Last updated: November 29th at 8:15am ET
Team Totals: Chargers 20.5, Broncos 17.5
Back from their Week 12 bye, the Chargers visit Denver with a 4-7 record and almost no playoff hopes but still fighting for contract-year QB Philip Rivers. Just 2-of-11 quarterbacks to face the Broncos have tallied fantasy results better than QB14, and Rivers himself has been a putrid scorer with four straight finishes of QB18 or worse. On tape, Rivers’ inability to locate vertical passes sticks out like a sore thumb. He’s a low-ceiling two-quarterback-league play at this point. … No Chargers skill player catches a plus Week 13 draw, but Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler asserted themselves as the heartbeat of L.A.’s offense before last week’s bye, and both warrant opportunity-driven RB2 treatment at Denver. Gordon is averaging 21 touches over the Chargers’ last three games while regaining his in-prime explosiveness between the tackles and in space. Gordon is up to five touchdowns over his last five games. … Ekeler has been the Chargers’ most-consistent offensive force all season with 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 10-of-11 games. Los Angeles’ offense moves at a noticeably crisper pace whenever Ekeler is on the field.
Rivers’ target distribution under OC Shane Steichen: Keenan Allen 27; Hunter Henry 26; Ekeler 18; Mike Williams 12; Gordon 10. … Allen’s recent box-score ups and downs have frustrated fantasy leaguers, but he’s collected double-digit targets in four of his last five games and is due for positive-TD regression with one end-zone trip since Week 3. Over his own last five, Broncos top CB Chris Harris has been burned for completions on 14-of-21 targets (67%) for 269 yards (12.8 YPA), two touchdowns, and no picks. Allen is still a bankable WR1. … Tight end matchups against Denver haven’t been favorable all year, but Henry has cleared 45 yards and/or scored a touchdown in 10 of his last 11 games and is 7-for-7 this season. He’s a matchup-agnostic TE1. … Williams is desperate for positive-TD regression to hit without a single score all year, although he lives in traffic lacking separation skills and has commanded six targets or fewer in five straight games. Williams is a boom-bust WR3 option who’s busted more often than not.
Regardless of the identity of their Week 13 quarterback – it’ll be Brandon Allen or rookie Drew Lock – the Broncos’ game plan will be run focused trotting out a backup passer on Vic Fangio’s old-school watch. Just 1-of-11 quarterbacks to face the Chargers has logged better than QB12 fantasy results, while DE Melvin Ingram (hamstring), DTs Justin Jones (shoulder) and Brandon Mebane (knee), and FS Derwin James (foot) all look all systems go against the Broncos. I’d rather fire up the Bolts’ D/ST than have any attachment to Denver’s quarterbacks. … Phillip Lindsay has made a major move past Royce Freeman since Week 10’s bye, out-snapping him 78 to 50 and out-touching him 32 to 13 over the past two games. The Chargers do not play imposing run defense – they’ve coughed up seven running back rush TDs over their last seven games – but they’ll be tested as frequently as struggling OC Rich Scangarello can muster for one of the NFL’s worst teams. Lindsay is a shaky RB2 play, and Freeman a basement-low-floor flex.
Even while his Week 13 quarterback isn’t yet known, Courtland Sutton’s prominence atop Denver’s pass game is established as the NFL’s No. 17 wideout in Air Yards (1,046) and No. 13 player in actual receiving yards (832) despite Sutton’s quarterback carousel. Sutton also checks in as Week 13’s No. 3 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model after commanding eight-plus targets in five of the Broncos’ last six games. In season-long leagues, I’m sticking with Sutton as a quarterback-proof WR2/3. … Noah Fant is also popping in Week 13’s buy-low model and caught Sports Info Solutions’ attention, as well. Per SIS, the Chargers play zone coverage at the NFL’s highest rate. Fant has commanded a team-high 37% target share against zone since the Broncos traded Emmanuel Sanders prior to Week 8. … Battling a shoulder injury, Tim Patrick was invisible in last week’s loss to Buffalo, drawing three targets on just 65% of Denver’s offensive snaps. This looks like a passing game to avoid beyond Sutton and Fant.
Score Prediction: Chargers 23, Broncos 17