Kickoff: Sunday, January 9, 2022
Location: Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, Nevada
Betting Odds: LV +3, 50 Total on Vegas Insider
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert (Start, QB1)
The last time Justin Herbert did not finish as a QB1? Week 10. Simply put, Herbert has been on fire this season, and has established himself as one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL. His 89.4 PFF grade ranks third amongst all quarterbacks, as does his 4631 passing yards. In a game with the highest total of the week and the playoffs on the line, there truly isn’t any reason to bench Herbert. I’d feel comfortable labeling him as a top-five quarterback this week.
Austin Ekeler (Start, RB1), Justin Jackson (Sit, High-End RB4)
In his first game back from the COVID-19 list, we saw Austin Ekeler’s snap rate drop to 58%, while Justin Jackson mixed in with a 37.3% snap rate. That being said, he is still a featured part of the passing game, and, most importantly, is receiving all of the work in goal-to-go situations. Thus, his upside remains incredibly high on a weekly basis, and he’s a top-three running back once again. For what it’s worth, the Raiders are allowing the fifth-most points to running backs this week.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Keenan Allen (Start, WR1), Mike Williams (Start If You Must, WR3), Jalen Guyton (Sit), Josh Palmer (Sit), Jared Cook (Sit, TE2)
Remember when Mike Williams averaged 20 fantasy points per game over the first five games of the year? Since then, he has only scored double-digit fantasy points three times, making him more of a boom-or-bust WR3 moving forward. Instead, with 8+ targets in eight of the past nine games, in addition to just one finish outside the top-21 in that span, it’s Keenan Allen who has continued to serve as the ol’ reliable high-floor WR1. Against a susceptible Raiders defense, he’s a plug-and-play option and someone to consider as your captain in daily fantasy showdown matchups.
Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr (Sit, QB2)
Although he ranks fourth in passing yards this season, Derek Carr has certainly underwhelmed in terms of fantasy production as of late. Over his past five games, Carr has averaged just 12.5 points per game, hasn’t finished higher than QB18, and hasn’t eclipsed 300 passing yards in any of those games. Facing a run-funnel Chargers defense, I’d expect Las Vegas to adopt a more run-heavy approach, even further limiting Carr’s fantasy ceiling.
Josh Jacobs (Start, High-End RB2)
The Chargers rank in the bottom-five in both rush attempts allowed/game and rushing yards allowed/attempt, setting up the stage for a very productive fantasy showing from Josh Jacobs. Peyton Barber and Jalen Richard have cut into his opportunities, but he still is the clear lead back of this backfield; he’s still receiving three-down work. Now, the Raiders offense is limited, and Jacobs hasn’t finished higher than as the RB16 over the past month. That being said, the betting markets expect them to score points here, and the matchup is quite strong. I’d feel comfortable starting him this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Hunter Renfrow (Start, WR2), Zay Jones (Sit, High-End WR4), Bryan Edwards (Sit), Darren Waller (Start, TE1)
With the return of tight end Darren Waller, it’s unclear what the Raiders passing game will look like. Waller was averaging over eight targets per game over his past three full games, and most of the passing volume has shifted to Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow rebounded from two middling performances to finish as the WR8 of the week, and he’s received an end-zone target in each of the past four games. Thus, his floor remains really high. You’re starting Renfrow and Waller if you have them, but for Bay Jones, that’s a closer call. Over the past three games, Jones has finished as a top-20 wide receiver twice, and he’s averaging 8.67 targets during that span. That being said, his air yards don’t always translate into actual production, making him more of a boom-or-bust option. In daily fantasy lineups, he’s someone you could consider inserting in, but for season-long leagues, I’d still look elsewhere.
All Stats via Pro Football Focus