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Another week, another game where the Chargers should’ve won…but they found a way to lose. Chalk up another loss for the West Coast Browns.
The Chargers could have stoked a little playoff life/fire with a win here but they never fail to disappoint with new ways to lose. Trying to sit on a 17-14 lead with 1:51 left, the team was called for a delay of game penalty to start the drive…causing a 1st & 15 trying to milk the clock. On the first actual play of the drive, Austin Ekeler fumbled and set up the Jags in prime position. Of course, Blake Bortles would then throw an interception and blow it…until the Chargers failed to move the ball when they got it back and punted to the Jags with 0:58 to go.
The Chargers halted the Jags 3rd-down efforts and were about to go 4th & 4 for the ball game…but, wait…roughing the passer on Joey Bosa. The drive continued. The Jags tied it with a field goal and eventually won it OT with a field goal…all from kicker (Josh Lambo) they had cut to start the year for that rookie kicker YoungHoe Koo who cost them a few games this season with missed FGs.
Oddly, Josh Lambo being cut to start 2017 might have cost the Chargers three wins this season…including this one. Typical Chargers.
The Jags survived the scare to go to 6-3 with CLE-ARI-IND the next three weeks…an easy 9-3 record. If they then lose to Seattle Week 14, let’s say, they then get HOU-SF after that. The Jags will be 11-4 heading into Week 17 with Tennessee who will probably be 10-5. The winner takes the AFC South and the loser is a top-seeded wild card.
The schedule ahead demands Jacksonville and Tennessee will both be in the playoffs. And it also demands you love some of their fantasy assets down the stretch as well.
If JAC-TEN are in the playoffs…and NE-PIT-KC will cruise to division wins…the current final playoff team is – the Buffalo Bills at 5-4…with everyone else at 4 wins or less. It is very possible an 8-8 team is the final AFC wild card this year. The Chargers really had a chance at 8-8 had they won here. Any team with 4 wins in the AFC is still in decent shape for the final wild-card – BAL, MIA, NYJ, OAK. A three-win team getting hot could jump in – Cincy, Denver, or LAC are the likely contenders/pretenders for that.
A wild AFC finish to come with like 3-4-5 teams tied at 8-8 with 10-levels deep of tiebreaker rules for the final wild card determination. You think the Bills at 5 wins has the upper hand but they have two Patriots games left and just switched to a rookie QB. Bills v. Chargers this week.
If I know the Chargers’ luck…Philip Rivers will be ruled inactive for the game with his concussion.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I am walking back some of my rapid dismissal of Austin Ekeler (10-42-0, 5-77-2/5). But I still think he’s more long shot than not…only because of the Chargers ‘ways’…or #Chargersthings.
Ekeler is so clearly the only Chargers RB with any life in his legs that you have to willingly look the other way to not see it…which is exactly what Anthony Lynn will do. If he doesn’t, Philip Rivers will.
Ekeler is no great prospect but he’s a helluva a lot better than Melvin Gordon who continues his low yards per carry ways and might be hurt to add fuel to the fire. In the past four games, Gordon had that 87-yard TD run versus the Patriots…a missed tackle and surprising slip through and untouched long TD run. Ignore that play for a moment, and on all his other carries the past four games: 72 carries for 193 yards…2.7 yards per carry.
You or I, rational human beings, would see this isn’t working with Gordon and start splitting more work between other RBs…and when one looked so much better, we’d ride that. Anthony Lynn, I believe, sensed the same and started leaning on Ekeler…giving him crucial carries late in the game, but then Ekeler fumbled and sent Lynn scurrying back to Gordon, who did nothing and help cost them the game by costing them possessions with his runs to nowhere.
However, I know the Chargers – they will flip right back to their old ways. It’s why Hunter Henry is up one week and nothing the next. Ditto Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin. This is a Melvin Gordon-Keenan Allen based offense and Philip Rivers will not change it.
HOWEVER, Rivers has targeted Ekeler 4-1-5 times in the last 3 games. In this game, Ekeler was a purposeful weapon more than ‘a guy on the field’. I see an effort to get him the ball in passing game…and the results were obvious in this game.
HOWEVER, that never stopped Rivers and the staff from not staring something good in the face and turning back the other way.
I see the potential of Ekeler as like a Darrent Sproles-ish option now, but I don’t think the Chargers will go through with it consistently.
Besides his obvious better-than-Gordon work, the thing that is changing my mind on Ekeler getting opportunity – he had 4 special teams tackles…that’s right up Anthony Lynn’s alley. I’m curious to see if they’ll really push him here. I doubt it. Just random ups and downs.
Once the Chargers are out of it…I could see Gordon being put on the shelf. I think something may be wrong with him. This could become a thing ahead so after people chase Ekeler this week because of the 2 TDs, then drop him next week when he has 1 touch for 4 yards…you might consider an Ekeler stash if LAC keeps losing.
-- I wish I had Ekeler instead of Leonard Fournette (17-33-0, 2-13-0/4) for this game, I can tell you that. Nothing is more fun than watching Fournette smash into the line of scrimmage for 0-2 yards every play, seemingly.
Fournette is an all-world talent, which then makes sense that he was not in the game much in the 4th-quarter when the Jags were down. I think we all know how good T.J. Yeldon is and how he’s carried the Jags to glory for so many years…in times of crisis you need more Yeldon and less Fournette, right?
This lunacy is why I don’t buy Austin Ekeler getting a deserved push…coaches be crazy. It’s also why I fear Fournette and Marrone coming to blows and Fournette not winning because Marrone-Coughlin are Clint Eastwood from the movie Gran Torino.
As long as Marrone keeps winning this reign of terror will not stop.
-- …which is why Blake Bortles (28-51 for 273 yards, 1 TD/2 INT) will probably get a contract extension, instead of benched, like he should have already.
There’s some fantasy chatter about Bortles’ schedule ahead and playing CLE this week. Look, Bortles sucks and it doesn’t matter who they’re playing. In nine games this year, Bortles has 0 or 1 TD pass in eight of the 9 games.
They tried to put it on his shoulders in this game and he almost cost them the game about 10 times.
-- Two of the times Bortles almost cost the Jags the win was his two overthrows for sure TDs to emerging Keelan Cole (3-61-0/8). 50+ yards and 2 TDs left on the field for Cole in this game. One throw about 2 inches too far the other 2+ yards too much.
Cole is getting open and has Bortles’ trust…and he’s really good, possibly great. Anyone talking Dede Westbrook needs to have their head examined…or you know they don’t really follow this stuff deep enough.
With no Allen Hurns…Cole becomes more and more a sleeper.
-- One other Jags WR note – Marqise Lee (6-55-1/11) is playing nice football. He looks like T.Y. Hilton for the Jags…only he plays with a dirt-worst QB. I’d trust this Lee pop more than not…especially with the schedule ahead.
-- Can we rely upon the Chargers DST ahead?
I can say this – Peterman-Dak-Kizer the next three weeks. You can love the LAC DST for two of the next three weeks. And if that is a critical time for you in fantasy, you may need to make room for this DST to help you get over by using them Weeks 11 and 13, if you don’t have the Jags DST as your lead dog. You may want to take them to keep away from an opponent this week if their DST is weak.
LAC DST facts…
*Tied for 2nd in the NFL (with PIT) for most sacks (29). Their pass defense is very tough given their top of the line pass rush. From Week 2 on…they’ve had about as many sacks as the Jaguars.
*#11 in passing yards allowed
*#32 is rushing yards allowed but big improvement the past four weeks and key run stopper Denzel Perryman is back.
Held Fournette to 33 yards…giving up 90 rushing yards to Corey Grant (56 yards fake punt) and Blake Bortles (34 yards). The Jags RBs, the best run game in the NFL…went 21 carries for 45 yards here.
*The past four games, opponents have scored 14.3 PPG against them…shutting out Denver, frustrating top offenses New England and Jacksonville.
*Current #10 fantasy DST in PPG this season, per FantasyPros.
Steelers DST v. Rams DST v. Chargers DST?
I know a lot of you have this dilemma if you’re considering the LAC DST. I think the Rams are the odd DST out, even though their the #2 DST in fantasy right now – the schedule is about to change.
The Rams have MIN-NO-ARI-PHI-SEA-TEN ahead. Only that Week 13 vs. ARI is a strong play. Week 11 might be OK vs. MIN…but MIN isn’t a rollover. If you had the Chargers Weeks 11 and 13, you face Nathan Peterman and DeShone Kizer…both QBs heading west to L.A. for those games.
The only two strong plays for the Rams DST this season, Weeks 11 and 13…the Chargers are stronger those two weeks.
Weeks 14-15 with WAS-KC is not great for the Chargers, so you’ll need help…but LAR will have PHI-SEA those two weeks. You’d seek help regardless.
Week 15 is a problem for all of them…LAR v. SEA, PIT v. NE, LAC v. KC.
I like this play this week, and Week 13…only Philip Rivers being concussed throws a monkey wrench in this.
-- Chargers IDPs of note…
Denzel Perryman – 9 tackles in his return, but also note it was against heavy run count Jacksonville, but still he will get 7+ tackles a game ahead I bet.
Jatavis Brown (5 tackles) started but only played 63% of the snaps as he is a rotational player now, inexplicably.
Rookie Desmond King (5 tackles, 1.0 sacks) is having more and more impact. He played 56% of the defensive snaps and has averaged 4.5 tackles and 0.50 sacks per game the past four games.
Snap Counts of Note…
45 = Fournette (54% of the offensive snaps)
31 = Yeldon
08 = Ivory
47 = Gordon
23 = Ekeler
53 = Jatavis Brown
46 = Perryman
40 = Emanuel
34 = Toomer