You know the stats: 0-3 as a starter BUT, 311 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception, and taking the defending Super Bowl Champions to overtime; 330 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception, before a disappointing loss to the Carolina Panthers; and of course going toe-to-toe with the GOAT with 290 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 137.9 QBR.
So welcome to the Herbert era LA. This week it is Herbert in Prime Time with a Monday Night match-up against Drew Brees and the Meh Orleans Saints.
The Saints number one wide receiver Michael Thomas is questionable for the game. The Saints also lost their request to have a 25% fan capacity for the game. So the Dome will be inhabited by 750 friends and family instead of 18,500 rabid Saint fans.
QUARTERBACK, JUSTIN HERBERT: The Saints’ defense is 13th in passing yards allowed to opponents, giving up 236.8 passing yards per game on average. They drop down to 29th in passing touchdowns allowed to opponents, giving up an average of 2.8 touchdowns per game. It also helps the Chargers case that the Saints may be without the services of Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins, and Marcus Davenport.
But this is about Herbert who has averaged 310.3 passing yards in three games. He also has managed to toss five touchdowns with three interceptions (one in each game). The Saints have only gathered one interception in four weeks while giving up 11 touchdowns. The secondary will be reeling without Latimore and Jenkins.
With no Ekeler and a potential negative game script, it will be on Herbert and the receiving corps. Herbert has shown he is up to the task. In his battle last week against a good Tampa Bay secondary he went 20-of-25, for 290 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, two sacks, and 14 yards on the ground.
Herbert has proven he is up for the bright lights of ESPN Monday Night Football. Start him.
RUNNING BACK, JOSHUA KELLEY: There is no Ekeler for a few weeks, ushering Kelley into RB1 status in the Chargers backfield. Kelley is averaging 3.3 yards per carry. His downfall is ball security. And in this match-up, the Saints run defense is superior to their pass defense. They are sixth in rushing yards allowed to opponents giving up 97.5 yards per game. They are also only allowing one rushing touchdown per game on average.
Kelley’s value with Ekeler was his role as the goal-line back. He won’t lose that but this run defense is as formidable as the Buccaneers defense he saw last week. That resulted in nine rushes for seven yards, three targets, three receptions, and 26 yards. Due to his ability to catch passes out of the backfield (seven targets, seven receptions for 84 yards), Kelley may be worth a flex or RB3 play.
RUNNING BACK, JUSTIN JACKSON: As previously stated, this is a brutal match-up for the run game. While the Saints are having their issues, they have held Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ronald Jones to 66 yards; Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones to 69 yards; Detroit Lions rushing back committee to 79 yards; and Las Vegas Raiders Josh Jacobs to 88 yards.
Jackson is worth picking up on waivers but this is not the game to play him.
TIGHT END, HUNTER HENRY: Henry was relatively quiet last week having only three targets, two receptions for 39 yards. That looked to be just an anomaly, as Herbert targeted him eight times in week two and seven times in week three. The Saints have allowed a tight end touchdown to each of the tight ends they have faced in the last three weeks. Start him.
WIDE RECEIVER, JALEN GUYTON: Guyton had one target and one reception in last week’s game. That just happened to be a touchdown on the end of a 72-yard bullet thrown by Herbert. In four games, Guyton has five receptions on seven targets for 125 yards and two touchdowns. With Williams out, Guyton is that down the field boom-or-bust guy.
WIDE RECEIVER, TYRON JOHNSON: He too is of the one target one reception one touchdown fame of week four. It is really hard to bank your fantasy week on one target, one reception, one touchdown bomb.
WIDE RECEIVER, KEENAN ALLEN: Allen is first in the league with a 35 percent target share and 10th in air yard share at 38 percent. Although he didn’t make it in the end zone last week, he was still the most targeted receiver with 12 targets (it wasn’t even close, the next being three targets). Without Lattimore and Jenkins, the pathway for Allen is looking really good. Start him.
DEFENSE: Yes and a stronger yes if the Saints are without the services of Thomas.
The official start of the Herbert Era is upon us. Isn’t it just perfect that it’s on MNF?
Prediction: Upset time! The Saints are a 7.5 point favorite. Look for the Chargers to not only cover that but win by a field goal.
Good Luck and Talk at me on Twitter @neverenoughglt.