XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Sunday Night Football brings us an interesting game as the Ravens visit the Chargers. We get a nice 48 point total with Baltimore favored by 3.5. On the one hand, the Chargers have been riddled with injuries (as seems to be the norm for them) but have continued to put up offense, scoring 20+ points in all but two games. They’re 8th in the NFL in scoring at 25.9 points per game but their defense is pretty awful, allowing 23.8 points per game and also allowing the most opposing passing yards per game at a whopping 291.6 (over 20 yards above Tampa, who are 31st). The Ravens, on the other hand, have the best of both worlds: they’re 4th in scoring at 27.6 points per game and are allowing just 16.1 points per game. They’re incredible on both sides of the ball, giving us a matchup that could turn into a shootout if the Chargers can find ways to put up points but could also be something of a snoozefest if Baltimore’s defense is able to clamp down.
On the Chargers side, Austin Ekeler has one of the strongest roles in the league, playing at least 63% of the snaps in all but one healthy game. We know he’s rarely going to get to 20 carries, but his passing game role is elite with roughly 5.5 targets per game to go along with about 15 carries. That’s a lot of high-value opportunities. Ekeler has struggled to find the kind of ceiling we normally expect from a $10k player, surpassing 20 DK points four times but not yet hitting 30. Still, in a Showdown, getting into the 20s gives him strong odds of being optimal. Of the four $10k+ players in this Showdown, Ekeler might be the weakest, though. It’s either him or Herbert. All four of those guys have elite ceilings, so you’ll have to pick your poison on who you want to be underweight on since you can’t be overweight everyone. Personally, Ekeler and Herbert are the two I’ll likely have less exposure to, but I wouldn’t blame you for going a different direction here, and I might even change my position if it looks like ownership is going to be skewed significantly away from Ekeler. Behind him, Josh Kelley is handling 4-6 carries or so per game with no real passing game role. Kelley will need a lucky touchdown or Ekeler getting injured in order to have a chance at finding a ceiling.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, the Chargers are down to Keenan Allen and rookie Quentin Johnston as their main wide receivers, with Jalen Guyton most likely returning this week to a WR3 role. If Guyton misses, it should be Alex Erickson based on what we saw last week, while Derius Davis will play a few WR4 snaps. With the lack of other passing game options, Allen is being absolutely bombarded with targets – he has games of 14, 16, and even 20 targets this season and has gone over 30 Draftkings points on four separate occasions. That’s why I prefer him to Ekeler. While normally we’ve thought of Allen as more of a floor than a ceiling guy, the combination of ridiculous volume as well as a more diverse route tree than we’ve seen in the past has given him a monstrous ceiling. Everyone else on the Chargers is dirty cheap. Poor Johnston really hasn’t shown much in his rookie season, but at $3k for a guy who’s on the field almost every snap for a good offense, he’s a solid value option. At some point, Herbert will have to throw to someone other than Keenan, right? Guyton brings more volatility than Johnston at a similar price, but it’s telling that he saw six targets in just his second game with the team this season, including a red zone look that went for a touchdown. He was, of course, on the Chargers last year and is familiar with the offense and with Justin Herbert, and seems to have quickly slid into a trusted role. It’s a coin flip between Guyton and Johnston, really, so I’ll just lean into whichever is projecting for lower ownership. Erickson turned 78% of the snaps last week into a single target, so even if Guyton is out and he’s called up again, he’s a shaky MME pick.
I’m assuming Gerald Everett will return this week, which sends the Chargers tight end position back into fantasy oblivion. Everett has a grand total of 167 receiving yards in eight games. Yay. TE2 Donald Parham has almost no work outside the red zone when Everett has been healthy but he’s second on the team with 10 red zone targets (Allen has 13, and nobody else has more than six). If I’m taking shots on a tight end, I’ll go with the guy who has the huge red zone role. Assuming both are healthy, I prefer Parham. If Everett misses, Parham becomes a much stronger play – last week he played 72% of the snaps and saw plenty of work outside the red zone with six targets. Stone Smart is also in play as a thin punt option – he’s seen three targets each of the last two games (including a game in which Everett played, at least for part of the game). He’s only caught one of them, but it went for a 51 yard touchdown – he’s a very thin option, but he’s in the pool.