Kickoff: Monday, October 12th, 8:15 PM ET
Location: Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Betting Odds: NO -7.5, 52 total via Oddsshark
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert (Start, QB2)
After his surprise first career start in Week 2, Justin Herbert has actually been pretty good. In the last three weeks, Herbert is actually QB12 for fantasy purposes, which makes him a *gasp* QB1. Pair that success with the fact that the Chargers offensive line does a good job of protecting Herbert and there’s a pretty clear road to success for the young signal-caller. On top of that, the Saints have allowed the 7th most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season, so Herbert actually shapes up to be a solid option this week. The Saints were without starting corners Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins last week but Detroit didn’t really take advantage of it but keep an eye on their statuses this week because this could be a good matchup to exploit. Herbert is a solid QB2 with low-end QB1 upside this week.
Joshua Kelley (Sit, Flex), Justin Jackson (Sit)
After an injury to Austin Ekeler last week that should keep him out for the foreseeable future, this backfield is truly a toss-up this week in New Orleans. Joshua Kelley has played on nearly 30% more snaps this season than Justin Jackson, but after Ekeler’s injury last week they were both used about the same. The Chargers are ranked in the bottom half of run defenses according to Football Outsiders, and New Orleans is in the middle of the pack as far as run defenses go, so the matchup doesn’t really scream “START YOUR CHARGERS RUNNING BACKS!” If I absolutely had to pick between the two, I’d say Kelley based on the higher snap share so far this season, but it will likely be the dreaded RBBC approach this week so he ceiling is certainly capped. I would stash them both just to see what comes out of this situation this week, but I wouldn’t recommend starting either of them as anything more than a flex option this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Keenan Allen (Start, WR2), Mike Williams (Sit), Hunter Henry (Start, TE2)
New Orleans has allowed the 8th fewest fantasy points to WRs, but as I mentioned in the Herbert blurb they are walking wounded. Keenan Allen is a must-start in all formats and I would be surprised if he didn’t get at least 10 targets. He’s a solid WR2 with plenty of upside. Mike Williams missed Week 4 with a hamstring injury and as of Tuesday, there is no update on his status for Week 5. His 14 targets on the season are fourth on the team – Austin Ekeler has 17, Hunter Henry has 26, and Keenan Allen has a whopping 49. When Williams is on the field he’s a deep threat at best who will catch an occasional long ball, but his lack of consistency and injury history makes him tough to even roster at this point. I’m staying far, far away from Williams this week.
Hunter Henry is averaging just under 7 targets per game but he’s yet to find the end zone on the year. I like his chances to get in the end zone this week against a New Orleans team that has allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to tight ends so far this season. There are better options out there, but Henry should be serviceable this week.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees (Start, QB2)
Los Angeles is vulnerable through the air and they’ve allowed the 5th most fantasy points against QBs this season. Drew Brees has the fourth-lowest aDOT among qualified QBs this season at 3.4, and that’s largely because just under half of his attempts have been to running backs since Michael Thomas went down with his injury. Despite sustaining a few injuries on the offensive line, New Orleans’ offensive line still ranks 4th in adjusted sack rate per Football Outsiders, so they should be able to handle the Charger’s pass rush. That pass rush, led by Joey Bosa and his three sacks, has been pretty lackluster outside of Bosa so he will be the key in this one. Brees gets the ball out of his hand so quickly that Bosa and friends may not even have time to get upfield and touch Brees on most plays, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the Saints.
If Thomas returns this week as expected, Brees should return to his QB1 status. If Thomas remains out, Brees probably remains a QB2 this week as he has been all season. I have him as a QB2 just to be safe, but keep an eye on the Thomas situation and adjust accordingly.
Alvin Kamara (Start, RB1), Latavius Murray (Sit)
Alvin Kamara is an easy RB1 in any game, except maybe against Tampa Bay and their stout run defense. This game is no exception, especially considering the hot streak Kamara is on while Michael Thomas has been on the shelf. He’s been a PPR machine and that should continue this week.
Latavius Murray popped off with a huge Week 4, largely due to the two touchdowns he scored on the ground. The talent is obviously there but the opportunities are not consistent. He remains a risky start that is best suited as a stash on your bench.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Michael Thomas (Start, WR1), Emmanuel Sanders (Start, WR3), Tre’ Quan Smith (Sit), Jared Cook (Sit)
Obviously, if Michael Thomas is healthy he slots back in as the #1 WR in fantasy. Keep an eye on him but start him if he’s playing. Emmanuel Sanders received nine targets in Week 4 and caught six of them, but he was only able to translate them into 9.3 fantasy points. Tre’Quan Smith played on 100% of the snaps last week and scored two touchdowns, but he only received four targets. The pecking order for targets in this offense appears to be Thomas, Kamara, Sanders, and then Smith, so Smith isn’t worth starting with Thomas back and Sanders is a borderline WR3 who we can only hope gets better with less attention focused on him.
Jared Cook has only received 15 targets in three games, and he missed last week with a groin injury. Keep an eye on his status to see if he suits up this week, but even if he does he simply isn’t being utilized often enough to warrant consideration in fantasy.
-Ben Brown (@FelixTheDog23 on Twitter, iamatechnician on Reddit)