XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football brings us an awesome game as the Chargers visit the Raiders. Whoever wins this game gets into the playoffs, so we have plenty of motivation on both sides – no questions around who’s going to play the full game in this one. The game also has a 49 point total, the highest of Week 18, with the Chargers favored by 3. We can expect both teams to be going all-out here, and for their primary players to be heavily utilized. In a game like this, I personally think there’s less risk of random dudes finding a bigger role unless there’s an in-game injury.
Ownership updates automatically
On the Chargers side, Austin Ekeler should get all the workload he can handle. I expect his snap count to be higher than the 58% he saw in Week 17, and more in the 70-75% range that we’ve seen earlier in the season (possibly even higher). Ekeler’s pass game role is elite and he’s been getting the goal-line carries that eluded him earlier in his career, making him the strongest skill position play in this game. The Raiders are 9th in run defense DVOA and 25th against the pass, but where they’re most vulnerable in the passing game is in the short areas of the field, right where Ekeler gets his work. Gimme. Behind Ekeler, Justin Jackson should still see a few RB2 snaps, but in this must-win game, I’d expect Jackson’s role to be pretty modest unless the Chargers get out to a huge lead and want to protect Ekeler for the playoffs. At $5,200, I’d be off Jackson unless you want to either bet on an injury to Ekeler or a blowout win.
In the passing game, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are the main wide receivers (duh), with Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer having moved into something of an even split as the season has gone on (something I wrote about ages ago and was, unfortunately, several weeks too early on). We know the deal with these guys by now: Allen is the short area volume hog, while Mike Williams was moved out of his early-season X receiver role and back to the deep threat route tree that he has spent most of his career in. Allen brings a rock-solid floor but I feel he’s overpriced for his likeliest range of outcomes. We’ll have to see if the field agrees or not. If he’s highly owned, I would aim to be underweight, but if the field overlooks him because of his price, he still definitely has upside. Williams brings a theoretical high ceiling but he’s only exceeded 15.3 DK points twice since Week 5, which is when he was moved out of the X receiver role, but at $7,200, I feel like his upside easily justifies his price – just know that his floor is also quite low. And speaking of low floors, Guyton and Palmer both have floors of zero, but they also have significantly more upside than the kickers they’re priced near. Personally, I prefer Palmer as the receiver whose role has been growing throughout the season. Either one is viable here in tournaments and neither should be considered safe for cash. I will have more Palmer than Guyton exposure in my MME builds. At tight end, Donald Parham was placed on injured reserve but that did not lead to a large increase in workload for Jared Cook, as he saw 63% of the snaps in Week 16 which is just slightly above his season average. I view Cook as a higher floor but lower ceiling play compared to Guyton and Palmer, and he’s also more expensive, but that whole “middle of the field” weakness of the Raiders plays to the Chargers attacking them with tight ends. To go back to the rankings, I’d go Palmer, then Cook, then Guyton in tournaments. Cook will be backed up by Stephen Anderson, who played 78% of the snaps last week and saw one target, and then Tre McKitty, who played 52% of the snaps and saw three targets. Both can be considered as MME punt plays.
On the Raiders side, Josh Jacobs is listed as questionable but got in limited practices all week and thus seems likely to play. Jacobs seems to be in and out of games frequently with little injuries and thus has only seen 20+ carries twice this year and has only hit the 100-yard bonus once, but his passing game role has been relatively solid with at least three targets in every game but two this year. The Chargers are dead last in run defense DVOA, and so we can expect the Raiders to run the ball as much as possible (and as much as the game script allows for). Jacobs feels underpriced to me at $7,800, as while he isn’t quite a full-fledged bell cow, he is extremely likely to see at least 18 running back opportunities with several of them being targets in a fantastic matchup. Behind Jacobs, Peyton Barber should steal a handful of carries and a target or two, while passing-game specialist Jalen Richard has actually been out-targeted by Barber since making his return in Week 15. Barber gets the “RB2 in Showdown” exposure level (which for me is about 8-10% of my MME entries), while Richard can be considered a thin punt option.
In the passing game, the big question is if Darren Waller returns. Waller is questionable and appeared like he might have been ready to come back in Week 17 until being put on the COVID list. He cleared the protocols in time to get in some practice sessions so this isn’t a “he didn’t practice all week but he’s active” situation. If he plays, I expect he’ll be ready to rock. My guess is that given the importance of the game, he’ll be in, which obviously puts a dent in all of the other Raiders pass-catchers as his 8.4 targets per game leads the team. If he plays, he’s really the WR1 of this offense, and he would reduce all of Zay Jones, Bryan Edwards, DeSean Jackson, and Foster Moreau to MME-only plays in my eyes. Hunter Renfrow is the other Las Vegas receiver who is viable no matter Waller’s status (Renfrow has smashed several times with Waller playing beside him). We know the deal with Renfrow by now: he’s Las Vegas’s version of Keenan Allen, vacuuming up short-area targets at high volume. Renfrow is a full $2,000 cheaper than Allen, leading me to prefer him to Keenan. Zay Jones has earned himself a real role with this team, and while that role would be dinged a bit by Waller’s return, I think it’s still a solid one with 34 targets in the last four weeks (and strong performance on those targets as well). Jones is in that salary wasteland range, slightly cheaper than Mike Williams and more than Jared Cook, and players in that price range tend to end up under-owned. As uncomfortable as it sounds, I want to be overweight on him. Edwards and Jackson are tourney-only plays as both are highly volatile and neither have had many “boom” performances. Of the two, I prefer Jackson, as he tends to at least earn targets when he’s on the field, while Edwards just runs wind sprints down the sideline on every play. Foster Moreau is an MME punt play if Waller is active, and an extremely strong on-paper option if Waller misses, as at $2,600, he’s the cheapest full-time player in the game (besides Edwards, who is a full-time sprinter but does very little else).
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The way this game should play out is a close-fought affair. The Raiders are likely to prefer to keep the ball on the ground, to take advantage of the matchup and keep it out of Justin Herbert’s hands, so the thing likeliest to drive a different outcome is if the Chargers get out to a multi-score lead that forces more aerial aggression out of Las Vegas. It’s worth noting here that the Chargers are catching the Raiders at a time when Derek Carr has looked pretty atrocious, having not exceeded 12.52 DK points in his past FIVE games and with five interceptions against just four touchdowns in that span. The Raiders have also scored 17 or fewer points in four of those five games. Obviously, missing Daren Waller is a relevant factor here, but worth noting because if Waller misses, we could potentially see Las Vegas really struggle once again.
Normally, this is where I talk about other scenarios of how the game could play out, and of course, there are different ones, with the most likely one to me being the Chargers just stomping on the Raiders. But frankly, I think the most likely option is a relatively close game and I expect ownership will be pretty reasonably distributed between the run and passing games (i.e. the old “flip the script of betting on touchdowns coming where the field isn’t expecting” doesn’t seem especially viable here).
In cash games, my player pool consists of the quarterbacks and running backs, the kickers, Moreau (if Waller is out), and then if you need a mid-range play, I’d look to someone like Jones (if Waller is out) or Palmer.
In tournaments, I want to be overweight captain on Ekeler, Jacobs, Waller, and Mike Williams.
Some groups to consider
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain pass catchers with their QBs (or consider boosting the QB if using a captain receiver if you don’t want 100% exposure to this pairing – discussed in further detail in the 2020 update to my Advanced Showdowns course)
- If using an RB captain, apply a negative correlation to the opposing defense and kicker (you can see how to do so in my FantasyLabs tutorial video)
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 pass catchers
- If Ekeler captain, no Jackson (unless building a 5-1 Chargers onslaught)
- At most 1 of Barber and Richard
- At most 1 of Edwards and Jackson
- At most 1 of Guyton and Palmer (or, at most 2 of Guyton, Palmer, and Cook)
By Dwprix >>
- Total of 49.5, highest of the Week (no 50+ point totals this week)
- LAC won the first matchup between these two 28-14
- LV scores 21.2 pts/g (18th)
- LAC scores 27.6 pts/g (6th)
- LV has won 3 straight facing IND, DEN, & CLE
- They allowed just 23, 17, & 16 pts in those 3
- LAC is 2-2 in their last 4 facing DEN, HOU, KC, & NYG
- They’ve scored 34, 29, 28, & 37 in those
- They’re 6-0 when scoring 30+
- LAC will clinch playoff berth with win
- Herbert vs LV: (21.3, 31.0, 26.4)
- Herbert’s scored in the 20’s 6 times, in the 30’s 3 times, & has broke 40 once
- 300+ pass yds in 8
- LV allows 214.6 pass yds/g (10th fewest)
- Last 7 DK pts (17.7, 21.9, 24.0, 24.9, 29.3, 24.7, 38.3)
- LV allows 17.9 DK pts/g to QBs (11th fewest)
- Tgts last 3: Allen (8, 6, 10) // Williams (4, DNP, 9) // Guyton (2, 0, 2) // Palmer (5, 6, 1) // Ekeler (3, DNP, 4)
- Snaps last week: Guyton 32 // Palmer 31
- Allen has scored in the 20’s 4 times & hasn’t broke 30 DK pts this season
- Williams has scored in the 20’s 3 times but also in the 30’s twice early in the season
- His high score in the past 10 games: 20.7
- LV allows 29.5 DK pts/g to WRs (3rd least)
- Ekeler has scored a TD in all but 3 games he’s played
- 11 Rush TDs // 7 Receiving TDs
- 8 games over 100 scrimmage yds
- Only hit DK bonus once
- LV allows 116.1 rush yds/g (12th most)
- Over their last 3 they’ve allowed 76.3 (2nd fewest)
- In their last 3, they faced CLE, DEN, & IND, all run heavy teams (IND 2nd in rush yds/g, CLE 4th, DEN 14th)
- LV allows 28.2 DK pts/g to RBs (4th most)
- Carr vs LAC: (15.4, 2.1, 15.0, 21.9, 13.1, 8.9, 14.2, 11.8, 8.8, 12.0, 26.0, 16.2, 23.9, 5.9, 26.5)
- First 7 games: 5 games w/ 300+ yds // Since: 1
- DK pts last 5: (12.2, 10.5, 12.1, 12.5, 12.4)
- $10k is his cheapest Showdown price since WK 2
- LAC allows 18.6 DK pts/g (16th)
- Darren Waller (Q) hasn’t played since WK 12
- Tgts last 3: Jones (10, 8, 9) // Renfrow (9, 3, 5) // Edwards (2, 0, 4) // Jackson (3, 5, 3) // Moreau (1, 4, 9)
- Renfrow has 8 or more tgts in 10 games this season
- TDs in 3 of 4 // 7 total TDs // 3 games w/ 100+ yds
- Jones tgts have increased since WK 11 (2, 7, 5, 7, 9, 8, 10)
- LAC allows 30.1 DK pts/g to WRs (4th least)
- Last game vs LAC: Josh Jacobs (13:40, 5:17, 5 tgts)
- Last 3 games: Jacobs (16:63:1 TD, 4:17) // (27:129, 1:-5) // (15:52, 3:42) Peyton Barber (6:3, 2:9) // (5:22, 1:0) // (5:34, 1:12)
- In 13 games, Jacobs has rushed for 100+ once (vs DEN WK 16, 129 yds)
- LAC allows 136.7 rush yds/g (3rd most)
- Over their last 3, LAC allowed 119.3 (16th)
- Jacobs has 8 TDs while missing 3 games
- LAC allows 27.1 DK pts/g to RBs (6th most)