NFL Grind Down: Week 10 - NFL DFS Picks and Strategy

Written by ChrisGimino

Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the statistics, insights and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.

NOTE: Games will be published as they are completed. Primetime matchups are free for all users. Main slate breakdowns can only be accessed by Premium subscribers.

Every game will be broken down statistically, with several key elements highlighted in our charts. Vegas lines are broken down to show projected team totals, to give you an idea of who is favored to win, and often more importantly, how many points they’re expected to score. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow.

Vegas Overview

LAC @ OAK Team Spread Total Implied Moneyline
OAK 1.5 49.5 24 106
LAC -1.5 49.5 25.5 -122

Betting Quick Take: The Chargers -1.5 is what I want here. They have underperformed their ability, and some key metrics give me confidence that they can win in this spot. They have a strong offensive yards per play matchup with the Raiders vulnerable pass D. The Raiders could be missing key offensive linemen, a pillar of strength for their offensive play to date. The Chargers defense just showed us signs of life against a tough Green Bay team. The Chargers are undervalued on the NFL odds board in my view.

I don’t like that this is the more public side or that this isn’t the best of the number (the Raiders were once favorites), but I still like the idea of the Raiders not having what it takes to get it done on Thursday. My expectation is that the passing game gets it going for LAC, and they clear the 2 points needed to cash my ticket.

Side: Chargers -1.5

Confidence Level: 8 out of 10

Injury Situations

Player Team Pos Status Part Impact
Josh Jacobs OAK RB Q Shoulder 10
Justin Jackson LAC RB Q Calf 4
Travis Benjamin LAC WR O Quad 3

Raiders Injuries to Monitor: Oakland center Rodney Hudson did not play on Sunday and is trending questionable (DNP>LP>LP) for the Chargers. His replacement Andre James was evaluated by Pro Football Focus with one of the single worst individual game grades I’ve ever seen in his absence, and it could hurt both their run and pass blocking if Hudson is out again. Tackle Trent Brown is also questionable (DNP>LP>LP) after suffering an injury this past weekend. David Sharpe played 64 snaps in his absence, and did so competently against the Lions. Josh Jacobs is good to go.

Chargers Injuries to Monitor: We don’t have a ton of consequential injuries to watch for DFS wise. Geremy Davis and Justin Jackson are doubtful, so you can erase them from your most dubious and maniacal plots to win this showdown slate the hard way. Travis Benjamin remains out. On defense, DT Brandon Mebane (LP>LP>LP) is questionable while LB Denzel Perryman (DNP>DNP>DNP) is a game time call. Both players have had struggles this season, but you’d rather have them when facing an emerging and violent Josh Jacobs charging out of the Raiders backfield. S Roderic Teamer will miss this game as well, with run rate defenders Jaylen Watkins and Rayshawn Jenkins starting at Safety.

Other News and Notes: Both the Chargers and Raiders will be playing Thursday night after just three days of rest. This is somewhat important for the banged up Raiders offensive line. The line has been a tremendous point of strength for a Raiders offense that ranks very highly almost across the board in key efficiency metrics. Oakland is 2nd in “Early Down Success Rate”, 4th in Yards per Play, 3rd in “Third Down Success Rate”, 4th in adjusted line yards, and 5th in overall DVOA. There might not be a bigger downgrade at center by the numbers than Rodney Hudson to Andre James, and the Chargers stepped up last week with 14 pressures on 40 drop backs against Green Bay. This is for sure something to monitor during actives/inactives. The Raiders’ highly efficient offense could suffer some against a Chargers defense that played quite well last week.

Matchup Factors, Team Identity Metrics, and Game Flow Expectations

Expected Game Pace and Tempo: The Raiders are slow at the line of scrimmage, operating around 30 seconds per play (almost) regardless of time and score. This is part of their overall struggle to fire off a high play volume, leading them to the 7th lowest total play volume in football. They have made up for this for fantasy purposes by playing efficient offense, ranking 4th in yards per play and 3rd in positive play percentage per Sports Info Solutions. Projecting them at a very bland 59-62 plays is fair. Their team total is 24 points, which puts them as slight home underdogs.

Overall: The Raiders should keep this game close if they can continue to play well on the offensive line. Three TDs sounds right to me and I don’t see them going completely wild.

The Chargers are also below average in seconds per play at the line of scrimmage, and run a below average volume of plays per game. They rank 10th in Yards per play and face the inefficient Raiders defense that allows the 5th high rate in the same category. I would expect the Chargers to increase their efficiency in this matchup, and have a slight chance of that leading to an above average play volume. They are small road favorites after starting the week as underdogs, and I agree with the line movement here. The Chargers should win this game and possibly exceed their 25 point team total.

Overall: I like the Chargers to come into Oakland and do as they please on offense, exceeding their seasonal efficiency and implied total.

Oakland Raiders Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Rank Proj ProjAtt ProjYds
Derek Carr OAK 17.11 QB17 35.58 265.08
RB Team Rank Proj ProjRu% ProjTar%
Josh Jacobs OAK 15.04 RB10 71% 7%
DeAndre Washington OAK 3.59 RB51 19% 2%
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Tyrell Williams OAK 13.75 WR19 21% 7.68
Zay Jones OAK 6.39 WR69 10% 3.75
Hunter Renfrow OAK 9.14 WR54 15% 5.43
Darren Waller OAK 14.64 TE4 23% 8.61
Foster Moreau OAK 4.85 TE28 8% 2.81

LAC Adj. Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 27/ RB Rank 8/ WR Rank 23/ TE Rank 24

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Last 3 Gm MS Rush, Jacobs: 67%, 65%, 78%
Last 3 MS Rush, Washington: 19%, 22%, 8%
MS Tar last 3, Jacobs: 10%, 7%, 7%
MS Tar Last 3, Richard: 3%, 10%, 14%

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:
Jacobs Yards Created per Carry Rank: 6th
LAC Expected Points Added Rushing: Rank 12th Most
LAC Rush DVOA: Rank 25th Best

The video tape evidence on Josh Jacobs shows us a beast, running with intensity and creating yards for himself and displaying violent tendency. The metrics agree, but also show us a back who lacks involvement in the passing game and risks being limited in negative game script. This matchup with the Chargers is fair, but not amazing. Some metrics support the idea that they are vulnerable to the run (Like DVOA), while others suggest a more mediocre spot (EPA, explosive run%, Early Down Success Allowed all middling). I would suggest middling is the most likely outcome, with TDs deciding his fate for DFS.

There is every potential for Jacobs to have a fine rushing game, and his dominance at the goal line (#5 in the NFL in raw volume) gives us plenty of reason to consider him. However, I’ll call him just a secondary target due to a few factors:

A) Expected ownership in the top 5
B) Potential outcomes that include too many negative game scripts
C) Injuries on the offensive line that could marginally impact their overall offensive efficiency.

Obviously you can play him, but I might suggest you can setup LineupHQ to include less of him than the field if you want to roll with my opinion on the game flow / risks.

Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are upside darts in showdown. Richard would be the guy to build with if using a “Chargers leading” game script. Washington is cheaper and you are mostly betting on a random big play or TD. The target share and raw count has increased for Richard recently, but it’s not enough to consider it as more than a game script dependent play that is well correlated with the rest of any lineup you use him in.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Williams Target Share, Last 3: DNP, 20%, 14%
Waller Target Share, Last 3: 25%, 26%, 7%
Renfrow Target Share, Last 3: 10%, 13%, 29%

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:
LAC Rank 11th Most in Passing Expected Points Added
LAC Rank 23rd best in Pass DVOA
LAC Rank 4th in WR Target Success Rate Allowed
OAK Rank 2nd fewest in QB Pressure allowed

All things being equal, it’s a fine spot for Derek Carr but there are some reasons to believe all things won’t be equal. Their starting center missed the last game, and it was a tremendous downgrade to the next man up. C Hudson is questionable again as is T Trent Brown, which could really put them in position to play worse than usual up front if either misses the game on the short week. Should Carr find himself under duress, it would impact what has been premier level efficiency for their offense as a whole. The Chargers have underperformed on defense as well, which is something I believe they can turn around in the second half. This is evidenced by their strong performance last week against a very good Green Bay Offense, and their ability to get pressure on the QB (rank 8th in sack%, 10th in blown pass blocks forced). Carr is very usable in single game contests due to raw projection, but my lean will be away from multiple raiders paired with him and towards the Chargers stacks.

Individual matchups are very interesting in this game for a few reasons. Let’s start with former Charger (#revenge) Tyrell Williams, who should see plenty of snaps against elite cover corner Casey Hayward. It hasn’t been all roses for Hayward in 2019, and meanwhile Williams has been very efficient with his opportunity. That said, I still project that moving forward Hayward will limit production against his opponents and that Williams will NOT score a TD in every single game. Ownership will not be that high on Williams (mid pack), and that does offer some intrigue for DFS. Otherwise, if you think matchup matters at all this is not a great situation for “The Gazelle.”

Darren Waller may be in position to bounce back some if Hayward is able to keep the ball away from Williams. Here is a list of TEs the Chargers HAVE NOT faced: Waller, Kelce, Ertz, Kittle, Engram, Andrews, Hooper, Henry. That is what I like to call a list of anyone who matters. Their low rank in adjusted fantasy points allowed to the “TE” in meaningless as a result, particularly since Waller hardly operates in the passing game like your average TE. His ownership will also not be out of control after a down week (just 2 targets vs. DET), making him a potential leverage point in your DFS single game builds.

As for the rest of the Raiders, I rank them as follows: Zay Jones (should be lower owned than Renfrow), Foster Moreau (differentiation option in showdown getting some high leverage looks near the goal), Hunter Renfrow (should be owned more than usual based on two decent weeks in a row), Anyone else in Silver and Black (dart throws).

Team Quick Summary: I am shorter on the Raiders than the field, but I like Darren Waller best among the group for Showdown.

Los Angeles Chargers Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds
Philip Rivers LAC 17.88 QB12 36.72 277.43
RB Team Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar%
Melvin Gordon LAC 14.98 RB13 63% 9%
Austin Ekeler LAC 13.67 RB17 27% 15%
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar
Keenan Allen LAC 16.51 WR11 24% 9.37
Mike Williams LAC 12.88 WR28 19% 7.42
Hunter Henry LAC 15.35 TE2 22% 8.59

OAK Adj. Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 2/ RB Rank 18/ WR Rank 2/ TE Rank 3

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:
MS Rush, Gordon Last 3: 76%, 67%, 52%
MS Rush, Ekeler Last 3: 24%, 25%, 31%
MS Tar, Gordon Last 3: 8%, 10%, 14%
MS Tar, Ekeler Last 3: 21%, 10%, 15%

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:
OAK Rank 19th most in Rushing Expected Points Added
OAK Rank 11th best in Rush DVOA
OAK Rank 20th highest in explosive run% allowed
OAK Rank 29th in Rush TD % overall and inside 10

If I am to believe the metrics on Oakland as a run defense, then the reason I want to play Chargers backs is more as pass catchers than as runners. Oakland has really done a good job preventing rushing production, but the Chargers backs have skills in the pass game that make we want to use them anyway.

We all saw Melvin Gordon have his best fantasy game in a long time vs. Green Bay, but that team is much worse by the numbers than Oakland on the ground. Hidden by the game script and multi-TD performance was the fact that Gordon saw a lower % of team carries under the new OC while seeing a (slight) increase in target %. It’s not wildly actionable information, but it’s enough for me to believe that the narrative on Melvin Gordon “growing” role could get out of hand as compared to the reality.

The reality is that Austin Ekeler still owns a fair amount of the passing game work in this offense and could be 1/2 as owned as Gordon. It’s also possible that Ekeler gets his fair shake at the goal line as well, and I would not instantly assume Gordon’s dominance in that area of the field. I would certainly not expect it to the degree that ownership will suggest.

On DFS single game slates, Ekeler is an elite Captain option due to his ownership, explosive playmaking, pass catching, and reasonable goal line potential. Gordon is a secondary option for me due to ownership, but highly viable based on raw projection expectation. It’s more of an underweight than a fade for me if I’ll have multiple lineups.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Allen Target Share Last 3: 30%, 35%, 15%
Henry Target Share Last 3: 22%, 21%, 37%
Williams Target Share Last 3: 16%, 21%, 15%

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:
OAK Rank 2nd highest in Pass EPA
OAK Rank 29th best in Pass DVOA
OAK Ranks Highest in Explosive Pass % Allowed
Oak Ranks 4th in Pass TD%

It’s a dream spot for the ascending Chargers, looking to cling to playoff life after yet another disappointing start to a season. Philip Rivers is constantly involved in close games, and the only way this one doesn’t stay close is if the Chargers passing offense smashes the pathetic Raiders pass defense. I think that is highly possible, and builds that reflect that will be very chalky on this slate. You’re going to have to eat some chalk someplace when you’re talking about single game contests, and for me that is what I will do with Philip Rivers. He belongs in optimal builds.

Keenan Allen will be a top 2 player in ownership tonight, and that is mostly because nobody on the Raiders can cover him. He seems to pull this kind of disappear / reappear hijinx every season. Last week, he disappeared. This week against a pass funnel defense, he should be reappearing in a big way. WRs have torched the Raiders in 2019, and we should be expecting the same here for Allen in Week 10. He’s going to belong in optimal build strategies tonight if your sole focus is raising your fantasy points floor. In GPP, we could have the ownership conversation but I’m ultimately going to suggest play over fade.

Hunter Henry and Mike Williams should carry similar ownership in the mid range tonight, and I see both as having merits for a big game. Based on schedule adjusted fantasy points, both WRs and TEs have performed in the top 3 vs. OAK. Based on average target depth and explosive plays allowed, Mike Williams is in a massive upside spot against a Raiders defense that allows explosive plays at the league’s highest rate. We saw this last week against the Lions, and there is little doubt the Chargers will test downfield again this week. Williams is a tremendous play based on this along, but I would also footnote the downside. His low target volume would mean he busts if he can’t reel in one of his downfield targets. Henry has equal upside thanks to target volume and viable presence as an end zone target. I like both as leverage plays considering matchup and upside, and my feeling that the Chargers will produce well through the air.

You can safely ignore the balance of Chargers pass catchers or merely enrich your MME builds with a tiny sprinkle of darts with them. This offense is almost fully concentrated on the players already mentioned.

Team Quick Summary: I love the Chargers in this spot, and want to consider ownership when I use somebody like Austin Ekeler as one of my Captains tonight. The rest of the Chargers are also captain viable if you prefer a more traditional route.

Quick Kickers and Defense Take: I favor Michael Badgley if you are looking to use a kicker in this game by a small margin, and the Chargers defense by a wide margin over the Raiders defense.

DFS Recommendations – Showdown

Optimal DFS Plays: Keenan Allen, Philip Rivers

Leverage Plays: Darren Waller, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler

Differentiation Plays: Chargers D, Michael Badgley, Zay Jones, Jalen Richard, Foster Moreau

Secondary Plays: Derek Carr, Melvin Gordon, Josh Jacobs, Tyrell Williams

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