Carolina Panthers @ Los Angles Chargers
In a game where the Chargers outgained the Panthers by 134 total yards and ran 23 more plays, it was their -4 turnover differential that cost them a win. The Panthers benefitted from short fields off of turnovers and held the lead all game, and mainly asked Teddy Bridgewater to play game manager. In the end, Justin Herbert looked impressive for the second straight week and nearly rallied the Chargers to a dramatic win. The Chargers had a hook and lateral play set up perfectly on the final play, but the toss from Keenan Allen to Austin Ekeler was just off, and the Chargers lost to Carolina 21-16. In a closely fought game, there were plenty of fantasy stars in this one.
Teddy Bridgewater: 22/28, 235 yards, 1 TD | 2 carries, 12 yards
Against a tough defense in Los Angeles, Teddy Bridgewater made the plays that he needed to make and took care of the ball as he did not turn the ball over and was sacked just twice. Carolina did a good job containing the Chargers’ pressure and getting the ball out of Bridgewater’s hands quickly. He checked down more than you would like to see, and he will be disappointing from a fantasy perspective when they have a lead like they did today. Bridgewater had a couple of nice passes to D.J. Moore, with a shot down the sideline and a nice pass late with touch on a crosser. Bridgewater will have some better fantasy games when they trail against bad defenses, but for the most part he is more of a trustworthy QB2-type for superflex leagues.
Mike Davis: 13 carries, 46 yards | 9 targets, 8 receptions, 45 yards, 1 TD
Reggie Bonnafon: 2 carries, 16 yards
Mike Davis came through for fantasy owners reeling from the Christian McCaffrey injury, and looked like a solid fantasy contributor going forward. Bridgewater constantly checked down to Davis in the passing game, and his eight receptions are a massive boost in PPR leagues. Davis broke tackles and made the plays he needed to, and while he isn’t nearly as explosive as McCaffrey, he did a pretty decent imitation of the star running back. An illegal formation by the Chargers on a Panthers field goal gave them a second life to set up his touchdown, and Davis may have even better days ahead against easier defenses. Davis took 77% of the snaps, and while Reggie Bonnafon was the next man up at running back, he was an afterthought, with Curtis Samuel receiving more carries than Bonnafon. Davis will be an attractive RB2 over the next two weeks with matchups against the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons.
Mike Davis played 77% of the snaps, had 13 carries and a team-high 9 targets and 8 catches.
Finished with 91 yards and a TD. He’s clearly the RB to use here until CMC is back. He’s an RB2 for me moving forward
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) September 27, 2020
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
D.J. Moore: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 65 yards
Robby Anderson: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 55 yards
Curtis Samuel: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 7 yards | 4 carries, 7 yards
Seth Roberts: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards
Ian Thomas: 2 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards
The first thing that most fantasy managers will ask when looking at this box score is, what happened to D.J. Moore? As the Panthers played from ahead, they only attempted 28 passes on the day. Moore drew the tough coverage of Chris Harris Jr. and Carolina found success with other options, and Moore had just one target at the half. They tried to get him the ball out of the half on their first play but a drop on a slightly off-target throw landed incomplete. They finally got Moore a 38-yard reception down the sideline at the end of 3rd quarter for his first catch, and he had an important first down catch in the fourth quarter. It is a bit worrisome for Moore as Bridgewater has found a connection with Robby Anderson, but Moore will have better days ahead. It isn’t likely to be a frequent occurrence where the Panthers win the turnover battle 4-0 and hold the lead all game.
Speaking of Anderson, it was a more encouraging game than his stat line would suggest. Against a tough Chargers defense, he actually was the most reliable target and was succeeding on crossers as opposed to his typical deep ball. If he can manage performances like this in the games where he doesn’t connect on the deep pass, he will be a weekly starter on most fantasy rosters as a WR3. Anderson will be an appealing option the next two weeks against the Cardinals and Falcons.
Curtis Samuel actually saw eight touches in this one, but they were close to the line and only produced 14 total yards. For all of the talk of him being a capable runner out of the backfield, he did see four carries, but he didn’t produce much with those chances. We’d rather see Samuel getting passes than rushes since passing is typically more efficient than running, and we get a bonus for receptions in PPR leagues. While it is nice to see him involved in the running game, his role in the passing game is disappointing, and he has been clearly surpassed by Anderson.
The rest of the pass-catchers were nearly non-existent, and I barely noticed that Ian Thomas was on the field. He’s off the fantasy radar through three weeks.
Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert: 35/49, 330 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 sacks, 1 fumble lost | 3 carries, 15 yards
It was another impressive week for the rookie Justin Herbert, as only turnovers derailed this offense from scoring more points. Herbert looked solid in the pocket and did a good job climbing it when pressured. He had a pick to end the half when he forced it late and behind Keenan Allen, and he didn’t sense pressure a few times, resulting in a fumble and a near-fumble. He later threw a near-interception on a tipped pass and almost threw another pick on an undercut crosser. Despite the miscues, they were all typical rookie mistakes, and he very much looks like he belongs in the NFL. Herbert had an excellent fourth-quarter touchdown to Allen as he avoided pressure. On the final drive, he took some shots and had an injury scare, but came back and seemed to start checking down to running backs more in order to move the chains. He has a tough road ahead against the Buccaneers and Saints, but after that, the schedule lightens up, and he should be firmly on the streaming radar.
Austin Ekeler: 12 carries, 59 yards, 1 TD | 11 targets, 11 receptions, 84 yards
Joshua Kelley: 8 carries, 43 yards, 1 fumble lost | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 9 yards
The Chargers running backs have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the change at quarterback from Tyrod Taylor to Herbert, and Ekeler again looks like a true RB1. His 11 targets were everything that we hope for in fantasy football, and the Chargers ran several well-designed screens to him. Herbert really started checking down to him while trailing, and Ekeler was dependable in catching every pass. His rushing touchdown was a really nice effort as well, as he juked and broke a tackle and broke out wide for the score. The Chargers still clearly want to be a run-heavy team, so we may see a little less passing game work when they have a lead most of the way. But he has clearly emerged from the disappointing Week 1 when Taylor was under center, and you would have to think that Herbert has now shown enough to warrant the starting job going forward.
Joshua Kelley didn’t eat like many of us hoped this week, but much of that can be credited to the Chargers playing from behind throughout. His fumble didn’t help matters, though he was awfully close to being down, but Anthony Lynn still used him afterward so he should be in good standing going forward. Kelley will be game script dependent but is still a valuable piece of this offense, and if anything were to ever happen to Ekeler he could be a force, so hang on to Kelley despite this down game.
#Chargers Week 3 RB Usage
– Austin Ekeler, 73% snaps, 12 carries, 11 targets (11 catches, TD)
– Joshua Kelley, 27% snaps, 8 carries, 2 targets
Ekeler has had 20+ touches in every game this season. He’s gone for 140+ yards in two straight
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) September 27, 2020
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Keenan Allen: 19 targets, 13 receptions, 132 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble
Mike Williams: 1 target, 1 reception, 17 yards
Hunter Henry: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 50 yards
Jalen Guyton: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards
K.J. Hill: 4 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards
Keenan Allen took over as Herbert’s favorite receiver and looked like the Allen of old, drawing a ridiculous 19 targets. He certainly benefitted from the Chargers trailing, but he is clearly the preferred option alongside of Ekeler. As long as Herbert is the starter, Allen’s stock is way up. He had his typically excellent route running and had a nice run after the catch on one reception as well. In games where the Chargers have to throw he will be a WR1, in games where they pad a lead he could be more of a WR2, but things are looking good if you rostered Allen.
Things weren’t as great for Mike Williams, as he received one target and had a big fumble for a loss on a reverse to that was recovered. Williams was on the sideline getting treatment on his hamstring in the 4th quarter, so monitor his status. But with Ekeler back in the passing game, and Hunter Henry looking solid, Williams is back to being the fourth option in a run-heavy offense.
Henry didn’t have a spectacular day, but had an efficient performance and can be trusted as your TE1 on a weekly basis. It would be nice to see him start catching touchdowns, but 5+ receptions and 50+ yards each week has been a nice safe floor so far in 2020. The rest of the receivers were afterthoughts, and K.J. Hill also had a bad drop.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) September 27, 2020
-Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)