Kickoff: Sunday, November 6th, 2022, 1:00 PM ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Betting Odds: ATL +3, 49.5 o/u total via PFF.com
Writer: Dustin Ludke (@TheDunit13 on Twitter)
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert (Start, QB1)
Justin Herbert has been a slight letdown so far this fantasy season. He is currently QB13 on the year with twelve touchdowns and four interceptions. The Week 8 BYE probably came at the right time. The wide receivers have been banged up so getting them healthy will be key to Herbert’s success, and he will benefit from the extra week to plan for the Falcons. The other huge factor for Herbert this week is the matchup. The Falcons are giving up the fourth most points to quarterbacks at 20.88. Top corner A.J. Terrell is dealing with a hamstring injury and missed the Week 8 game. If he can’t make it back to face Herbert and the Chargers, then that would leave Darren Hall as the top corner, rating out at 75.2 in coverage according to PFF.com. It’s a great matchup for Herbert and with the extra week of rest and planning, and you can safely start him as a QB1. He has only been in that range in three out of the seven games he has played but has the potential to get there every week.
Austin Ekeler (Start, RB1), Sony Michel (Sit), Joshua Kelley (OUT, IR)
Austin Ekeler has been so good this year despite what the numbers say. He only has one game over 15 carries and only two games over 50 rushing yards. But what has been incredible for Ekeler has been his involvement in the passing game, as Ekeler is seeing on average 8.7 targets per game. We all knew he is a good pass-catching back, but he is seeing the most targets among RBs and 19th among all players. He has scored through the air in three of the last four games, which combined with his scoring on the ground, has catapulted him to the RB1 in PPR leagues. He gets a decent matchup going against the Falcons who are giving up the 14th most points to running backs at 23.09. Not the smash matchup but with his production and involvement, you can’t bench him. He is an RB1.
The Chargers have made a considerable effort to take some of the rushing work off of Ekeler’s plate and give it to others. They signed Sony Michel after he was cut by the Dolphins and have been rotating him in with Joshua Kelley. Kelley is now on IR so it looks like Isaiah Spiller will get in the game more. Michel has seen 33 carries on the season. He hasn’t played more than 25% of the team’s snaps except for Week 6. He and Spiller are not worth starting but are names on the roster for handcuff purposes.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Keenan Allen (Start if he plays, WR2), Mike Williams (OUT), Josh Palmer (Start, FLEX), Gerald Everett (Start, TE2) DeAndre Carter (Sit)
This could be one of the most injured position groups in all of football. Mike Williams is out for a few weeks with an ankle injury. It’s the latest in a list of growing injuries for the Chargers. Keenan Allen returned in Week 7 after leaving Week 1 with a hamstring injury. He played only 32% of the snaps in Week 7 so the BYE week was crucial for him to get fully healthy, but there are reports he re-aggravated his hamstring injury, leaving his status in doubt. With Williams being out, Allen needs to step up and take over as the target leader for this offense. The Falcons have a poor secondary and they are giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers at 46.62. We haven’t seen much from the 30-year-old receiver, but he has scored six or more touchdowns in the past five seasons. If active, he should be started as a solid WR2 given the matchup and his stepping up in the target void.
Josh Palmer has to clear the concussion protocol, but is expected to be back for this matchup. He has done well in the absence of one of the big two receivers. In Weeks 2 through 6, he played on average 80% of the team’s snaps and saw 36 targets over that stretch. He has had bigger games like Week 6 where he got 12 targets and caught nine of them for 57 yards. The volume should be there in Week 9. Top coverage should slide to Allen which will open Palmer up for targets, much as it did in Week 6 when Patrick Surtain II took away Mike Williams. Palmer should be slotted into your FLEX with WR2 upside. After Palmer, it’s DeAndre Carter who saw seven targets in Week 7, but he plays the same role as Allen, so he will be relegated to his normal sub 40% snap share if Allen comes back. In that case, he wouldn’t be worth starting.
Tight-end Gerald Everett has been a hit so far this season. He often went undrafted or in your last round. He has been a high-end TE1 four times this season and only outside of TE2 twice, as he is running routes on 91.1% of the passing plays instead of blocking. Being available for a pass from one of the best quarterbacks in the game makes Everett a solid option week in and week out, especially with Williams out. You can start him as a TE1. The cherry on top is that the Falcons are giving up the fourth most points to tight ends.
Marcus Mariota (Sit, QB2)
Who would have thought that Marcus Mariota would 1) still be the starting quarterback heading into Week 9 of the season and 2) he would be a top-10 quarterback on the season? Mariota has been playing very well. He has ten touchdowns on the year to six interceptions while completing 62.9% of his passes which is the 25th-best in the league. He isn’t in a high-volume offense. The Falcons are passing the ball on 42.3% of their plays which is the second fewest. What has made him so good this year is that he has three rushing touchdowns and 280 rushing yards on the year . He has also been very efficient with his passes. According to PlayerProfiler.com, he is fourth in air yards per attempt at 9.7 and fantasy points per dropback with 0.66. He gets the Chargers coming off a BYE, which isn’t the best matchup. The Bolts are middle of the pack at 17th giving up 15.91 points to quarterbacks. He will have to deal with a decent secondary that includes safety Derwin James. I still think you can start Mariota as a low-end QB1. With the Falcons defense not being able to stop anyone, he should see plenty of negative game script and his rushing gives him that upside.
Cordarrelle Patterson (Start, RB2), Caleb Huntley (Sit), Tyler Allgeier (Sit, FLEX)
The Falcons backfield has a ton of volume. They are rushing the ball on 57.6% of their snaps which is second most. They have 268 rushing attempts on the year. The question is who will get the bulk of the carries. Things might get more complicated this week and Cordarrelle Patterson could return against the Chargers. If Patterson is back, I expect that to impact Caleb Huntley the most. Despite averaging 11.5 carries per game, Huntley hasn’t played over 35% of the team’s snaps, and before the Week 4 injury to CPat, he wasn’t involved at all. Even if Patterson misses the game, it’s tough to start a guy playing that few snaps, and even when he gets carries haven’t been more than a FLEX play when he doesn’t score.
Rookie Tyler Allgeier has benefited the most from Patterson missing games. He has played 60% of the team’s snaps since the injury. He is averaging 14.5 carries per game. He hasn’t been super efficient on those carries, averaging only 3.19 yards per carry. He only has one touchdown on the season through seven games while Patterson has three in only four games. The Chargers are giving up the second most points to the running backs, so it’s a great matchup. If Patterson is back, I think you can start him as a solid RB2. He should see plenty of snaps, carries, and probably some targets. With Patterson back, I’m sitting Allgeier even though I think he can be a FLEX play. If Patterson misses the game, I’m firing up Allgeier as an RB2. He is playing plenty of snaps and getting carries. He isn’t involved in the passing game, but volume is there and with a good matchup, he should be able to produce.
Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends
Drake London (Start, WR3), Olamide Zaccheaus (Sit), Kyle Pitts (Start, TE1)
It’s just a two-horse race in the Atlanta receiving room. Guys like Damiere Byrd, Bryan Edwards, KhaDarel Hodge, and Parker Hesse aren’t worth rostering let alone starting. They are all touchdown-dependent plays who are playing on under 20% of snaps except for Hesse. Tight end Hesse is the only one out of the group who has run more than 50 routes on the season. Even with his 73 routes, Hesse is only running routes on 55.7% of his snaps.
You are probably questioning whether you should start tight end Kyle Pitts. Pitts scored his second touchdown on the year in Week 8, and it marks the second TD in three games. He probably should have scored in the Week 7 contest against the Bengals but was ruled down at the one-yard line. Had he gotten in on that play it would have given his owners the confidence to start him. The Chargers are 13th in giving up points to the tight end at 7.51 and 12th to wide receivers at 22.03. With Pitts playing only 27.7% of his snaps at the in-line position, he should be considered a wideout more than a tight end. This might play in his favor as he could see less Derwin James in coverage who is great at shutting down tight ends. Given what should have ben three straight weeks of scoring, I’m willing to start Pitts as a TE1 this week.
Rookie Drake London has been a letdown after his first three weeks when he was a star. He is still playing a high volume of snaps, being on the field for over 80% of the past two weeks. He might be a victim of both the lower passing volume and the fact that there isn’t much threat outside of him and Pitts. He has drawn top coverage every game and will continue to see that this week. He will either see Asante Samuel Jr. who rates at 62.5 in coverage, Michael Davis who rates at 59.1, or Bryce Callahan who rates at 74.3. Only one of those matchups is enticing so the Falcons will have to move London around to get the matchup they want and get the rookie involved. He is averaging 11.53 yards per catch. I think you can start him as a WR3 this week.