XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football has the Bears visiting the Chargers in a matchup that looked a lot more exciting before Justin Fields got hurt. The game has a solid 46.5 total (the second highest of the week!) but with the Chargers favored by 8.5 so Vegas is saying this is likely to be somewhat one-sided despite the vulnerability of the Chargers defense. We have two meaningful questionable tags in Josh Palmer and Gerald Everett, both of whom got in at least some practice this week so I’m assuming they will be playing. Let’s see if we can figure this one out.
The Chargers run game is Austin Ekeler, backed up by Josh Kelley. When Kelley has been given a bell cow role this season he has struggled immensely, but either humorously or annoyingly (depending on who you played), he’s had his two best games of the season when Ekeler was active. Ekeler is very clearly the lead back, but the Chargers don’t generally let him go much above 20 touches as he’s generally around the 12-16 carry range with a healthy dose of targets. His passing game role, his talent, and the offense’s overall aptitude give him plenty of floor and ceiling on any given week, but he’s not the kind of back who you can expect to get 25+ touches very often. The good news is that in years past they didn’t give him goal line carries, but this season Ekeler has nine carries inside the 10 yard line (despite only playing three games) while Kelley has just seven. The matchup, however, is quietly more difficult than might be assumed at first glance as the Bears have actually been very good against the run, allowing an average of just 82.3 rushing yards per game despite playing from behind for most of the season. Overall, Ekeler’s talent and role make him a strong play but perhaps not quite as strong as the field might assume given that the matchup isn’t all that soft. Kelley is the quintessential “RB2 in Showdown” play as he has a real role behind Ekeler, and while he’s pricier than you’d want for an RB2, he has scores of 13.5 and 15.1 DK points this season, both of which came in games playing with Ekeler. Kelley is a bit overpriced but still belongs in player pools.
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In the passing game, we’ll see Keenan Allen and Josh Palmer on the field for almost every snap, with Quentin Johnston in the WR3 role and then Derius Davis and perhaps Keelan Doss mixing in for a handful of snaps. Allen is a premier play who has at least nine targets in five of six games on the season, leads the team in red zone targets, and has a better matchup than Ekeler. Normally, I lean toward the running back with a solid passing game role, but I think I have a slight preference for Allen over Ekeler in this one. Palmer is interesting to me as he’s a guy who I liked at various points last year but seemed to struggle with consistency, but he really seems to have taken a step forward this year. He’s reached double digit DK points in every game since Mike Williams went down, he’s running a lot of deep routes (26+ yard catches in all four of those games), and he’s showing up in the red zone with five targets compared to Keenan’s nine. He seems to have taken a step forward as a player and his role is extremely good, playing at least 86% of the snaps since Williams was hurt. I was expecting to see him in somewhere in the $6.5k range, but $7k is reasonable – he’s more volatile than Allen, but a solid play. Poor Quentin Johnston just has not gotten it together at the NFL level, having yet to see more than three targets or more than 20 receiving yards in a game. He’s a well-regarded rookie and I expect he’ll show improvement at some point, but at $4,800 he’s clearly overpriced (I have no idea why DK raised his price from $1,600 in the last Chargers showdown . . . maybe it was his dominant one catch, 20 yard performance?). You’re really only playing him because “weird things happen in single game sample sizes and maybe he has a good game.” I’m not really on him. If in this salary range, tight end Gerald Everett is a much stronger play at $5k. He hasn’t really hit for a big game yet but his role is reasonable, averaging four targets per game and with five red zone targets. And then we come to Donald Parham, who apparently just catches touchdowns. Parham has 13 targets on the season, but seven of them have come in the red zone for three scores. Parham’s floor is dubious as he isn’t getting enough volume to put up a viable score without finding the end zone, and while earlier in the season he was priced at a level that could make a single touchdown catch likely to put him in the optimal lineup, at $4,200 he’s probably going to need more than one catch for a score, and the volume just isn’t really there for him (his best game is 14.4 Draftkings points and it took TWO touchdowns to get him there). While Parham’s red zone is robust, at his price it’s really hard for him to pay off without finding the end zone twice.