Chargers @ Saints
This game started as a one-sided affair, as the Chargers took a 20-3 lead in the first half on the arm of rookie QB Justin Herbert‘s 3 passing TDs. After closing the gap to 20-10 at halftime, Saints’ QB Drew Brees led New Orleans all the way back to tie on their final drive in the fourth quarter. Herbert led the Chargers down to a 50-yard FG try at the end of regulation, but K Michael Badgley hit the upright, and the Saints took the win 30-27 in overtime. Both teams struggled to get their run game going, and we had a QB duel of contrasting styles for most of the game. And while Brees and the Saints won the game, Herbert definitely paid off more for his fantasy managers. Who else paid off, and who let their managers down? Let’s dive into what we saw.
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert: 20/34, 264 yards, 4 TDs | 4 carries, 8 yards
As mentioned in the intro, Chargers QB Justin Herbert threw for 3 TD passes in the first half, and he also added in a 4th in the 4th quarter on a 64-yard bomb to WR Mike Williams. Herbert looked in command of the offense in the red-zone, as all three of his first-half TDs occurred inside the 20. He also showed off his ability to escape the pocket and make throws on the run several times throughout the course of the game. It was Herbert’s best fantasy outing in the young season, and if he isn’t rostered in your league yet, he is definitely worth taking a waiver shot at if you need QB help. Herbert will likely keep his fantasy production rolling next week against the winless Jets.
Justin Jackson: 15 carries, 71 yards | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 23 yards
Joshua Kelley: 11 carries, 29 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards
If there’s only one thing that’s clear about the Chargers’ RB situation since RB Austin Ekeler‘s injury – it’s just not very good. Neither RB Justin Jackson nor RB Joshua Kelley were particularly effective against the Saints’ defense on Monday night, and neither has looked capable of replacing Ekeler’s production. Jackson and Kelley flip-flopped from last week, and Jackson led the snap share 59%-35%. Jackson also led in YPC and got significantly more work in the passing game, as he looked more explosive and elusive than the rookie running back. Kelley looked a bit slow and struggled to find holes for the most part. From this point on, I would say it’s safe to assume we’ll see similar splits – at least next week against the Jets. It appears that Los Angeles is waiting for one of these guys to step up and take over the number one role, and thus far it’s Jackson with a slight edge. That being said, it could potentially be a favorable matchup for both backs as the Jets have been bad so far against the run.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Mike Williams: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 109 yards, 2 TDs |
Keenan Allen: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, 1 TD
Jalen Guyton: 3 targets, 1 reception, 49 yards | 1 carry, -4 yards
Hunter Henry: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 23 yards, 1 TD
After Chargers’ WR Keenan Allen left the game in the first half with a sore back, WR Mike Williams stepped up and provided his biggest fantasy output of the season by far. Even Saints’ pro-bowl CB Marshon Lattimore couldn’t keep up with as Williams outran Lattimore for a huge 64-yard TD grab late in the 4th quarter. Williams consistently made contested catches and played with reckless abandon, and despite coming up just short on the final fourth-down play, Williams was the Chargers’ best pass-catcher by far. Allen was able to grab a 1st quarter TD reception before he left the game with an injury, which salvaged at least a respectable fantasy output.
TE Hunter Henry also rewarded his managers with his first TD of the season – although he was held to just 23 yards on the night. It was encouraging to see Henry return to his usual target-share – logging 8 targets after having only 4 last week against Tampa Bay. Henry’s usage was mostly confined to short-yardage crossing routes as a 3rd-down option against the Saints on Monday, which led to his modest yardage total. All of the Chargers’ pass-catchers should be in starting consideration in Week 6 against the winless Jets.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees: 33/47, 325 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT | 1 carry, 1 yard, 1 TD
Taysom Hill: 3 carries, 13 yards, 1 TD
After yet another slow start for QB Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense, they came to life in the second half and Brees was able to provide a decent outing for his managers on Monday night. It was Brees’ highest-volume game of the season thus far – hitting season highs in attempts, completions, and yardage. And while he only threw one TD against the Chargers, Brees added a rare rushing TD to bolster his performance on a quarterback sneak. This offense is noticeably continuing to struggle without all-pro WR Michael Thomas, so we should expect things to improve for Brees and the entire offense after their Week 6 bye. Brees continued to be reliant on the short pass for the most part, outside of a deep shot to his tight end for a touchdown.
Alvin Kamara: 11 carries, 45 yards | 10 targets, 8 receptions, 74 yards
Latavius Murray: 8 carries, 34 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards
As it was for the Chargers, it was a tough night on the ground for the Saints’ RBs as well. RB Alvin Kamara was held to his lowest rushing yardage total for the season, but his 8 grabs and 74 receiving yards salvaged a respectable fantasy outing. He made a contested catch down the sideline to spark a key drive and was used all over the field in the passing game. Kamara was also held without a rushing or receiving TD for the first time this season. Regardless, his passing game usage makes him an extremely high-floor player on a weekly basis. RB Latavius Murray failed to repeat his 2 TD performance from last week against Detroit and proved that his fantasy value is solely dependent on whether or not he finds the end zone. Kamara is still an elite fantasy option, even when he fails to find the end zone. His usage in the passing game may take a hit once WR Michael Thomas returns after the Saints’ Week 6 bye, so while that will be worth keeping an eye on, it won’t do anything to hurt his status as an elite RB option this season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Emmanuel Sanders: 14 targets, 12 receptions, 122 yards
Tre’Quan Smith: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 8 yards
Bennie Fowler: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 11 yards
Marquez Callaway: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 34 yards
Jared Cook: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 52 yards
Managers who have waited for WR Emmanuel Sanders to shine in WR Michael Thomas’ absence were finally rewarded on Monday night as Sanders notched season highs in targets, receptions, and receiving yardage against the Chargers on Monday night. Sanders failed to find the end-zone (just barely) but still proved that his chemistry with QB Drew Brees is continuing to improve week to week. Sanders had a touchdown near the end of the first half, but after video review, he was ruled down at the 1-yard line. Sanders finally looks like he is filling that go-to role of Michael Thomas, as he was the primary chain mover outside of Kamara.
WR Tre’Quan Smith had a disappointing, quiet night after his 2-TD performance last week against the Lions. He saw players like Bennie Fowler and Marquez Callaway taking snaps from him, as well as receiving more targets than him. Neither Fowler nor Callaway impressed with their targets, however. TE Jared Cook returned from a groin injury and found the end-zone on a key 41-yard pass from Brees in the 4th quarter where the safety was split between two defenders. Even if Cook can stay healthy, his usage is troubling and his fantasy output seems like it will be TD dependent moving forward.
(Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)