What We Saw: Raiders at Chargers

The gang wins a "home" game

Raiders @ Chargers

Final Score: Chargers 28, Raiders 14

Writer: Corey Saucier (@Deputy_Commish on Twitter, /u/Lights_Kamara_Action on Reddit)

 

Monday night was all about Chargers’ RB Austin Ekeler‘s continuing emergence as a top-tier RB early in this 2021 fantasy season. Ekeler took a big shot and was attended to by trainers on the Chargers’ sideline for a handful of plays during the Chargers’ opening drive, but ultimately he came back in for L.A.’s first TD of the night to TE Donald Parham Jr. Ekeler would finish with his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season and also his first multi-TD performance of the season, as well. The Chargers struck first on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead, and then the defenses stole the spotlight for a solid stretch in the first half. Both teams combined for 9 consecutive possessions that ended in either a punt or turnover-on-downs stretching roughly 15 minutes of game clock in the first and second quarters. The Chargers broke the scoring drought first with this 10-yard dime from QB Justin Herbert to TE Jared Cook:

 

 

The high-flying Raiders’ offense was anything but in the first half. They were able to score TDs on both of their first two second-half possessions, but Ekeler put the game away for good with this 11-yard kiss goodnight:

 

 

Las Vegas Raiders

 

Quarterbacks

 

Derek Carr: 21/34, 196 yards, 2 TD, INT | 3 carries, 6 yards

 

To put it kindly, QB Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense absolutely stunk it up in the first half. Las Vegas went 3-and-out on their first three possessions, they finished the first quarter with zero total yards, and they had just one first down throughout the entire half. Carr was pressured for most of the night by DE Joey Bosa and the rest of the Chargers’ defense, and his accuracy with the deep passing game struggled as a result. Both of Carr’s TD passes came in the 3rd quarter, but combined with throwing a pick and low passing yardage volume, hopefully, Carr was nowhere near your fantasy lineup on Monday night. However, this was an absolute dime to TE Darren Waller just before the end of the third quarter:

 

 

Running Backs

 

Josh Jacobs: 13 carries, 40 yards | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 17 yards

Kenyan Drake: 1 carry, 2 yards

 

The Raiders’ rushing attack was basically non-existent on Monday night against the Chargers. RB Josh Jacobs returned from a 2-game absence while nursing an ankle injury but was ineffective against a tough Los Angeles defensive front. While the Raiders fell behind early and went away from the run game, Jacobs tallying 18 total touches was a positive sign about his health, and his five targets and five receptions were both super encouraging as well. As for the rest of Las Vegas’ RBs, Kenyan Drake and Peyton Barber both mustered only one touch apiece. Barber was hurt on his lone touch early in the game and didn’t return.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Henry Ruggs III: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 60 yards

Darren Waller: 7 targets, 4 reception, 50 yards, TD

Hunter Renfrow: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 45 yards, TD

Bryan Edwards: 4 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards

 

TE Darren Waller didn’t exactly light the world on fire on Monday night, but snagging his first TD since Week 1 felt like a mini-bounceback in itself. Waller has been targeted seven times for three consecutive weeks after an insane 19 targets in Week 1, but for the first time this season, Waller did not lead the Raiders in targets. Who in the world could possibly command more targets in this Las Vegas offense than Darren Waller, you ask? That man was WR Hunter Renfrow. What if I told you that Renfrow’s best play of the night wasn’t his TD catch, but a special teams tackle, instead? Los Angeles ran a handful of trick plays on the night against the Raiders, and one of them was a fake punt. Check out the play from Renfrow to break up the pass and force a turnover-on-downs:

 

 

This guy obviously just loves the game of football and is so much fun to watch. Speaking of the guy who plays WR, Renfrow has now outscored Waller in PPR for the second consecutive week and also scored a TD in two straight weeks, as well. Renfrow was actually targeted in the end-zone on the same red-zone trip where Waller ultimately scored. Check out this beautiful ‘China’ route (as referred to by MNF’s Brian Griese) by Renfrow, which is basically a triple-move:

 

 

Renfrow scored a TD last week on a nearly identical route against top Dolphins’ CB Xavien Howard. Renfrow is quietly working his way from Flex territory into WR2 territory, and nobody is really noticing. He doesn’t have a ton of big-play potential, but he appears to have carved out a formidable fantasy workload in a high-powered offense. WRs Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards were the biggest victims of Carr’s underwhelming passing night. Ruggs connected with Carr for a 51-yard bomb late in the game to salvage a decent fantasy output. Ruggs also drew a 46-yard pass interference penalty late in the 3rd quarter.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

 

Quarterback

 

Justin Herbert: 25/38, 222 yards, 3 TD

 

 

After leading the Chargers to victory last week over QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Kansas City and now beating the Raiders at home on Monday night, Justin Herbert is leading the Chargers’ offense into the 2021 NFL season as a force to be reckoned with. That being said, Herbert’s impressive start to the season hasn’t really translated to the fantasy football field as of yet. Herbert came into this week as the QB22 overall, behind some surprising characters such as Sam DarnoldDaniel Jones, and Taylor Heinecke – and even with a 3 TD performance on Monday night, Herbert’s modest yardage output kept his ceiling at bay. Another trend we’ve seen with Herbert this season is his complete lack of involvement in the running game. That can be at least partially explained by Los Angeles adding former Saints’ QB coach Joe Lombardi as their offensive coordinator – coaching Drew Brees in a Sean Payton offense wouldn’t necessarily inspire one to design running plays for your QB. None of this is to knock on Herbert – the guy clearly has all the talent in the world. A huge breakout fantasy performance from Herbert is on the horizon – even with some tough defenses on the horizon.

 

Running Backs

 

Austin Ekeler: 15 carries, 117 yards, TD | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 28 yards, TD

Larry Rountree III: 11 carries, 31 yards

Justin Jackson: 3 carries, -4 yards | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 17 yards

 

As mentioned in the opener, Chargers’ RB Austin Ekeler was an absolute nightmare for the Raiders’ defense on Monday night, right from the get-go. Ekeler’s 145 total yards were his most so far this season, and his fantasy production has increased in each outing thus far. Ekeler has a tough matchup next week against the Browns, but the Raiders had also been a headache for fantasy RBs to this point in the season. Chargers’ backup RB Larry Rountree III took most of his 11 carries in the 3rd quarter to spell Ekeler to be fresh for the 4th. Neither Rountree nor fellow backup RB Justin Jackson seems to be much of a threat to Ekeler’s workload.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Keenan Allen: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 36 yards

Mike Williams: 4 targets, 1 reception, 11 yards

Jared Cook: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 70 yards, TD

Donald Parham Jr.: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards, TD

Jalen Guyton: 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards |2 carries, 20 yards

 

With Ekeler and the run game leading the way, the WR group for the Chargers suffered the most of all from a fantasy production standpoint. WR Keenan Allen saw double-digit targets for the third time this season, but could only turn them into seven catches for 36 yards. Even with a dud fantasy night, Allen tied WRs Julio Jones and Antonio Brown for the fastest wide receivers to reach 650 career catches (all three crossed this mark in career game 104). WR Mike Williams has been one of the biggest fantasy darlings to this point in the season, so I can imagine that his one catch for 11 yards probably stung a lot of managers who recently traded for him. No, tonight was all about the TEs in Los Angeles. Jared Cook had his best fantasy output of the year by far while bringing in a season-high in catches and yardage, while also finding the end-zone for the first time. TE Donald Parham Jr. also added his second and third receptions of the season, including his first TD of the year as well. Before Monday night, Justin Herbert and the Chargers’ offense had zero TD passes to TEs, so they were making up for lost time on Monday night. It will be interesting to see whether or not Cook can maintain enough volume to try to establish some more fantasy relevancy this season.

 

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.