Kickoff: Sunday, November, 1:00 pm EST
Location: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Betting Odds: LAC -3 O/U 44 Total via PFF.com
Writer: Matt Prendergast (@amazingmattyp on X/Twitter)
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert (Start, QB1)
Let’s start the analysis of “The Battle of Two Teams That Refuse To Win” by noting that I just dig Justin Herbert‘s whole vibe. Of all the quarterbacks I’ve seen in my many, many years of watching the NFL, Herbert is absolutely number one on my list of “guys I might find myself standing behind at Taco Bell and end up talking to about how these guys effed up by getting rid of the Double Decker Taco.” Anyway, Herbert comes into Lambeau with a 17:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and coming off what was statistically his best performance of the year. Green Bay has some weaknesses in that secondary, with or without Jaire Alexander (who seems to be in the ‘without’ column a lot the last two years). The two rookie cornerbacks filling the next two slots on that depth chart just won’t have the same moderate success against Herbert as they did against Kenny Pickett last week. I liken it to the difference between stopping a bullet and a softball in my mind. Green Bay still has a formidable passing defense, even as youth-laden as it has become over the past month, but Herbert has the arm talent and mobility to overcome that, assuming the Chargers’ game plan doesn’t thwart him.
Austin Ekeler (Start, RB1), Josh Kelley (Sit, You’ve Still Got Him Rostered?)
I fully understand that we hadn’t seen a full-on ‘Ekelerish’ ground game from Austin Ekeler since September, and yes I know, there have been injuries, etc. Last week may have put those concerns in the dirt, finally. Ekeler has been in the endzone three times in the last two weeks and punched out 67 yards on the ground en route to 115 all-purpose yards against the Lions. He’s now coming up against a Green Bay run defense that, before facing Pittsburgh, had become almost a shut-down unit the previous two weeks…enough so that I went back in and downgraded both Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris in last week’s preview. That strong call was PROMPTLY rewarded by Warren putting up RB1 numbers AND Najee following close behind. In Ekeler’s case, he won’t be bothered by a pesky ‘legitimate competitor for his job’, and should roll into the locker room at the end of this with his first 100-yard outing in two months, garnished by at least one touchdown.
Meanwhile, Josh Kelley has settled nicely into the role most suited to his strongest skill, which is giving Austin a breather once in a while and then staying out of the way. He was a fun dream earlier in the year when Ek went down and we all thought we were about to catch lightning in a flex spot, but by now he should be available on your waiver wire, just sitting there and reminding you of what might have been.
Wide Receivers/ Tight End
Keenan Allen (Start, WR2), Quentin Johnston (Sit, Flex), Jalen Guyton (Sit), Gerald Everett/Donald Parham (Sit)
Keenan Allen has had a solid last month, and was a full-on league destroyer in last week’s loss to the Lions, dropping 175 and two touchdowns on unwitting fantasy opponents. All that said, Green Bay, despite fielding a very young secondary that seemingly runs on a combination of bravado and fruit snacks their moms put in their lunches, is a rougher matchup. Green Bay is allowing only 187.63 yards per game to opposing passing attacks. However, Allen is really the only consistent weapon Herbert has at the moment, and so he’s going to continue to be fed a ridiculous amount of volume: his last three games’ worth of targets have been 10, 9, and 14. Don’t expect the same monster performance he gave last week, but he’s still a must-start.
Jalen Guyton has participated in a total of two games this year, and while last week’s 4-6 for 41 yards was certainly an improvement from the previous week’s 0-for-2 for 0, he should be left snuggled up all warm and cozy on your waiver wire. While I like the future potential for Quentin Johnston, his rising snap share, and his red zone touchdown last week, his target volume just isn’t there yet to merit confident fantasy consideration. Until we see differently, this offense runs through Allen and Ekeler, and I expect that to continue this week.
I’ll sum up my feelings on Donald Parham with this statement: I’ve picked him up twice this year in emergency start situations, and in both cases placed a claim for a different tight end to replace him the next week while his games were still in progress. Statistically, he’s playing at the same level as Gerald Everett, which is suboptimal as Everett is also ‘not much to look at on a stat sheet’. If you are forced to choose between Chargers tight ends for this week, due to some bizarre confluence of fate and league rules, I would go with Antonio Gates. That’s the fun choice, especially if Kellen Winslow is nowhere to be found.
Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love (Start, QB2)
I’ve seen enough this year to be cool with Jordan Love running this team for at least the next couple of years. He’s not terrific yet, or even good some weeks, but there have been weekly improvements in his reads, decision-making, and overall performance. Last week’s two picks came on Green Bay’s two (how did they get a second shot at that anyway?) comeback-at-the-last-minute-drives, and one was strictly on Christian Watson delivering a perfect set to Keanu Neal. Love has a really good matchup this week against a hapless Chargers’ passing defense, but still, there’s a lot of miles Love and this team need to cover. He still hasn’t cracked 300 yards this year, and my bigger concern is if this game devolves into a shootout (which it very well could) Jordan still doesn’t have, shall we say, “long ball precision” just yet. He also doesn’t have a full set of receivers who are adept at the basic fundamental skills necessary for their job yet. I don’t know that I’ve ever advocated for a team to spread the ball around less, but here we are. If Head Coach Matt LaFleur and Love can just limit passes to, like, the three guys that catch them, I’d be bigger on his statistical chances this week. Until then, he’s not going to rate as a QB1 in this league.
Aaron Jones (Start, RB2), AJ Dillon (Sit, Flex)
So the Chargers have the 32nd-ranked defense coming into Week 11 but are actually not too shabby against the run – sitting at 12th and only allowing an average of 102 yards per game. What that means for an offense like the Packers’ run, where they will split the g&* d$#n carries NO MATTER WHAT IS HAPPENING OUT THERE RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES, LAFLEUR. Wait, where am I? Sorry, someone was mesmerized by A. J. Dillon‘s quads instead of focusing on personnel packages, and I’m not naming names. Anyway, Aaron Jones had 13 carries last week that he turned into a whole, entire 35 yards, and tacked an additional 19 yards onto his all-purpose total through 4 for 6 receiving. While I like him to improve those receiving numbers against the San Diego Lacklusters pass defense this week, don’t expect huge numbers out of the run side. It’s a tougher matchup there, and Green Bay will continue to disperse carries evenly between Jones and Dillon. Now, I am no longer vehemently opposed to AJ (his efforts and success have improved significantly over the past month), but that said, last week’s 81 all-purpose yards were greatly bolstered by one play:
📺: CBS pic.twitter.com/RGxirODttL
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 12, 2023
That was fun. It was also the best run of Dillon’s entire career, and you can SEE him run out of gas twenty yards into it, finishing the back half solely on momentum and self-belief. You take that away (‘but Matt, you CAN’T take it away! It’s a blargh-blargh garble garblepbllhhh’), and that’s an eight-for-thirty day with an additional eleven yards on one catch. He fits where the team needs him to fit now, and that’s great, but he’s not a worthwhile fantasy play.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Christian Watson (Sit), Romeo Doubs (Start, WR3), Jayden Reed (Start, WR2), Dontayvion Wicks (Sit, Flex) Luke Musgrave (Start, TE2)
So imagine scientists figured out a way to replicate the sun but in a compact form. Say it’s a sun the size of a basketball, or a volleyball, or a tiny chubby baby, perhaps: small, but with all the heat and fury of the actual sun. Now imagine these same scientists hurled this mini-sun directly at you, and it’s coming at you at approximately 45 to 55 miles per hour (72 to 88 kilometers per hour for our readers living life by the metric system). And this fastball orb of fire is directly headed to where your head-to-chest region will be in about a second or so. Kind of terrifying right? Well congratulations, because you’ve now emulated what I assume Christian Watson sees every single time a football is headed his way.
Last week, Watson led the team in targets (seven) and caught all of two balls, serving as the perfect set-up for the game-ending interception. Maybe Aaron Rodgers had some valid points last year regarding a couple of these guys, is all I’m saying. Anyway, of the many things that are looking improved over the last two weeks of the Packers’ season, Watson is absolutely not one of them, and he’s probably droppable if you still have him causing you imagine-the-possibilities angina weekly. DThe dudehas been certifiably terrible all year…when healthy. Or hurt. It hasn’t really mattered.
Jayden Reed, on the other hand, is taking advantage of being one of maybe two guys charged with catching balls weekly who doesn’t need to sit on Santa’s lap and ask for new hands and a sense of depth perception for the holidays. I’m pushing him up to a WR2 against this terribly permissive Chargers passing defense that is the worst in the league; they’re letting the opposition chalk up 291.2 yards in the air weekly on them.
Reed has gone over 80 yards in two of the last three outings, and caught 12 of his total 14 targets in the past three, only missing out on two against the Vikings in Week 8. This feels like it’s setting up for Jayden’s first huge “this is who we thought Christian Watson was going to be” outing, and I’m all in. Similarly, while Romeo Doubs also has a shaky catch-to-target frequency issue, I’ve watched all of these games, and Doubs isn’t missing so many of the ones that get to him directly. Again, this is a GREAT matchup, and Romeo has gotten into the endzone in three of the last four games. At a minimum, he should be in a flex spot for you.
Dontayvion Wicks still isn’t quite at the target level I’d like to see at even a flex start yet, but he’s put around fifty yards up in each of the last two games on seven catches (eight targets). He’s getting to be a bigger part of the offense, and with the decline of Watson in this year’s offense, Wicks may see an increase as the year progresses. I’d get him on a dynasty bench at the very least, and if you’re in a pinch due to the bye weeks, I don’t hate him in a flex against the Chargers. Luke Musgrave had another adequate outing against Pittsburgh, if you discount the end zone shot that bounced off his head into the stands. I don’t love the guy yet, and he’s not even close to a Top 12 option, but if you’re in a bind and don’t have high expectations, he’s serviceable.