Last updated: December 5th at 5:36pm ET.
Team Totals: Chargers 23, Jaguars 20
With Los Angeles’ coaching staff fighting for its life at 4-8 and all eight losses coming by one score, the Chargers visit a similarly downtrodden 4-8 Jaguars team that’s been blown out in four straight weeks. Quarterback aside, Jacksonville’s main weakness is no secret after enemy backs eviscerated DC Todd Wash’s unit for 105/643/7 (6.12 YPC) rushing over its last four games. This is a potential smash spot for Melvin Gordon, whose last four touch counts are 23 > 23 > 17 > 22 with four-plus yards per carry in all of them, regaining his in-prime burst. Jacksonville’s front seven is further weakened by MLB Myles Jack‘s (knee) loss to I.R. … Staying very relevant amid Gordon’s resurgence, Austin Ekeler visits Duval with 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 11-of-12 games. Especially if the underachieving Chargers fall behind, Jacksonville’s dynamic pass rush could force Ekeler into more playing time than usual on screens, hots, outlets, and checkdowns. The Jaguars rank No. 6 in in sacks (38) and No. 8 in QB hits (81). … His arm shot and pass protection nearly nonexistent, Philip Rivers’ fantasy appeal is long gone. He’s finished QB18 or worse in five straight games, offering neither upside nor a safe floor. On game tape, it’s cringeworthy watching Rivers trying to write longball checks his arm can no longer cash.
Rivers’ target distribution under OC Shane Steichen: Keenan Allen 33; Hunter Henry 29; Ekeler 23; Mike Williams 19; Gordon 13; Andre Patton 5. … Allen has endured an awkward year along with most of his teammates, but he enters Week 14 averaging a sturdy 9.0 targets over his last six games and is on pace for 101.3 catches. Albeit more volatile than most, Allen is an every-week WR1. … Henry tied his season low in routes run (27) in last week’s loss to Denver, contributing to year lows in targets (3) and yards (10). I’m chalking it up as a blip; Henry cleared 45 yards and/or hit pay dirt in 10 of his prior 11 games and was 7-for-7 in 2019. He’s now 7-for-8 in bounce-back position facing the Jags’ zone-heavy defense. Henry’s odds of regressing positively are obvious enough that he’s Week 14’s No. 1 buy-low tight end in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Williams has maintained WR3/flex relevance only via contested catches downfield. The good news is Williams (6’4/218) has major size advantages on Jags outside CBs A.J. Bouye (6’0/186) and Tre Herndon (5’11/186), while Jacksonville has shown big-play vulnerability by coughing up the league’s ninth-most catches of 20-plus yards (45). Still on the hook for severe positive-touchdown regression with zero scoring receptions after scoring ten times on just 43 grabs last year, Williams is an interesting DFS-tournament play in a week where he figures to attract minimal ownership.
The Jaguars are resorting back to Gardner Minshew following their fourth straight blowout loss against an ultra-talented Chargers defense armed with a healthy SS Derwin James and CB Casey Hayward on the backend and DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram up front. It’s a rude comeback spot for Minshew; just 1-of-12 quarterbacks to face L.A. has beaten QB12 fantasy results, while Chargers-Jaguars carries Week 14’s fourth-lowest total. It’s hard to get excited about Minshew beyond deep two-QB leagues. … Leonard Fournette continues to assert himself as a passing-game monster with five-plus catches in five straight games and an upward-trending 87-reception pace, especially helpful since the Bolts have served up the league’s eighth-most running back catches (69). On the season, Fournette happens to have drawn 75% of his targets against zone coverage; Los Angeles plays zone at the NFL’s highest rate (84.5%). Fournette’s efficiency comes and goes, but his usage is as bankable as any running back’s in football. He’s run 30-plus pass routes in six straight games. Fournette is also promisingly and eye-catchingly popping as Week 14’s No. 1 Air Yards Buy Low player.
Minshew’s 2019 target distribution: D.J. Chark 70; Dede Westbrook 60; Fournette 56; Chris Conley 49; Keelan Cole 13; RyQuell Armstead 10; Seth DeValve 9. … Chark has settled in as a boom-bust WR2, but it’s notable that he leads the Jaguars in targets, yards (697), and touchdowns (5) on Minshew throws and offers a slate-breaking ceiling each week with 4.34 speed and heaps of opportunity. Only 12 NFL receivers have commanded more Air Yards than Chark (1,193) this year. … Attacking Los Angeles on interior routes has been profitable; struggling slot CB Desmond King has yielded 30 completions on 35 targets (86%) for 367 yards (10.5 YPA) and a pair of touchdowns. Jaguars slot man Westbrook remains on the WR3/4 outskirts, teasing with sporadically useful games. … Conley’s stat lines in Minshew’s last six starts are 2/32/0 > 4/103/1 > 3/83/0 > 0/0 > 1/26/0 > 1/17/0. Facing a Chargers defense that’s allowed the NFL’s third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, Conley is a Hail Mary WR4/flex.
Score Prediction: Chargers 20, Jaguars 17