Kickoff: Sunday, October 31st at 4:05 PM ET
Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California
Betting Odds: LAC, -5, 49.0 Total on Vegas Insider
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert (Start)
New England’s defense has been one of the best in the league at preventing touchdowns this season, but they’ve given up plenty of yards both on the ground and through the air. We saw this first hand when Dallas came to town and accumulated over 500 yards of total offense. While teams haven’t had much trouble pushing the ball downfield against the Patriots, they do a good job of clamping down in the red zone and holding teams to field goals. Is that sustainable? Only time will tell, but they’ll have their work cut out for them against Justin Herbert and his flurry of playmakers. And work will get even more difficult moving forward without starting cornerback Jonathan Jones, who was placed on IR and will miss the rest of the season. Cornerback was already a weak position for New England so this will further strain that corps and put both Jalen Mills and Joejuan Williams in more important roles (two players who have not been good this season).
With all of that said, Herbert should have plenty of opportunities to sling the ball around against this defense. He’ll be under constant pressure by Matthew Judon all game long, but as long as he’s able to get the ball out quick he should have no problem having success. His ability to scramble out of the pocket and make an accurate throw will also be an asset that could give New England fits. Do I expect a 30 point performance out of Herbert this week? No. I think he’s likely going to end up in the low 20s as I do think New England will get a few stops, but multiple touchdowns and 300 yards is attainable. Start him with confidence.
Austin Ekeler (Start, RB1)
Austin Ekeler has double-digit carries in four of six games this season, but nobody drafts him strictly for his rushing ability. It’s all about the catches baby, and if the Chargers are smart Ekeler will be heavily featured this week. Running backs have had success through the air against this defense and I would expect more of the same from Ekeler.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Keenan Allen (Start, WR2), Mike Williams (Start, WR1), Jalen Guyton (Sit), Jared Cook (Start)
As a Patriots fan, the thought of Jalen Mills covering Keenan Allen scares the crap out of me. I really hope that’s not the case, though I’m not sure I want him covering Mike Williams either. What I think is most likely is we see J.C. Jackson, their preeminent shutdown corner, shadowing Allen while Joejuan Williams shadows Mike Williams with help over the top. Joejuan has had a brutal career to this point after being drafted as a second-round pick a few years ago, and while he has size and speed he simply doesn’t react well to what’s in front of him.
Williams had a knee injury prior to the bye week, but it sounds like he took that time to rest up and let it heal. Williams is primed for a big day against this defense and he’s the WR I would start in this offense if I had to choose one. If Allen is indeed shadowed by Jackson, I would temper expectations because Jackson is a playmaker and we may see Justin Herbert look at other options more often as a result. We’ve seen Allen put up some duds in between his monster weeks in recent years and this could be one of them. If you’ve got him you should still start him, but don’t be surprised if he scores somewhere between 5-15 points in PPR.
New England Patriots
Mac Jones (Sit)
Here’s what we know about Mac Jones. He’s going to take the open look no matter what, and we’re still not quite sure if that’s his decision or the coaching staff’s decision. The high completion percentage, low-risk approach is good for putting the football team in a position to win, but it’s not so good for a fantasy football team.
There are some in the local sports media world who question Mac’s arm and his ability to throw the ball downfield (cough MIKE FELGER cough), but I’m here to tell you that the doubters are wrong and Mac’s arm is an NFL arm. How do I know? This is the QB List difference, ladies and gentlemen. Insight you won’t get anywhere else. I spoke with an actual Alabama fan, from Alabama, just this morning. And he says Mac is special and will be one of the best QBs in the league within the next few leagues. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.
All jokes aside, Mac is still developing as both an NFL player and as a leader for this team. He’s not going to wow you, at least not yet, and his ceiling is limited by the type of offense this team currently runs. In a week with only two teams on bye, you can likely do better than Mac Jones in Week 8.
Damien Harris (Start, RB1), Rhamondre Stevenson (Sit), Brandon Bolden (Sit), J.J. Taylor (Sit)
Damien Harris is an angry runner who hits a hole hard and requires multiple defenders to drag him down. Los Angeles has been rough against RBs this year, so this is a great matchup for Harris to exploit. He’s been one of the best fantasy values this season and that trend should continue this week.
The revolving door of backs behind him is inconsistent at best, and I honestly wouldn’t recommend stashing any of them. Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor have both been inactive every other week and it seems like their inclusion on the active roster is matchup dependent. Who will be active this week? I couldn’t tell you, but stay away from them. As for Brandon Bolden, the career special teamer who caught six passes and a touchdown last week, he’s not worth it either. Last week was an aberration. He’s not a very talented playmaker and when he gets the ball on the ground he runs until he gets touched and then he stops dead in his tracks. If you don’t have Harris, stay away from this backfield.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Jakobi Meyers (Start, FLEX), Nelson Agholor (Sit), Kendrick Bourne (Sit), Hunter Henry (Start), Jonnu Smith (Sit)
I don’t really like any of New England’s receiving options for fantasy besides Hunter Henry. He’s caught a touchdown each of the past four weeks and he’s clearly developing a rapport with Mac Jones. There’s been a lot of talk around Kendrick Bourne in these parts lately thanks to the big plays he’s made, but the volume hasn’t been there yet for him to be a fantasy asset. I’d like to see them get him the ball more often, and he’s on track to be fantasy-relevant at some point this season. I’m just not ready to recommend him quite yet.
I think this is it. This is the week. This is finally when Jakobi Meyers will score his first career receiving touchdown. He’s been close the last few weeks and it hasn’t come through yet, but he is SO due. Let’s all just root for this to happen collectively and reap the rewards when it finally does.
All Stats via Pro Football Focus