Thursday Night Snow … I mean Showdown – Chargers Raiders – West Coast, Represent! – Week 15 Begins!

Tonight’s matchup between the LA Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders has the makings of a good old fashioned West Coast shootout. You have two teams that have not been able to stop anyone on Defense over the second half of the season, while their offenses are averaging 20+ points per game. I expect this game to go down to the wire with whoever shoots last winning and there may not be another prime time game left in this regular season that has the projected level of Fantasy Points scored that will match this one.

OR both offenses could fall on their faces and we could have a slow plodding low scoring game.

I prefer to choose the former of those two scenarios, don’t you? So let’s not waste any more time and let’s get into it. This game has a projected total of 52.5 points with the Chargers favored by 3. So if we follow what Las Vegas is seeing, the Raiders will be playing catchup. However, with the Chargers allowing over 346 Total Yards per game and an average of nearly 28 points, this again could be a back and forth shootout/slugfest. So I think it will be important to have exposure to both sides in your lineups. Therefore you will note my emphasis on ‘run backs’ for any stacks that I mention. Run Backs are players from the opposite team that by nature of them scoring fantasy points, it should in turn cause your stack to also continue to perform all game long.

For instance, if you had Stacked Lamar Jackson with JK Dobbins on Monday, running the stack back with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt would have won you some cash. If you happened to have also included Gus Edwards in your Ravens stack (making it a 3 man), you likely could have taken down a tournament. So again, run backs are often as important and vital to the success of your stack and your lineup.

The other thing that I will be highlighting is VALUE. There is Value available on this slate and good value at that. Especially on the Chargers side of the ball (more on that later) however I do expect a lot of the value to be chalky tonight. So if you get creative in your lineups you could end up with every player you most want and who you believe will most perform, with use of some of the value that will be available. That is what excites me more than anything about this game and this Showdown Slate.

My Captain/MVP Picks

The hottest news stories going into this game are coming out of the Chargers camp. Mike Williams is not expected to play and Keenan Allen is likely a game time decision where if he does suit up, he may be limited or on a pitch count. With Mike Williams out the expectation is that Tyron Johnson will see an expanded role. In week 14 with Williams leaving the game after 2 snaps, Johnson stepped in and played on 54 snaps and saw 7 targets, catching 6 of them for 55 yards and a touchdown. Draft Kings for once adapted their pricing for this circumstance with Johnson priced up to $7,500. He is actually cheaper on FanDuel by $1,000 so I don’t mind taking a flier on Johnson at MVP. However if Keenan Allen does sit or is limited, the expectation is that Jaylen Guyton will also see an expanded role and at $2,500 on DK I think taking a shot here on Guyton can really open things up for you either at Captain or in the Flex. Guyton hasn’t shown much lately as a WR3 or 4 – but he does have explosive play making ability which was on display in Week 7 against Jacksonville where he only needed 2 catches to go 84 yards and take one to the house. Of the two, I expect Johnson to be more popular based on the game log including Week 14 which also furthers my case for Guyton.

This brings me to my favorite Charger to target at Captain/MVP and that is Austin Ekeler. Since Ek has returned he has been on fire seeing 9 or more targets in his last 3 games coupled with 8 or more rushing attempts. Even if it is Guyton and Johnson running routes instead of Allen and Williams, I’d expect Ekeler’s target share to rise tonight and against the Raiders 29th ranked Run defense I think Ekeler will find room to run between the tackles and in the flats. I expect Ekeler to be popular but I think more people will gravitate to Justin Herbert at Captain/MVP. So you may see less ownership on Ekeler than you’d expect in the top spot and I’ll be happy to attack it. Ekeler is also carrying a Q tag heading into this game but he is expected to play. So fingers crossed he does.

Don’t get me wrong, Justin Herbert could be a smash play at Captain/MVP but if Keenan Allen does sit, I worry who Herbert is throwing to a little too much to play the pricey QB at Captain or MVP. Speaking of who he will be throwing to, I do like Hunter Henry at Captain/MVP tonight too. Henry has seen 7 or more targets in 9 of 13 games this season and much like what I said about Ekeler, even with Johnson and Guyton out there if Keenan Allen doesn’t play I think Herbert will lean on the players he has trusted most, one of which is his big Tight End, a little more than normal. The Raiders are coming in Top 10 against Tight Ends, so I do hope that the Chargers can catch the Raiders looking in the middle of the field with a heavy dose of Ekeler to help open up the play action passing games. Of the 3 normal starters that are likely to play (Ekeler, Herbert, Henry) I would expect Henry to have the least ownership – especially at Captain/MVP – which makes me like him even more in that spot tonight. It has also been multiple weeks since Henry hit pay dirt in the end zone and I do have to wonder without Herbert’s favorite red zone target Allen on the field, if Double H doesn’t get a looksie or two tonight.

On the Raiders side of the ball I think the most popular play over all will be Darren Waller. Waller the Baller has been (for lack of a better term) balling out this season – particularly lately. Over the last two weeks Waller has seen 17 and 10 targets respectively, accrued 275 yards and has 2 touchdowns. 200 of those yards and his touchdowns came in his 17 target game btw. Impressive. That being said Waller has traditionally underwhelmed in this matchup with the Chargers and has had some issue with their Cover 3 defense. So while I am sure he will see the targets, I am not convinced we are in store for another 17 target 200 and 2 game. For me the Raider I am most interested in at the top spot is Josh Jacobs. We all know that a healthy Jacobs in the Jon Gruden offense is a very active Jacobs and with the Chargers ranked 21st against the run and giving up an average of 120 yards on the ground, I think Jacobs could be the key to victory for the Raiders tonight. Additionally he has been banged up lately and now 100%, I think he is primed and ready to put on a performance. I especially like him on DK where he is $1,000 less than Waller and even though I am certain Jacobs will be an overall popular play, I think people will shy away from him at Captain due to the Raiders being the under dog (which would normally mean that they will lean on the passing game). But in both neutral and losing game scripts, Gruden has shown that Jacobs will be a big part of the game plan and I especially like Jacobs chances if they can get down to the goal line often tonight.

I do also have some interest in Derek Carr at Captain/MVP tonight. For some reason people just don’t like to play Derek Carr. I really don’t know what it is. Tonight though, I could see his ownership come in way under what it should be simply because he is the most expensive Raider on both sites. On DK he is $600 more expensive than Waller and on FanDuel he is a full $3,000 more expensive than Waller. I think he is worth it though. Carr is coming off of back to back 300 yard passing games and his attempts also have risen over the last 2 weeks to an average of 29 versus the rest of his season where his average was 24.5. Additionally I think Carr will have to play some catchup so we could see his attempts raise even further. The downside on Carr has been the interceptions where in his last two games he has 3. So that is a fear. On the Season the Chargers Defense has 8 interceptions with 3 on Matt Ryan just last week. So if Carr does get Chalky in ownership tonight, rolling out a team with the Chargers Defense could be a smart pivot that could pay dividends. But in general I don’t think Carr will see ownership even close to Herbert, especially at Captain – so that makes Carr a pivot as well that I will be taking advantage of.

I also do have interest in Nelson Agholor tonight at Captain. By hook or by crook, Agholor has become the #1 Wide Receiver for this Raiders team and while Henry Ruggs going on the Covid-19 list presumably will open up more opportunities for Hunter Renfrow or even Zay Jones or dare I say Brian Edwards, I think the ultimate beneficiary will be Agholor where he could see his targets go up. In 3 of his last 4 games Agholor has seen 9 or more targets and he is just coming off of his second 100 yard game of the season last week – where he also had a touchdown. Much like Carr I think people just don’t like to play Nelson Agholor and they will certainly not like playing him at over 11K on DraftKings and over 10K on FanDuel, so I think he could be a contrarian play at Captain or MVP.

Flex, Flex, Flex it Up

For Chargers teams I think I will be limiting my WR stacks with Herbert to 1, be it Thompson or Guyton as I don’t think both will have monster performances. I prefer Guyton due to his cheap price tag, but you can’t ignore the production Thompson had last week. I think using Ekeler in that stack is a smart play. As I mentioned I prefer Ekeler at Captain but even if you have Herbert at the top, due to his target share I think Ekeler should be a part of your stack. I also think a four man with Hunter Henry makes some sense. However the contrarian, dart throw, low owned play for me on the Chargers is Tight End 2 Donald Parham. A former XFL standout, Parham has been a pesky player for Season Long Hunter Henry owners with a couple touchdown grabs this season. Last week he even saw 4 targets, part of it having to do with Mike Willam’s exit early – but if both Williams and Allen miss, I could see Parham getting some extra targets tonight and maybe even a Red Zone look. I’ll have a few shots on Parham in my lineups tonight and if Hunter Henry gains in popularity, Parham makes for a cheap pivot. Only $300 on Draft Kings! Another name to mention is WR Joe Reed. Mainly a kick returner, he could see some extra snaps tonight with the injuries to the other wide receivers and as always I don’t mind a lineup with the kick returner stacked with the DST – just in case a kick return for a TD happens. Sneaky way to get double points on that TD. Reed is even cheaper that Parham on DK and makes for a suitable dart throw.

I also do not mind at all taking a shot on the Chargers Defense in the flex. Mainly because of Carr’s Interceptions – you never know what could happen. Sacks, Fumbles, INTs … oh my. By the way I should mention too if Ekeler sits or if his Q tag is never lifted and it seems like he will be limited, I think Kalen Ballage and Josh Kelley should find their way onto a lineup or two. Obviously if Ekeler sits, both guys become priority plays.

For Run Backs on Chargers stacks, my favorite is Jacobs but I think the popular approach will be trying to make Carr and Waller Work. So I’m leaning Jacobs and Waller or Jacobs and Agholor as a pivot. You can also go Carr and Jacobs as a 2 man mini stack as Jacobs does see targets, but I have to believe if a Chargers stack goes off with Herbert in it, it is because Jacobs is running roughshod and so I will try and capture that offensive production as much as I can.

For Raiders stacks, my favorite Captain is Jacobs but I do not have an issue using pass catchers with him. Waller will be Chalk of course, so if you chose to take a chance and leave him off and instead focus on Agholor and Carr, that could be a contrarian approach. I also will include 1 of Renfrow, Edwards or Zay Jones with Carr and Waller or Carr and Agholor as all 3 could be in line for a bigger role with Ruggs out. However I will (like with Herbert) limit my pass catchers to 2 paired with Carr as I do not think he will spread the ball around so much that more than Waller, Agholor and one of the other guys I mentioned ‘gets there’ for you. Building a lineup like Jacobs (Captain) Carr (Flex) Waller or Agholor (Flex) Renfrow or Zay or Edwards (Flex) could be a very contrarian build you could take advantage of. And my Donald Parham low owned cheap dart throw of the Raiders? Tight End Foster Moreau – who will be on the field mainly as a blocker but had 1 catch – a 47 yard pass from Carr that resulted in a Touchdown just a week ago. Who knows, with Ruggs out – maybe it will be the Raiders Tight Ends that dominate the targets tonight and at only $1,000 on DK, I’ll have at least one shot on Moreau in place of Waller…

I also think you are ok taking a shot on Jaylen Richard as well especially if you believe the Raiders are playing from behind. Richard the pass catching back is a favorite of Gruden’s (he pronounces it Reeeshard by the way) and if the Raiders are going pass heavy to catch up he will get some additional looks. With Jacobs back and healthy, I think you can leave Davantae Booker off your player pool as he will likely only get a few change of pace looks – but if you are a Booker Truther, than go right ahead and fire him up. I won’t be but more power to ya.

I also don’t hate taking a shot on the Raiders Defense either on a lineup or two either. It isn’t as if Herbert is averse to throwing a pick or two and the Silver and Black attack has surprised us a few times this season. Sacks, Fumbles, INTs – even safeties? It’s 2020, anything can happen and often does! I should mention the same thing I did with the Chargers. Renfrow and Edwards are returning kicks primarily with some Zay Jones sprinkled in. So a lineup with one of those guys stacked with the Raiders DST isn’t a bad thing to have when a kick or punt return happens…

I don’t have a ton of interest in Kickers on this slate as I do feel both offenses will be able to score touchdowns but I also don’t mind them as a run back on any stacked you build, I myself will limit that to one lineup for each kicker – but play as you feel, select who you want. DFS is nothing if not a ton of chances taken a lot of luck received, right?

Good Luck in your Contests!!

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