What We Saw: Los Angeles Chargers vs Oakland Raiders

 

Los Angeles Chargers vs Oakland Raiders

 

Tonight’s game featured a team that is certainly going to be in Las Vegas for the 2020 season and a team that, according to owner Dean Spanos, is “[n]ot going to London” and plans “to be in L.A. for a long f——- time.”  Oakland’s defense controlled the early part of this game, but penalties nearly lost it for them. Oakland had two turnovers negated by offside penalties and added to their league-leading 81 penalties by committing 12 in this game.  The Chargers fought back after a dismal first two drives but were unable to stem Oakland’s comeback as L.A. fell by a final score of 26-24. The Chargers won the battle on paper by having more total yards (315 – 278), first downs (26 – 18), red zone TD percentage (75% to 50%), and time of possession (34:10 – 25:50) but lost the all-important turnover battle (3 – 0).  Here’s what I saw.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

 

Quarterbacks

 

  • Philip Rivers: 17/28, 207 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 5 sacks, 38 yards lost

Philip Rivers was outplayed by Oakland’s defense in the first half, constantly under duress on nearly every drop back and throwing a total of four INTs, of which two were nullified by Raider penalties.  Rivers’ first near-INT came when he forced a pass to a well-covered Keenan Allen which was tipped in the air by the defender and intercepted.  This was nullified was pass interference on the defender. Later in that drive, Rivers overthrew a wide-open Allen for an easy INT for Erik Harris.

On the Chargers’ second drive, Rivers was the unfortunate victim of Hunter Henry slipping at the top of his route, resulting in a pick-six for Harris.

Rivers was finally able to put a couple of scoring drives together but not before another couple of scares.  On the first TD drive for L.A., Rivers had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage that caromed high into the air and was nearly intercepted.  Henry then got open in the back of the end zone for a TD. On the next drive, Rivers threw another INT to Harris inside the 10-yard line that was nullified by offsides before Melvin Gordon was able to punch the ball in.

Following halftime, the going didn’t get any better for Rivers.  Oakland consistently got pressure rushing just four guys, which has to be a concern going forward for the Chargers.  It is worth noting Russell Okung left the game early, which may have contributed to the offensive line woes for L.A.  Rivers did manage to find Austin Ekeler or a crossing route for a TD to give the Chargers the lead momentarily, but did throw another interception of the final offensive play of the game for the team to ensure the defeat.

Rivers came into the game leading the NFL in passing yards (2,609) but was flustered early and often en route to his another subpar fantasy performance.  If the Chargers continue to struggle along the offensive line, Rivers is only startable as a low-end QB2 in leagues that allow for two QBs.

 

Running Backs

 

  • Melvin Gordon: 22 carries, 108 yards, 1 TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 25 yards
  • Austin Ekeler: 6 carries, 19 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, 1 TD

It was not uncommon to see both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler on the field at the same time throughout the game.  Ekeler was lined up in the slot when both were on the field, but Ekeler did see a good dose of action out of the backfield.

Gordon looked good carrying the ball in this game, gliding to the spot the play was designed to go and finishing runs.  Gordon showed nice power and leg drive on his short TD run as initial contact was made behind the line of scrimmage and Gordon ran through that tackle and finished in the end zone.  Gordon matched his season-high in touches (23) and recorded his first 100-yard game of the season in the losing effort. Due to sharing the backfield with Ekeler, it’s hard to trust Gordon as more than a mid-RB2, but he still has the upside to turn in RB1 numbers despite the reduced workload.

Ekeler had some nice plays and the offense didn’t miss a beat when Gordon was on the sideline.  Ekeler found a soft spot in Oakland’s coverage on his TD reception, working left to right across the field and finding the end zone untouched to salvage his fantasy day.  Going forward, Ekeler is best suited as a low-end RB3 or FLEX option as long as Gordon is a healthy participant.

 

Wide Receiver / Tight Ends

 

  • Keenan Allen: 11 targets, 8 receptions, 68 yards | 1 carry, 18 yards
  • Hunter Henry: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 30 yards, 1 TD
  • Mike Williams: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 55 yards
  • Andre Patton: 4 targets

When a quarterback is harassed like Rivers was in this game, it’s hard to cobble together a worthy fantasy performance as a receiver.  Despite that, Keenan Allen still saw a healthy 11 targets on the game, a good sign for his fantasy owners.  Rivers frequently looked to his long-time WR even when well-covered. Allen did have a 29-yard reception wiped away on a holding penalty but came right back with a 26-yard reception on the following play.  Allen extended his TD drought to seven games, and I noticed several plays within the red zone in which Allen wasn’t on the field. Allen carries mid-WR2 value based on volume with WR1 upside if positive TD regression comes his way.

A healthy Hunter Henry is a good thing for the Chargers and fantasy owners as the young TE put together another nice outing.  Henry benefited from a well-designed play to secure his TD grab as the Chargers ran an over/under combo to the right, confusing the LB in charge of covering Henry.  Henry slipped to the back corner of the end zone and was wide open for an easy pitch-and-catch from Rivers. Henry is a fringe TE1 with his secure role in this offense.

Mike Williams was mostly held in check in this game with his only notable play being a 45-yard reception down the middle of the field.  This was Williams’ worst game since the opener, so no need to hit the panic button just yet. Consider Williams a low-end WR3 with upside.

Rookie WR Andre Patton got his third consecutive start in this game and garnered four targets on the night.  Patton probably won’t have any fantasy relevance barring an injury to Allen or Williams, but might be a sneaky dynasty stash if you’ve got room to hold him.

 

Oakland Raiders

 

Quarterbacks

 

  • Derek Carr: 21/31, 218 yards, 1 TD, 3 sacks, 18 yards lost | 1 carry, 4 yards

Derek Carr has quietly been putting together one of his best years and he had another solid outing tonight.  Coming into this game, Carr had a career-best 71.2% completion percentage and was on pace for nearly a 4,000-yard season and 26 TDs.  Carr didn’t make any mistakes in this game and delivered a division win, pushing the team above .500 in the process.

Carr struggled with his deep accuracy in this game, missing both Tyrell Williams and Zay Jones on some deep throws early.  Carr’s short and intermediate passes were very accurate, with a couple of his incompletions the result of drops by his receivers.  Carr showed nice touch on his TD pass, finding FB Alec Ingold in the right flat.  Carr did miss Jones in the back corner of the end zone on the team’s first drive of the second half, but on review, it may have been a situation where it was a pass where his guy was going to get it or nobody was.

Carr is not going to be asked to fill up the stat sheet due to the offensive gameplan most weeks, but he can provide a spot start for fantasy owners in a pinch due to injuries or BYEs.  Consider him a mid-QB2 with upside.

 

Running Backs

 

  • Josh Jacobs: 16 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 30 yards
  • Jalen Richard: 2 carries, 0 yards | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 43 yards
  • DeAndre Washington: 1 carry, 0 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards
  • Alec Ingold: 1 carry, 3 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards, 1 TD

Josh Jacobs is quickly moving up the shortlist of Offensive Rookie of the Year names, if not atop it.  Jacobs once again shouldered the majority of the RB workload for Oakland, securing the victory with an 18-yard TD run in the closing minutes.  On that run, Oakland’s offensive line did a masterful job opening a hole and Jacobs used his vision and speed to burst through the opening and rumble into the end zone.  Earlier in the game, Jacobs showed off his vision and cutback ability on a couple of runs designed to go to one side but was well defended so Jacobs reversed field and turned a negative play into a gain.  Jacobs rarely gets caught behind the line of scrimmage and finishes runs well. Jacobs is right on the RB1 border based on volume alone but is a better fit as an RB2 because of his dip in usage in the passing game.

Both Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington saw time in this game, but Richard is the more valuable of the two for fantasy owners.  Richard is tasked with the majority of the work in obvious passing downs and in the hurry-up offense while Washington is used to spell Richard or Jacobs on occasion.  Richard carries minimal value in PPR leagues, maybe RB5 or so, while Washington will only be useful if those above him on the depth chart miss time.

Alec Ingold, Oakland’s fullback, got his first NFL reception and TD in this game.  On the play, Jacobs did a great job of picking up the blitzing LB to provide Carr enough time to get the pass into the hands of the rookie.  Ingold doesn’t present any fantasy value, but it was nice to see him get in the end zone for the first time.

 

Wide Receiver / Tight Ends

 

  • Tyrell Williams: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 25 yards
  • Darren Waller: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 40 yards
  • Hunter Renfrow: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 42 yards
  • Zay Jones: 3 targets, 1 reception, 10 yards

As evidenced above, Carr did a great job diversifying his targets in this game.  Unfortunately for fantasy owners, that led to disappointing games from all of Oakland’s receiving weapons.

Hunter Renfrow had the best fantasy night of the bunch and it could have been better had he been able to haul in that other target.  Renfrow had a step on his defender in the middle of the end zone as Carr fired the pass to him. Now, either Thomas Davis grazed the ball when he unseeingly flailed at the pass or created enough of a distraction to cause Renfrow to lose focus, but the potential TD fell harmlessly to the ground.  Renfrow has been a frequent target of Carr’s late in games and on third down, but that limited role keeps him from being better than a WR4 for fantasy purposes.

Darren Waller continues to be one of Carr’s favorite targets, and for good reason.  Heading into the game, Waller had the team lead in targets (60), receptions (48), receiving yards (548) and has an 80% catch rate.  Despite those numbers, Waller has now had three consecutive games in which he has failed to reach double-digits in fantasy points. In this game, Waller dropped a screen pass that appeared well-blocked and may have been a very big gain.  Waller still checks in as a low-end TE1 based on volume, but his recent outings have to be concerning for fantasy owners.

Tyrell Williams faced his former team for the first time and promptly had his worst game of the season.  In Williams’ defense, Oakland’s defense built a quick lead, therefore making the passing game less of a necessity.  Williams did have a couple of deep opportunities that Carr missed him on, so the poor stat line is not entirely on Williams. With the run-oriented offense the Raiders employ, it’s hard to justify Williams as anything more than a WR4 right now.

The latest addition to the Raiders receiving corps, Zay Jones, primarily is playing the role of deep specialist alongside Williams.  Jones, like Williams, did have a couple of opportunities go by the wayside due to the inaccuracy of Carr, one of which was in the end zone.  Still, Jones is too far down the pecking order to be fantasy relevant at this time.

–Bryan Sweet

(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire)

Bryan Sweet

Born in Michigan, but living in Tennessee. Long-suffering Lions fan. My first-ever NFL game was the Music City Miracle. Husband, father, banker, writer for QB List. Bitten by the fantasy bug in 1993 and been infected ever since. Go Blue!

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