Today marks the finalē of our divisional fantasy previews, wrapping thing up with the Los Angeles Charges and Oakland Raiders. If you missed out on any of the action, you can view each preview by clicking the links below…
Before we start, we launched our Razzball Commenter Leagues this week. This is your chance to take your shot at your favorite Razzball writers and contributors. If you’re really full of yourself, join in more than one and take your shot against a few of us..hell, all of us. These will be 12-team PPR, season long, snake draft leagues, with a twist. Free to enter and free to talk trash. Prizes are available and the opportunity to earn a spot in the coveted 2020 RazzBowl is up for grabs too. League info, draft dates and more specifics about the contests can be found here, 2019 Razzball Commenter Leagues.
***LAST CALL – Early-bird discount still available through August 10th on 2019 Razzball Fantasy Football subscriptions. Just $19.98 for season-long weekly projections/rankings and $99.99 includes DFS projections including lineup optimizer. These tools helped me finish with 5 fantasy championships in 2018 and 8 playoff squads out of 10 leagues. Don’t over think, DO IT!***
Completed Previews: AFC North – NFC North – NFC East Part I – NFC East Part II – AFC East Part I – AFC East Part II – NFC South Part I – NFC South Part II – AFC South Part I – AFC South Part II – NFC West Part I – NFC West Part II – AFC West Part I
Los Angeles Chargers
QB Philip Rivers
- Started all 16 games
- Beat weekly projections 10 out of 16 games
- 32 TD / 13 TO (1 FUM)
- 508 pass attempts (QB14)
- 17.8 fantasy points per game
- Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
- 23rd easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs (#9 hardest)
- Rough first half, doesn’t face a top 10 easiest fantasy defense until week 10. Only faces 4 defenses the whole season that are ranked in the top 10 easiest ( #2 easiest KC week 11 & 17 / #9 easiest OAK week 10 & 16)
Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers were the #3 overall most explosive offense in 2018, and tied-4th most explosive passing offense w/ LAR, this is highlighted in Zach’s Offenses To Target article. On the flip side, the LAC were the slowest paced offense in the NFL last season, but only separated by seconds. This Melvin Gordon situation is one to monitor closely as we enter re-draft season. Unfortunately, things are at a stand still between the two sides with no end in sight. If Melvin sits out for the 2019 season, then we can project Rivers and Co. to pass more in certain situations where Gordon was relied upon. The Chargers will still run the ball with capable back-ups, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, but neither are the caliber of Gordon. Rivers present us with late round QB value for those that wait to draft a QB. Honestly, its almost disrespectful that a QB1 from 2018 is getting drafted as a mid-QB2. In single QB leagues, you can easily wait to get Rivers in the 10th round or later. His current ADP is 126 OVR / QB17. I get it, Rivers is not a sexy pick like Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, and Jameis Winston, but Rivers is projected to finish within ~22 points of all three of those QBs. To put this in perspective, Mayfield (65 OVR) is the highest drafted of the QBs listed, 61 picks ahead of Rivers (125 OVR), roughly 5 rounds apart. The difference between the 66 OVR pick, WR Alshon Jeffery (proj. 195.9), and the 128th OVR pick, Desean Jackson (proj. 134.2) is 61.7, nearly triple to point differential from Rivers’ to Mayfields projected 2019 points. Again, there is value in drafting a QB late…load up on RB/WR and even TE’s before investing a lot of equity in your QB. Depending on your league, you have to start a minimum of 2-3 WRs and you can only start one QB, making it more valuable to draft RB/WR early. In 2-QB or super flex leagues, the strategy changes slightly as QBs are taken off the board earlier than single-QB formats.
RB Melvin Gordon
- Played 12 games (missed 4 games due to a knee injury)
- Beat weekly projections 9 out of 12 games
- 3 games over 100 yards rushing
- 1 game over 100 yards receiving
- 4.2 receptions per game on 5.5 targets per game
- 5.1 yards per carry and 9.8 yards per reception
- 1.2 TD rate per game
- 23.0 points per game
- LAC RB Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
- 26th easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs
- Tough first half of the season (weeks 1-8), Only 1 matchup against a top 10 easiest fantasy defense and 5 out of 8 matchups against the top 10 hardest fantasy defenses
As of today, 08/06/19, we are at complete standstill between Melvin Gordon and LAC. We are at the point where we are facing a season long hold out, similar to LeVeon Bell last season. I am out, I cannot justify drafting Gordon at this point, too much risk. Gordon’s ADP is still fairly high, 11 OVR / RB7. In recent best balls, I’ve seen Gordon fall well in to the 4th round but not any later…yet. His price will continue to plummet as pre-season progresses and no positive news surfaces. Rudy has Melvin projected to finish as RB24 and currently missing 4 games. Like with any risk comes the possibility of big reward. If Melvin only misses 4 games, he is a steal in the 3-4th round. Not a risk I’m willing to take at the moment.
RB Austin Ekeler
- Played 14 games (missed 2 games due to concussion protocol/neck injury)
- Beat weekly projections 8 out of 14 games
- Zero games over 100 yards rushing OR receiving
- 2.8 receptions per game on 3.8 targets per game
- .43 TD rate/gm
- 12.1 fantasy points per game
One of the biggest fantasy debates right now, Austin Ekeler OR Justin Jackson. My biggest argument for Ekeler, he still holds value regardless if Melvin sits out or comes back. If Gordon returns, Ekeler still holds his role from last season, where he produced fantasy relevant numbers. In 7 out of the 11 games that Ekeler and Melvin played together, Ekeler produced RB3 to RB1 numbers (two RB1, four RB2, one RB3). 3 out of the 11 games, he produced RB4 numbers. Depending on you league format he could have started in a 2nd or 3rd flex spot those weeks. Only 1 game out of the 11, that Austin played with Melvin, he placed outside of the top 50 at the position. Also, the Chargers would be inclined to protect their newly signed back, assuming Gordon returns, and make sure he remains healthy over the course of the season and into the playoffs. I can see Ekeler’s role increasing in this environment. IF Gordon decides to sit out for the season, then Ekeler will “split” starting duties with Justin Jackson and still be utilized in the passing game. Here are the stat lines between Ekeler/Jackson, when Gordon missed time: week 13 through divisional playoff round (excluding wks 15 + 16, Ekeler DNP): Ekeler- 47 att, 23 tgt, 14 rec, Jackson- 24 att, 7 tgt, 6 rec. Ekeler is projected to finish RB28 and Justin Jackson RB53. Both are providing value at their current ADP, Ekeler 81 OVR / RB33 and Justin Jackson 181 OVR / RB 57. Both are worth a stab with the way the Gordon situation currently stands, but I prefer the back the holds value either outcome.
WR Keenan Allen
- Played 15 games (exited early in 1 game due to a hip injury)
- Beat weekly projection 5 out of 15 games
- 3 games over 100 yards receiving
- 9.1 targets per game and t-WR11 in total targets (137)
- 6.5 receptions per game and WR9 in total receptions (97)
- 12.3 yards per reception and .4 TD rate
- 16.3 fantasy points per game
- LAC WR Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
- 25th easiest overall strength of schedule for WRs (8th hardest)
- Unattractive first half of the season, does not face a top 10 easiest fantasy defense until week 9 vs GB. only 3 matchups, all season, against top 10 easiest fantasy defenses
Allen’s injury concerns are behind him after completing two full NFL season back-to-back and two WR1 fantasy finishes in a row, yet still some consider Allen as an injury concern. As if any other player in the league does not carry a base level injury concern. Rudy has Allen repeating 2019 as a fantasy WR1, projecting a WR5 finish in 2019. Please let that be the case because I’ve had Allen fall to me in the third round in many drafts. His current ADP is 24 OVR / WR10, at the 2nd-3rd round turn. Allen will benefit, along with the other pass catchers in LAC, by Tyrell Williams departure of 64 targets. Also, if the Gordon hold out is real and turns out to be season long. We can project even more targets for Allen, as Rivers’ top trusted pass catcher and chain mover. Keenan is a great WR1 target for those that start their draft RB-RB in the first two rounds.
WR Mike Williams
- Played all 16-games
- Beat weekly projections 9 out of 16 games
- Zero games over 100 yards receiving
- 2.7 receptions per game on 4.1 targets per game
- 15.4 yards per reception and .69 TD rate
- 11.3 fantasy points per game
I’ve been high on Mike Williams all summer. He moved into the true WR2 role in LAC, with Tyrell out, in an offense rated #3 in overall explosive plays (2018), entering his 3rd year in the NFL, and I expect the Chargers to pass more, if Melvin Gordon holds out for the season. The only hesitation with Mike, is the low volume of targets he received last season. Consistent fantasy production is highly correlated to volume. Volume of snaps and volume of targets rank at the top. He was extremely effective with his 43 receptions. He will struggle to replicate his 2018 fantasy numbers with a repeat of his target totals from last season. His 66 targets were good for WR62 in total targets, right next to Kendrick Bourne and Kelvin Benjamin. Yea…not the best company. Luckily for Mike, his total snaps will increase and his volume of targets should increase. Even if his TD rate regresses because of the presence of Hunter Henry, the dip in TD production should be offset by the increase in snaps & targets. All is reflected in Rudy’s projections for Mike, WR27 – 193.3 ppr points – 97.3 targets – 59.7 receptions – 7.3 total TDs. An improvement in every category except his TD rate. His ADP is right in line with his current projection, 64 OVR / WR27.
TE Hunter Henry
Missed all of 2018, with a torn ACL
- LAC TE Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
- 2nd easiest overall strength of schedule for TEs
- Juicy season long schedule, only 3 matchups against fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 hardest
- 9 matchups against the top 10 easiest fantasy defenses
In 2017, Henry averaged 3.8 receptions per game on 5.2 targets per game and finished as TE14, just outside of the TE1 range. The general consensus is high on Henry, with an ADP of 66 OVR / TE6, going in the middle of the 5th round. I’m in the grab a top tier TE (Kecle/Kittle/Ertz) or wait camp. Rudy does have Herny projected as TE4, ahead of his current ADP but ~57 points behind the TE3. His ADP is right next to his teammate Mike Williams (64 OVR). Mike is projected to score ~20 points more than Henry, I rather draft Mike in this position than Henry. Yes, Hunter will benefit just like Keenan/Mike from the departure of Tyrell and Melvin hold out. Everyone has their draft strategy, but I prefer investing in positions that require more starting equity. For the same reason you can wait on QBs, in single QB leagues, the logic applies to the TE position. You can only start 1 TE in the majority of fantasy leagues, and are required to start a minimum of 2-3 RB/WR each. I rather grab an RB/WR in Henrys range. His projected 174 points is good for the projected WR34 spot. The current WR34 is Courtland Sutton. He is getting drafted 97 OVR, 3 rounds later than Henry’s current price.
QB Derek Carr
- Started all 16 games
- Beat weekly projections 6 out of 16 games
- 20 TDs (1 RUSH) / 17 TO (7 FUM)
- 553 pass attempts (QB12)
- 13.6 fantasy points per game
- OAK QB Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
- 16th easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs
- Tough out the gates (weeks 1-5), 3 out of 5 matchups
- Sweet stretch leading up to the fantasy football playoffs (weeks 11-13), faces the #1, #7, and #2 easiest fantasy defenses
I’m interested in taking a flier on Derek Carr as a last round backup QB for a couple of reasons. Mike Mayock and Gruden have produced a quick turnover on the offensive side of the ball. Bringing in arguably the best WR the past 5 years in a row and for certain the best FANTASY wide receiver of the last five season. Tyrell Williams comes over from LAC and showed the ability to operate effectively as a WR2. Then, the Raiders added top RB prospect Josh Jacob in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The defense on the other hand has its areas for improvement. The Offense could find themselves in a lot of shootouts, leading to a lot of pass attempts for Carr with capable skill players able to send it! Don’t draft him as your QB1 but take him deep leagues, and 2-QB leagues. In regular 1-QB season long leagues keep him on your watch list. Rudy has him projected to finish as QB28. His ADP sits at 183 OVR / QB24, going in the early 15th round.
RB Josh Jacobs (Rookie)
- OAK RB Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
- 14th easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs
- Tougher start leading up to his week 6 bye (weeks 1-5), 3 out of 5 matchups against fantasy defense ranked among the top 10 hardest. Only one matchup against a top 10 easiest fantasy defense
- Challenging fantasy playoff stretch (weeks 14-15), matchups against the #4 (TEN) and #5 (JAC) toughest fantasy defenses
Jacbos comes with a productive schedule from his time as an Alabama Crimson Tide, and coached under history setting Nick Saban. In his three seasons with the Tide, Josh posted 1,491 yards on 251 attempts for an impressive 5.9 yards per carry. He was named the 2018 MVP of the SEC Championship game. The pedigree is there for Josh Jacobs and the opportunity is served up on a platter for his taking. He is only fighting a 7-year, 30 yr old, and almost retired Doug Martin, and pass catching/change of pace back Jalen Richard. Jacobs is currently listed as the #1 RB on the Raiders own website. Rudy has Jacobs finishing the season as RB19, ahead of Marlon Mack, Lamar Miller, and David Montgomery. You won’t find a discount for this 1st round draft pick, his current ADP sits at 36VR / RB18. During your draft, you want a good mix of consistent reliable assets mixed with young ascending talent that have a clear path to fantasy relevant opportunities, upside with some risk. Jacobs is one of those guys.
WR Antonio Brown
- Played 15 games (missed final game due to supposed knee injury)
- Beat weekly projections 9 out of 15 games
- 5 games over 100 yards receiving
- 11.3 targets per game and t-WR2 in total targets (169)
- 6.9 receptions per game and WR7 in total receptions (104)
- 12.5 yards per reception and 1.0 TD rate
- 21.6 fantasy points per game
- OAK WR Strength of schedule at-a-glance
- 24th easiest overall strength of schedule for WRS (#9 hardest)
- Unfavorable start (weeks 1-5), 4 out of 5 matchups against fantasy defenses in the top 10 hardest
Consistency, one of the Pillars in Fantasy Football. Antonio Brown, THE pinnacle of consistency when it comes to Fantasy Football. Top 5-WR finishes in every season dating back to 2013. 4 of those seasons were consecutive top dog finishes, as THE WR1. His usages stats from 2018 in PIT will be hard to assume in Oakland with the change of QB and coach, but the talent and efficiency cannot be dismissed. Rudy has Antonio Brown finishing as the WR8 and projected 41st overall fantasy finish in 2019. The best part is we are about to get him at an even bigger discount. The news and speculation of his foot issue has grown roots and limbs. No one is certain what will happen, but I can be certain that it will chip away at his current ADP. Former NFL Doctor, David Chao writes a great article here, breaking it down from a medical perspective regarding Antonio Browns situation. As of right now, I will be pounding Antonio shares if he continues to fall-past his current ADP, 20 OVR / WR8. I wouldn’t be surprised with the current twitter frenzy, we see him fall well in the 3rd and into the 4th round. If any concrete information develops and changes his current timetable then I will revisit this situation. Right now, I’m still on board with Toe-Tap Tony.
WR Tyrell Williams
- Played 15 games (missed 1 game due to a quad)
- Beat weekly projections 5 out of 15 games (never projected over 8.0 STD fantasy points)
- 2 games over 100 yards receiving
- 2.7 receptions per game on 4.3 targets per game
- 15.9 yards per reception and .33 TD rate
- 8.6 fantasy points per game
See OAK WR strength of schedule highlight under Antonio Brown above.
Tyrell comes over from LAC and enters a receiver room with a void at the WR2 spot on the depth chart. IF Browns foot injury happens to linger into the season then we’ll have Williams as the WR1 in this offense and at extremely cheap price. Tyrell is projected to finish as the WR 60 and his current APD is 144 OVR / WR54, in the 12th round. I’m willing to place a couple options on this later round lotto ticket that present upside. He will be a great RZ target for Carr, he brings a noticeable size/frame difference than Brown. 6′ 4″ 20b lbs to Browns 5′ 10″ 181 build.
OAK Quick Hits: Jalen Richard and Doug Martin are only late round fliers that their fantasy value heavily relies on Josh Jacobs ability to stay healthy and maintain the RB1 job. Richard holds more standalone value, than Martin, because of his usage in the passing game. Jalen Richard is projected to finish as Rb55 and Martin one spot behind him, RB56. If you’re handcuffing then Martin will be the early down/goal line back to step in if Jacobs doesn’t work out or misses time. If you’re looking for a really deep cut at the TE position, Darren Waller has made his rounds in the twitter world. I’m not currently buying it. I understand he’s an athletic specimen and presents a matchup problem with his size, but the guy reminds of the TE version of D’Onta Foreman. A lot of hype but not a lot juice to show for it, he’s already entering his 4th season in the NFL. Rudy has him as the TE39, and is merely a watch list candidate at this point. He’s free at his current ADP, 239 OVR / TE28. Let’s see what he does in the preseason.
This is the end to my divisional fantasy previews. I will still pump out weekly articles leading up to the start of the season. I will bring back my weekly handcuff report and an additional article. I’ll do my handcuff kick-off piece after I return from a mini-vacation in Vegas. Cheers!
As always, leave your feedback below or holler @ me on twitter.