Last updated: October 3rd at 10:50am ET
Team Totals: Chargers 25.5, Broncos 19
Their season circling the drain at 0-4 with 3-of-4 losses unfortunately by one score, the Broncos visit a Chargers team that yielded QB18 (Jacoby Brissett), QB14 (Matthew Stafford), QB4 (Deshaun Watson), and QB23 (Josh Rosen) fantasy results in its first four games, essentially playing to its competition. Los Angeles is without crucial pass rusher Melvin Ingram (hamstring), giving Joe Flacco life as a two-QB-league start. Averaging 8.0 yards per attempt with zero sacks taken, Flacco turned in his season-best game in last week’s loss to Jacksonville and finished above QB17 for the first time this year. … Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman draw a neutral matchup against the Bolts, who’ve given up 82/363/2 (4.43 YPC) rushing to enemy backs. Unfortunately, OC Rich Scangarello’s commitment to an even timeshare continues to cap Lindsay and Freeman’s ceilings; last week, the pendulum swung to Freeman in snaps (34 to 25) yet both handled ten touches. Lindsay and Freeman are unexciting-yet viable flex plays in L.A. Scangarello has given away no signs of featuring one back over the other regardless of on-field success.
Flacco’s target distribution: Emmanuel Sanders 34; Courtland Sutton 31; Freeman and Lindsay 19; Noah Fant and DaeSean Hamilton 15; Jeff Heuerman 7. … Sanders continues to slaughter expectations with 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 3-of-4 games. Badly missing Derwin James (foot, I.R.), his backup Adrian Phillips (broken forearm), and vulnerable at No. 2 corner, the Chargers coughed up wideout lines of 8/117/1 (Kenny Golladay), 4/89/0 (Kenny Stills), 8/87/2 (T.Y. Hilton), and 4/70/1 (DeVante Parker) in Weeks 1-4. Sanders has earned WR2 treatment at worst. … Positive-touchdown regression smacked Sutton in the face in last week’s loss to Jacksonville, beating Jalen Ramsey fill-in Tre Herndon for each of his scores. Quietly 17th in the NFL in receiving yards (309), Sutton is a confident WR3 play against the Bolts. Whereas Sanders is an obvious sell high, Sutton is a buy-high target in Dynasty leagues. … Fant showed his superlative athleticism on last week’s 25-yard screen-pass TD, Fant’s first NFL end-zone trip. Fant has been a predictably mistake-prone rookie, but his arrow is pointing up. Only seven tight ends have run more routes. Fant is in Week 5 streamer contention against the safety-disabled Chargers, who were burned by Jordan Akins (3/73/2) and Darren Fells (5/49/1) in the same game two weeks ago.
The Chargers head home after last week’s 20-point win in Miami, where Philip Rivers did whatever he wanted on 24-of-30 passing for 310 yards (10.3 YPA) and two TDs. Rivers’ to-date fantasy results are QB9 > QB26 > QB12 > QB9, good enough for low-end QB1 treatment against a Broncos defense that gets worse by the week. Vic Fangio’s star-crossed unit was rocked by Week 4 injuries to RE Bradley Chubb (ACL) and ILB Josey Jewell (hamstring) with S/CB Kareem Jackson (hamstring) and CB Bryce Callahan (foot) already on the shelf. … Although Anthony Lynn has stated vehemently that Melvin Gordon will return as the Chargers’ starter, Austin Ekeler’s dual-threat dynamism will be difficult to pull off the field after Ekeler accounted for six of Los Angeles’ ten touchdowns in Weeks 1-4. Gordon did not play a single snap against the Dolphins and is probably still a few weeks away from the level of game shape required to handle something close to 20 touches. Until there is evidence proving me wrong, I’m riding with Ekeler as a fringe RB1 and DFS-tournament play with his ownership likely to be depressed by Gordon’s Week 5 activity. The injury-wrecked Broncos front was ethered by Jaguars backs for 37/267/0 (7.22 YPC) rushing last week. I’m approaching Gordon as a largely touchdown-or-bust flex option against Denver.
Rivers’ Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Keenan Allen 48; Ekeler 25; Mike Williams 15; Dontrelle Inman 13; Travis Benjamin 10; Justin Jackson 8; Lance Kendricks 5; Andre Patton 4; Virgil Green 3; Geremy Davis and Troymaine Pope 2. … Fantasy’s WR1 entering Week 4, Allen busted when his 70-yard TD was nullified by penalty and he got pushed out of bounds at the one-yard line on a swing pass later in the game. Broncos top CB Chris Harris has played just four 2019 snaps in the slot, where Allen runs over half of his routes. Particularly with Inman (quad) on I.R. and Williams (knee, back) and Benjamin (hip) both hobbled, Allen projects as a Week 5 target magnet. … Patton and Davis filled in as last week’s Nos. 3 and 4 wideouts behind Allen and Inman. Neither is fantasy relevant, and Williams needs to reprove health to warrant anything close to WR3 discussion. … The Chargers’ tight end room is even more barren.
Score Prediction: Chargers 23, Broncos 21