Last updated: September 11th at 3:23pm ET.
Team Totals: Chargers 25, Lions 22
The Chargers trek to Detroit fresh off their thrilling OT win over the Colts to face a Lions defense that logged a league-high 82 Week 1 plays in their own overtime game against a Cardinals offense that played no huddle at a league-high 42% rate. Afterwards, Kyler Murray said he noticed Lions defenders sucking wind during Arizona’s fourth-quarter comeback. … Austin Ekeler was the star of the Bolts’ Week 1 show, out-touching Justin Jackson 18 to 7, outgaining him 154 to 61, and hitting pay dirt three times, including Ekeler’s powerful game-winning rushing TD up the gut from seven yards out. (Take that #CantRunBetweenTheTackles Twitter!) On touch counts of 18 > 17 > 18 > 17 over his last four starts, Ekeler is a high-end RB2 with RB1 upside at Detroit, which yielded 142 total yards and a score to Cardinals backs last week. Hunter Henry’s devastating tibial fracture only enhances the Chargers’ need to rely on Ekeler in the short-area passing game. … Jackson should still be rostered in all season-long leagues as one of fantasy’s top handcuffs with some standalone value. … Smartly leaning on a low-aDOT passing game that featured slot receivers, backs, and tight ends, Philip Rivers was as sharp as ever versus the Colts, even while absorbing four sacks and nine hits behind Los Angeles’ leaky line. Still lacking any rushing floor and facing a better defense on the road, I’d view Rivers as a high-end QB2 at best at Ford Field. Henry’s loss further damages Rivers’ outlook.
Rivers’ Week 1 target distribution: Keenan Allen 10; Ekeler 7; Hunter Henry 5; Jackson, Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin 3; Dontrelle Inman and Virgil Green 1. … Allen torched the Colts in the short to intermediate games (8/123/1), running over half of his routes in the slot. Week 2 opponent Detroit got waxed by Cardinals slot WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk for 145 yards and a touchdown despite several wide-open Kirk misses by Kyler Murray. As the Lions play man coverage at a top-five rate, it’s notable Allen’s target share has spiked from 22% to 33% on Rivers passes versus man coverage over the past three years (Sports Info Solutions). Allen warrants DFS cash-game discussion in this spot. Henry’s injury should increase Rivers’ reliance on Allen in the red zone. … Playing 92% of Los Angeles’ snaps, Henry was solid-if-unspectacular with 60 yards on five Week 1 targets. He did run 32 routes, seventh most among NFL tight ends in Week 1 and second most of Henry’s career. Unfortunately, Henry is expected to miss at least a month and can be dropped in shallow-bench season-long leagues. … Williams figures to draw most of Lions top CB Darius Slay’s coverage on Sunday, but he should benefit with more scoring-position usage in Henry’s absence. Williams remains a touchdown-or-bust play on low volume. He also missed second-half snaps with a knee injury in Week 1. … Benjamin (48%) and Inman (41%) shared third-receiver snaps near evenly against Indianapolis and lack deep-league fantasy appeal.
Back home from last week’s meltdown in Arizona where Matt Patricia’s team blew an 18-point lead via conservative second-half play calling, the stubborn Lions figure to stick to their establish-the-run mantra versus a Chargers defense that got trampled by Marlon Mack (25/174/1) last week and sacrifices run-stuffing size up front for athleticism. Although Kerryon Johnson’s Week 1 efficiency was lacking, he held a commanding lead over C.J. Anderson in touches (18 to 11) and snaps (57% to 29%). Patricia and OC Darrell Bevell’s RBBC commitment caps Johnson’s ceiling – Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic also mixed into the backfield – but Kerryon should remain a reliable RB2 in the 16-19 touches range. … The Lions’ pass game was much more productive than its Week 1 rushing attack, albeit against an Arizona defense missing both starting cornerbacks. Los Angeles poses a far stiffer challenge with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram creating havoc off the edge, one of the league’s speediest linebacker corps, and playmakers Casey Hayward and Desmond King at corner. Last week, the Bolts limited Jacoby Brissett to 190 yards on 27 pass attempts, and the Colts managed one completion longer than 20 yards. In Detroit’s archaic offense, no one should be surprised if Matthew Stafford’s Week 1 goes down as his best game all year.
Stafford’s target distribution: Danny Amendola 13; T.J. Hockenson and Kenny Golladay 9; Marvin Jones 4; Johnson and McKissic 2; Jesse James 1. … Keep in mind Detroit’s Week 1 box scores were severely inflated by overtime and running 80 plays; last year’s Lions offense averaged 63.7 per game. … Despite leading the team in targets, Amendola logged a 52% snap rate and will now primarily draw Chargers All-Pro slot CB Desmond King. Amendola sets up as a point-chasing trap. … Hockenson does look like the real deal after leading all NFL tight ends in Week 1 Air Yards (142) and being deployed as a legitimate vertical weapon. His 131 yards were most in league history for a tight end in his first professional game. Even as rookie tight ends are typically poor fantasy bets, Hockenson can buck those trends if this usage keeps up. He played 71% of Detroit’s offensive downs. Highly athletic on the second and third levels, the Chargers’ defense did eliminate Colts TEs Jack Doyle (1/20/0) and Eric Ebron (1/8/0) last week. Still, I’d boost Hockensen to into top-ten TE1 range entering Week 2. … For our Draft Kit, I wrote how Amendola and Hockenson’s additions could throw a wrench into Golladay and Jones’ target volume. Jones’ Week 1 involvement was especially discouraging with just four looks among Stafford’s 48 dropbacks. Golladay is the Lions’ lone fantasy-viable wideout for Week 2, even as the likeliest to draw coverage from Hayward.
Score Prediction: Chargers 23, Lions 21