While this is the last week in most fantasy leagues for you to make the playoffs, it appears the Los Angeles Chargers have no playoff hopes. Nevertheless, we press on to Week 13.
QUARTERBACK, JUSTIN HERBERT:
Ordinarily, this is a must-start, and with both Tom Brady and Teddy Bridgewater on a bye and Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, and Tua Tagovailoa all either out for the season or injured or on COVID watch you are still going to start Herbert, just temper those expectations.
We all know the whispers around Bill Belichick, that he takes away the team’s most potent weapon and see what happens. Spoiler alert…Herbert is the Chargers’ most potent weapon.
Last week New England won a close game against the Arizona Cardinals. Their best offensive weapon, quarterback Kyler Murray finished with 170 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. But most glaringly he had five carries for 31 yards. Some of the low production can be accredited to Murray’s ailing shoulder, however, it should be noted that Murray was averaging 10 carries a game.
Now of course Herbert isn’t Murray, although Herbert does have 41 rushing attempts, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, his strength is his passing ability. Herbert has a 66.9-percent completion rate. He has 23 passes and seven interceptions and has fumbled the ball six times.
The Patriots defense is fourth in the league in interceptions with 12. According to Sharp Football Analysis, the Patriots have the second-highest explosive pass rate and are only allowing 16.3 fantasy points to the quarterback position per game (seventh lowest).
This should be strength against strength. According to playerprofile.com, Herbert is rocking a 49.1-percent completion rate when pressured. He has a 42.6-percent deep ball completion rate (which is the sixth-best in the league) and his red-zone completion percentage is 55.4.
Last week running back Austin Ekeler led the Chargers in targets, receptions, and yards. Expect Herbert to utilize all of his other weapons in this game and challenge the Belichick method.
WIDE RECEIVER, KEENAN ALLEN:
As stated last week was an anomaly. Allen saw 10 targets for four receptions, 40 yards, and a touchdown. Allen (even with last week’s numbers) is WR4 in fantasy.
The Patriots for all the bravado given to the secondary is allowing the second-most PPR points per target to the wide receiver position. Allen in the last six games has had one game where he was under 10 targets (and in that game, he had seven).
And for all you Stephon Gilmore truthers…not to worry. Allen is playing 51-percent of his snaps in the slot. The Patriots are utilizing Jonathan Jones as the slot corner. Jones has allowed the fourth-most yardage in the slot this season. And if they decide to put Gilmore in the slot to cover Allen, just know this, in his seven targets as the slot corner, Gilmore has allowed four receptions, 80 yards, and two touchdowns.
WIDE RECEIVER, MIKE WILLIAMS:
For better or worse, Williams will be the “boom-or-bust” man in this offense. Last week he was targeted five times, for three receptions and 26 yards. The week prior to that he was targeted seven times, for four receptions, 72 yards, and a touchdown. It will most likely be Williams who is shadowed by Gilmore this week. This further accentuating his “boom or bust” title.
Gilmore is getting a 54.5 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. He has been targeted 31 times, allowed 21 receptions, and has one interception.
TIGHT END, HUNTER HENRY:
After what was a frustratingly slow start, Henry is making a comeback. Although he was held out of the end zone last week, in the two weeks prior he had a touchdown in each game. He was targeted 10 times last week for seven receptions and 67 yards. Henry has 48 receptions for the season the third most for tight ends.
The downside is this week he will be going against a Patriots defense that has been good against the tight end position this season. The Patriots are allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the tight ends they have faced.
The upside is that the Chargers are the second in passing yards per game (280.6) with the sixth-most passing attempts per game (39.5).
The downside there are a lot of weapons for those passes.
RUNNING BACK, AUSTIN EKELER:
Welcome back Mr. Ekeler! On his first game back, Ekeler was on the field for 72-percent of the offensive snaps. He had 11 carries and 14 receptions. He finished with 44 rushing yards and 85 receiving yards. And this week he gets the Patriots’ defense that is 21st in rushing yards, 23rd in rushing attempts allowed per game (28.6), and are allowing one touchdown on average to the running back position.
Welcome back we missed you!
RUNNING BACK, JOSHUA KELLEY:
Let’s see… Kelley had seven attempts for 35 yards and a touchdown, last week. The prior week (against the New York Jets) he had four attempts for -2 yards. Last week he did not see a target in the passing game. In the last three weeks, he had 2.1, 0.2, and 9.5 fantasy points.
Herbert has played with both running backs on the field. In Week 2, Ekeler had 16 rushing attempts, Kelley had 23. Ekeler had four targets and Kelley had three. This was Herbert’s first game as an NFL quarterback, against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3, Ekeler had 12 carries, Kelley eight; while Ekeler had 11 targets and Kelley two.
What does it all mean? In this offense at this time who knows, but the trend for Kelley does not look good, even against the Patriots’ 31st DVOA defense.
Now with the poll for the day: If the Chargers win out does Anthony Lynn stay? YES or NO