Los Angeles Chargers (4-1, 4-1 ATS) at Baltimore Ravens (4-1, 2-3), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Chargers Stats and Trends
The Chargers played in their first game over the total last week.
Los Angeles owns a 4-1 outright and ATS record this season, and they own an 8-1 outright and ATS record in their last nine games overall.
Justin Herbert is en fuego right now with 3+ TDs (11 overall) in his last three games after opening the year with just two TDs in Weeks 1-2 combined. He posted a scorching 398/4 passing for 42.8 FP in a shootout with the Browns last week. The Ravens have given up 340+ passing yards and multiple TDs to three QBs this season (Carr, Mahomes, Wentz).
Mike Williams didn’t stay down for long after his 11-yard performance in Week 4, exploding for 8/165/2 receiving on 16 targets. He’s now posted 9+ targets, 7+ catches, 80+ yards, 1+ TDs, and 22+ FP in four of his five games. Michael Pittman posted 6/89/1 receiving in this matchup last week.
Keenan Allen has seen 8+ targets in every game this season, but he’s yet to crack 20+ FP in a game and he’s scored just once with Williams breaking out. The Ravens are giving up the seventh-fewest catches per game (11.6) to WRs this season.
Jared Cook disappointed last week with just a 29-yard catch on three targets and 32 routes while Donald Parham caught both of his targets for 29/1 receiving on 17 routes. The Ravens are giving up the third-most FPG (19.2) to TEs and Mo Alie-Cox led Indy’s TE committee with 3/50 receiving.
Austin Ekeler is blistering hot with 100+ scrimmage yards, 5+ catches, and 22+ FP in his last four games, and his FP has risen every week (11.7<22.5<22.7<29.5<33.9). Jonathan Taylor ripped the Ravens for 15/53/1 rushing and 3/116/1 receiving in Week 5.
Brolley’s Ravens Stats and Trends
Baltimore is 6-2 ATS and 8-0 outright in its last eight games on short rest.
The Ravens have played over the total in six of their last seven home games.
Lamar Jackson is coming off a 42.9 FP outburst last week with 442/4 passing as the Ravens outscored the Colts 28-3 in the final 18 minutes of regulation and overtime last week. Lamar had been snakebitten with just a single passing TD in each of his first four games but he made up for it Week 5. Lamar is averaging 303.8 passing yards per game, which is nearly 100 more yards than his previous career-high of 208.5 in 2019. The Chargers have given up multiple passing TDs to quarterbacks in three straight games.
Marquise Brown hung 9/125/2 receiving on 10 targets against the Colts last week, which gives him 85+ yards and/or a touchdown in 12 of his last 13 games (postseason included). His lone down game in that span came in Week 3 when he dropped three potential touchdowns. The Chargers limited Tyreek Hill to 5/56 receiving in Week 3, and they’re giving up the third-fewest FPG (26.6) to WRs.
Rashod Bateman will finally make his NFL debut this week, which is great timing with Sammy Watkins going down with a hamstring injury in Week 5. Devin Duvernay (4/45 receiving) ran 48 routes and James Proche (2/15 receiving) had 38 with Watkins leaving early last week. Bateman could be on a snap count in his first action off a long layoff.
Positive regression hit for Mark Andrews on MNF in Week 5. He hauled in 11/147/2 receiving on 13 targets and he bookended both of his scores with the two-point conversions for a healthy 41.7 FP. Andrews has 5+ catches and 55+ yards in four straight games heading into a matchup with a Chargers’ defense that just gave up 7/149/1 receiving to David Njoku.
Latavius Murray led this ugly backfield committee in Week 5 but he managed just 6/17 rushing and 2/13 receiving with the gamescript turning negative early after Jonathan Taylor’s long score on the opening drive. Murray is averaging an ugly 3.4 YPC and his two catches last week were his first receptions of the season. The Chargers are giving up league-highs in YPC (5.5) and rushing yards per game (135.8) allowed to RBs this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 24.8 (1st)
Plays per game: 71.6 (4th)
Pass: 64.3% (10th) | Run: 35.7% (23rd)
Pace: 30.9 (28th)
Plays per game: 70.2 (9th)
Pass: 56.0% (25th) | Run: 44.0% (8th)
The Chargers are the hottest team in football and now get a chance to cement their Super Bowl contender status with a date against Lamar Jackson. L.A.’s offense is running on all cylinders right now with Justin Herbert averaging 315 yards per game with a 13:3 TD-to-INT ratio. Everything the Chargers do filters through their passing attack that only trails the Buccaneers in pass rate above expectation in neutral situations (game within a score in 1st-3rd quarters) at +8.3%. Baltimore’s defense has shown massive cracks this season, giving up 491, 405, and 513 total yards of offense to the three good attacks they’ve faced (Raiders, Chiefs, and Colts) while the Lions and Broncos (with Drew Lock) were the only teams they’ve held in check. The Raiders (27 points), Chiefs (36), and Colts (31) all cashed in with big point totals as well. I’m thinking we’ll see the Chargers come out firing at will here. Meanwhile, the Ravens are simple: This team would be nothing without Lamar Jackson and they will go as he goes. Baltimore has already been involved in three fun shootouts with their games against the Raiders (60 total points), Chiefs (71), and Colts (56) all going off. Lamar will have to trade points with Justin Herbert and if the Chargers have their way with the Ravens defense and Lamar is forced to throw all game long – just like last week – this game could go nuts for fantasy.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Keenan Allen got off to a hot start with back-to-back 100-yard games. The second of which was collected against the elite coverage of Trevon Diggs. Even an 8/50/1 day against the Chiefs in Week 3 seems low against that secondary. And he’s flopped the last two weeks with only 12.1 FPG. The data suggests Baltimore could present another difficult challenge for Allen, but we just saw these Ravens surrender 402 passing yards, at a 71.4 completion clip, and 11.5 YPA to Carson Wentz on Monday Night Football.
The Ravens utilize an exotic collection of schemes that prevents QBs from reading the middle of the defensive field, and their frequent all-out blitzing has resulted in a top-10 collection of QB pressures. And that constant desire to apply pressure should lead to volume delivered Allen’s way on his underneath routes. Allen will see a good amount of Tavon Young in the slot, which is a matchup I like.
Speaking of the most recent Monday Night Football game, without Mark Andrews, the Colts would have walked away with the victory. MANdrews obliterated the Indianapolis defense for 44.7 FPS (11/147/2). A Darren Waller-esque 31% target share pushes his season target share to second-highest (23.7%), just behind Waller’s 24.9%. Chasing after that output might seem volatile, but we’d be on Andrews this week without that performance. The Chargers are gift-wrapping 19.3 FPG to TEs this season (second-most), 21.2 over the last four weeks (the most). And Andrews will do plenty of work inside the coverage of Kyzir White.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
One term I like to use to describe appealing fantasy teams from my perspective is “narrow” — teams that score plenty, but very rarely get blowup games from players you don’t expect (if you’re a listener to my SiriusXM Fantasy Gameday show with the legendary Paul Kelly, you know all about “Sick of This” touchdowns.)
The Chargers are quickly climbing the list of teams I like to break down, because I don’t have to do much “breaking down.” QB Justin Herbert might be the best bet for NFL MVP in this one (if the guy across the field isn’t…), and he’s going up against a Raven defense that just allowed Carson Wentz to throw for over 400 yards and 2 TD.
Raven DC Don Martindale had a particularly colorful description of what Herbert could do.
Ravens DC Wink Martindale on Justin Herbert: “He’s one of those guys that could throw a strawberry through a battleship.” pic.twitter.com/QNEVPhMFPI— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) October 14, 2021
(He didn’t come up with that on the spot. He said it about Joe Flacco more than a decade ago.)
RB Austin Ekeler has shaken off an early-season hamstring scare to rank as the overall RB2 so far, behind only Derrick Henry. Baltimore has given up the 5th-most FPG to RBs so far.
Here’s Graham Barfield from the Week 6 Stat-Pack:
“Ekeler is averaging 20.4 FPG and has double-digit PPR points in 11 straight.
He’s finished as the RB28 or better in 11-straight and has finished as the RB15 or better in 8-of-11.
He’s averaging 6.6 targets per game in this stretch, which, for reference, would rank third-most among RBs this year just behind D’Andre Swift (7 targets/game) and Najee Harris (7.8).
The biggest thing that has changed for Ekeler this year is this new staff is finally letting him score TDs. Ekeler has gotten six of the Chargers 7 total carries inside of the 5-yard line.”
At WR, the Chargers have two must-starts against the Ravens’ banged up secondary. It certainly appears that Week 4’s 1-catch performance was the fluke for Mike Williams, who torched the Browns’ banged-up secondary in Week 5 for the best game of his career — 8 catches, 165 yards, 2 TD, on 16 targets. Williams has now tied Tyreek Hill (116.1) FP for the overall WR2 behind Cooper Kupp, and while Keenan Allen remains one of the NFL’s most reliable chain movers, Williams has been the red-zone and big-play option for Herbert. Unfortunately, he didn’t practice all week and is listed as questionable for this game. Fortunately, it’s a 1 PM game, so we’ll know early Sunday if we need to replace him. If he doesn’t go, rookie Josh Palmer or deep threat Jalen Guyton could be in play as a deep-league flier.
#Chargers coach Brandon Staley says WR Mike Williams had swelling in the knee. “We were being careful with him early in the week.”— Fernando Ramirez (@RealFRamirez) October 15, 2021
He adds “we are hopeful he plays.”
As for Allen, Scott Barrett had an interesting tidbit from the Week 6 XFP Report:
“Only three players have hit at least 15.0 XFP in all five of their games: Cooper Kupp, Derrick Henry, and Keenan Allen… Allen ranks 4th in XFP per game (19.9) but just 21st in FPG (15.4). And so, he remains a massive positive regression candidate, and I like him just as much as I did last week, and for all of the same reasons. Although maybe I wouldn’t give up Mike Williams to do it, he’s a phenomenal buy-low target.”
The Ravens have allowed 61.2% of their WR production to come from the slot, which is great news for Keen Bean this week.
This could be a week to fire up a Charger TE, by the way. The Ravens are allowing the third-most FPG to the position, but picking which Charger TE is the problem. While Jared Cook out-routed Donald Parham 32 to 17 in Week 5 and still is 6th among all TEs in routes run, Parham has shown some flashes of being a stud. Cook is still the more likely option to hit, but those desperate could take a shot on Parham.
Speaking of narrow fantasy teams… Baltimore.
QB Lamar Jackson is coming off what I believe to be the best game of his life in the Ravens’ overtime win over Indianapolis. Here’s what Graham had to say about Lamar’s dominance:
“The Ravens gained 523 yards on MNF. Lamar Jackson accounted for 504 of those yards.
Lamar’s 41.9 fantasy points on MNF is the 16th-highest scoring game by a quarterback all-time.
Lamar has scored over 30 FP 10 times since the start of 2019, which is most among quarterbacks. Josh Allen has nine such games while Patrick Mahomes has seven.
Lamar is averaging a career-high 9.1 YPA… why? Well, he is the most aggressive QB in the league right now. Jackson’s passes are traveling 10.7 yards in the air on average – which easily paces the league. Allen is second in aDOT (9.8).”
I got a question on a weekly radio hit this week asking about who the right players to have from Baltimore are for fantasy, and for the first time in the Jackson era… it’s the pass catchers. Marquise Brown ranks as the WR6 overall, while Mark Andrews is the TE2 after his massive MNF performance last week.
The Chargers’ two-deep shell has done a great job limiting big plays — per SIS, their 310 passing yards allowed on throws of 15 or more air yards is 5th-fewest in the league, and they’re also just one of five teams to not allow a TD on such a throw. But it’s also exposed them to allowing the 5th-most FPG to opposing TEs, so my guess is this could be an Andrews week over a Hollywood week. You’re starting both, obviously, but Lamar could be going back to Andrews this week early and often.
Also interesting is that Baltimore will probably get rookie WR Rashod Bateman his first snaps of the year as he comes off a core muscle injury. He was close to playing last week, and is a high-upside bench stash given the Ravens’ offense.
Ravens WR Rashod Bateman expected to make NFL debut vs. Chargers https://t.co/ogApWENkYO— Sun Latest News (@BaltSunBrk) October 15, 2021
That brings us to Baltimore’s backfield, which is in a world of hurt. The Ravens’ 43-game streak of running for 100 or more yards — tied for the NFL record — ended against the Colts last week. And “top” back Latavius Murray may be the least-effective back in the NFL so far.
Running backs explosive rush rate and forced missed tackles per attempt from @PFF.— Kent Weyrauch (@KentWeyrauch) October 12, 2021
👀 Javonte Williams
💩 Latavius Murray pic.twitter.com/5c1Bf2E83i
Murray still played 49% of the snaps in Week 6, and the Chargers are giving up 28.0 FPG to RBs so far, tied for 6th-most in the NFL. He’s the most likely option to hit, but I wonder if Baltimore will be willing to give Ty’Son Williams more of a chance going forward.