the Packers, yet it was easily the best he’s looked since ending his holdout. Also, with Los Angeles squarely in the driver’s seat for most of the matchup, Gordon saw a whopping 45 snaps to Austin Ekeler’s ($7,000) mere 24. In fact, Ekeler finished the contest playing a season-low 33.8% of the Chargers’ offensive plays. To the eye test, Ekeler remains the better actual asset of the duo and he’ll remain involved in the passing game; but it’s hard to feel great about his viability when he’s losing snaps and being out-touched in the red zone 12-to-7 over the past three weeks.
Finally, while I very much doubt people are putting a lot of consideration into playing either defense on this slate, allow me to make a special point of avoiding the more expensive Chargers D/ST ($4,200). Not only do the Raiders rank sixth in the league in yards per drive (37.4) and ninth in the league in fewest turnovers per drive (.103), but their offensive line also possesses the NFL’s second-lowest adjusted sack rate (3.9%). You might need to save some money somewhere, but it shouldn’t be here.
THE OUTCOMEWith relatively modest pricing across the board I think you’re safe in paying up for a Captain’s Pick this evening. Philip Rivers ($15,000 CP) will be the most popular choice, but it’s justifiable, as the matchup begs for his inclusion in lineups. However, Josh Jacobs ($14,100 CP) and Mike Williams ($11,100 CP) make for good options, too.
Final Score: Los Angeles 31, Oakland 24
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