NFL Grind Down Week 2: Chargers vs. Lions

Vegas Overview

LAC @ DET Team Spread Total Implied Moneyline
DET 2.5 47 22.25 112
LAC -2.5 47 24.75 -128

Betting Quick Take: In general, I try to bet as few of road favorites as I can over the course of the season. It’s a little different when we are dealing with a large spread like the Patriots facing the Dolphins because we clearly expect that game to play out in a certain way. The Chargers are the more talented team in this game, but they are traveling West to East to play an early game against the Lions. I wish the line was +3 for the Lions, but I’ll still take the points. I have more interest in betting the over. The Chargers have serious problems on the offensive line, which could force them to air it out on the fast track in Detroit. Both of these pass defenses looked beatable in Week 1.

Lions +2.5 / Over 47
Confidence Level: 6 out of 10

Injury Situations

Player Team Pos Status Part Impact
Hunter Henry LAC TE O Knee 8
Mike Williams LAC WR Q Knee 8
Geremy Davis LAC WR D Hamstring 1

Injuries to Monitor:

San Diego — The Chargers received some awful news this week, as Hunter Henry has a small fracture in his knee and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks. There are rumors that Antonio Gates could come out of retirement, but for now Virgil Green will be the top tight end for San Diego. Thursday is typically a key day for injured players and Mike Williams wasn’t able to practice. He is listed as questionable, but might be closer to doubtful after hurting his knee in Week 1’s contest against the Colts. With Henry already ruled out, we could see a highly concentrated target share for the Chargers. The Chargers are still without Russell Okung, Derwin James, and Trevor Williams, which hurts their play on both sides of the ball.

Detroit — No major injuries for the Lions heading into Week 2.

Other News and Notes: I will always preach avoiding judgments based on small sample sizes. While that’s true for the entire NFL after only one week of play, it might apply to the Lions more than any other team. They faced the Cardinals in Week 1, whose goal is to be the fastest-paced offense in the NFL. The box score was inflated due to the matchup and the fact that the game went into overtime.

Matchup Factors, Team Identity Metrics, and Game Flow Expectations

Expected Game Pace and Tempo: Even though this game is being played indoors, it could be one of the slower-paced games on the schedule. The Chargers and Lions were both ranked in the bottom nine in seconds per play in Week 1 and based on past trends, these aren’t teams that are looking to push the tempo. The positive for this game is that the Chargers might be forced to air it out given their offensive line concerns. On average, passing attempts lead to more clock stoppages and average more yards per play than rushing attempts. While the pace might not be in the top half of games this week, there is still upside for both offenses. The Chargers are banged up on both sides of the ball and the Lions aren’t the most intimidating opponent for Philip Rivers.

Detroit Lions Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FDFT
Matthew Stafford DET 16.87 QB23 36.72 267.17 Rank 15 Rank 7 Rank 17 Rank 15
RB Team Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar% Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FD
Kerryon Johnson DET 12.98 RB21 53% 10% Rank 21 Rank 30 Rank 31 Rank 15
C.J. Anderson DET 6.79 RB55 33% 4% Rank 48 Rank 46 Rank 42 Rank 44
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FD
Kenny Golladay DET 14.52 WR18 23% 8.45 Rank 16 Rank 56 Rank 9 Rank 43
Marvin Jones DET 10.9 WR48 18% 6.61 Rank 39 Rank 52 Rank 26 Rank 44
Danny Amendola DET 10.66 WR52 17% 6.24 Rank 38 Rank 8 Rank 32 Rank 49
T.J. Hockenson DET 9.76 TE10 17% 6.06 Rank 10 Rank 2 Rank 15 Rank 10

LAC 18-19 Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 24/RB Rank 6/WR Rank 25/TE Rank 22

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snap Share: Johnson 57%, Anderson 30%
Rushing Attempts: Johnson 16, Anderson 11
Targets: Johnson 2, Anderson 0

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:
YAC: Johnson 34, Anderson 20
Los Angeles’ Run DVOA in 2018: 10th

We should always be careful when it comes to a one-week sample size. After the Lions got rid of Theo Riddick, many were excited about the prospects for Kerryon Johnson heading into the season. He was disappointing in Week 1 against the Cardinals, racking up only 62 yards from scrimmage. C.J. Anderson had a bigger role than most of us expected, as he played 30% of the snaps and took 11 carries away from Johnson. We currently have the projected rush split at 53% to 33% for Johnson, which is a concern heading into Week 2’s matchup against the Chargers.

Running back is one of those positions where you can’t afford to miss. In general, the distribution for quarterback scoring is generally narrow and we know that running back is one of the deepest positions in all of DFS. This is why most of us exclusively use running backs in the flex. I’m still higher on Johnson than most and the injuries to the Chargers’ defense makes this matchup more appealing. We saw Marlon Mack run wild against Los Angeles last week, but that was largely thanks to a terrific offensive line for the Colts. I’ll take Johnson over Anderson for this game, but don’t see either as particularly appealing options for Week 2’s main slate.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snaps: Golladay 98%, Jones 81%, Amendola 53%, Hockenson 73%, James 58%
Target Share: Golladay 20%, Jones 9%, Amendola 29%, Hockenson 20%, James 2%

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:
Los Angeles’ Pass DVOA in 2018: 10th
Los Angeles’ DVOA vs. TE in 2018: 1st

When healthy, the Chargers have a very good defense. However, safety Derwin James and cornerback Trevor Williams are both on the IR and it looks like they could be without cornerback Michael Davis in Week 2. This is a big boost for the Lions’ offense as a whole and it doesn’t hurt that they are playing at home on the fast-track in Detroit. Matthew Stafford is one of those quarterbacks that we rarely look to in DFS or even in season-long leagues for that matter. He always seems to end up in the top 18 in fantasy production at the end of the year, but he doesn’t offer much of a ceiling in a low-volume passing offense. He aired it out 45 times against the Cardinals in Week 1, but don’t take the bait. They were facing the fastest-paced team in the NFL and that game went into overtime.

It’s safe to say Detroit’s target share didn’t go as expected against Arizona. Danny Amendola racked up 13 targets, T.J. Hockenson racked up nine targets, and both topped 100 yards and they each found the endzone. Once again, these numbers were largely inflated due to a matchup against the Cardinals, who were missing two key pieces in their secondary. Amendola is an easy fade in my eyes, but I still have interest in Hockenson on DraftKings ($3,000). His measurables coming out of college were similar to those of Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. While I hate targeting players coming off of big fantasy outings, it’s hard not to like him at this price point. The Chargers were first in DVOA against tight ends last season, but are playing without their strong safety. This is a better matchup for Hockenson than most will realize.

Two of the biggest fantasy busts in Week 1 were Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. They had dream cornerback matchups and were basically non-existent for most of the game. We still have them projected as the leaders in terms of projected target share in this offense with Golladay at 23% and Jones at 18%, so this could be an intriguing buy-low spot for both wideouts. It can be tough to predict WR/CB matchups, but it looks like Golladay will run most of his routes against Casey Williams, who is still an above-average corner. Jones will run most of his routes against Davis and/or his backup. I doubt I’ll have a ton of exposure to the Lions’ passing attack, but would rank their wideouts in the following order: Hockenson, Jones, Golladay, and then Amendola.

Team Quick Summary: The Lions aren’t a team that I plan to roster often this season, especially when they are featured in the main slate. They are playing at home against an injured Chargers’ defense, so the matchup is a little better than most realize. I doubt I’ll have any exposure to this backfield and Stafford doesn’t provide the upside that I’m looking for in a quarterback. There are two intriguing options in the passing game. With James out for the Chargers, Hockenson has another solid matchup and he’s still only $3,000 on DraftKings. Jones should have the better cornerback matchup between himself and Golladay and is worth a look in large-field tournaments.

Los Angeles Chargers Projections Breakdown

Team Projections

QB Team Proj Rank ProjAtt ProjYds Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FDFT
Philip Rivers LAC 17.57 QB17 36.66 278.70 Rank 25 Rank 27 Rank 24 Rank 14
RB Team Proj Rank ProjRu% ProjTar% Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FDFT
Austin Ekeler LAC 17.08 RB8 58% 15% Rank 8 Rank 3 Rank 37 Rank 12
Justin Jackson LAC 9.01 RB37 37% 7% Rank 46 Rank 39 Rank 40 Rank 29
Derek Watt LAC 0.32 RB88 3% Rank 75 Rank 76 Rank 75 Rank 76
WR/TE Team Proj Rank ProjTar% ProjTar Pts/$ FD Pts/$ DK Pts/$ Y Pts/$ FD
Keenan Allen LAC 18.48 WR6 29% 10.45 Rank 4 Rank 29 Rank 30 Rank 21
Mike Williams LAC 10.12 WR55 16% 5.87 Rank 62 Rank 77 Rank 79 Rank 70
Travis Benjamin LAC 6.12 WR93 10% 3.67 Rank 82 Rank 73 Rank 64 Rank 71
Dontrelle Inman LAC 3.44 WR108 6% 2.20 Rank 96 Rank 91 Rank 95 Rank 93
Hunter Henry LAC 11.02 TE8 16% 5.87 Rank 7 Rank 8 Rank 16 Rank 3

DET 18-19 Fpts Allowed: QB Rank 17/RB Rank 20/WR Rank 18/TE Rank 18

Rushing Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snap Share: Ekeler 75%, Jackson 25%
Rushing Attempts: Ekeler 12, Jackson 6
Targets: Ekeler 7, Jackson 3

Rushing Efficiency Metrics of Note:
YAC: Ekeler 43, Jackson 18
Detroit’s Run DVOA in 2018: 13th

The Melvin Gordon holdout isn’t going to end anytime soon and after Austin Ekeler went nuts against the Colts, the Chargers hold all of the leverage in the situation. Heading into Week 1, I was expecting somewhere in the range of a 60/40 split between Ekeler and Justin Jackson, which is why I didn’t end up using the former in my main slate lineup. I was clearly wrong about my workload projection, as Ekeler played 75% of the snaps and saw 68% of the opportunities in this Chargers’ backfield. His efficiency was off the charts, racking up 154 yards from scrimmage and scoring three touchdowns. He now has four career starts under his belt and has topped 17 touches in every one of them.

With Russell Okung out, this offense is going to focus on a quick passing attack. Add in the fact that Hunter Henry is out and that Mike Williams is highly questionable and we could easily see Ekeler break into the 20% range for his target share. I would put his target floor at five with the potential for double-digit targets if the Chargers are playing from behind. The Lions held David Johnson in check in Week 1, but he should have scored a touchdown if he didn’t run out of bounds near the goal line. They are an average run defense at best and Ekeler should see plenty of high-value opportunities once again. Dollar for dollar, he should be considered one of the top running back targets of the slate.

Passing Game Opportunity Metrics of Note:
Snaps: Allen 83%, Williams 64%, Benjamin 48%, Inman 42%, Henry 91%
Target Share: Allen 83%, Williams 64%, Benjamin 48%, Inman 42%, Henry 91%

Passing Game Efficiency Metrics of Note:
Detroit’s Pass DVOA in 2018: 31st
Detroit’s DVOA vs. TE in 2018: 26th

We are only one week into the season and Philip Rivers could already be without three of his weapons. Melvin Gordon is still holding out, Hunter Henry is out for the foreseeable future, and Mike Williams wasn’t able to practice on Thursday. This will help concentrate his target share and is obviously good news for the fantasy appeal of his wideouts, but it’s tough to make a case for Rivers without three of his weapons and without his left tackle. I expected the Chargers to employ a quick passing attack against the Colts and that’s exactly what we saw in Week 1.

Even if Williams is able to suit up this week, the matchup and the state of this offensive line sets up well for Keenan Allen. Old man Larry Fitzgerald got loose against the Lions last week and we should see Allen run more routes in the slot now that Tyrell Williams is in Oakland (Williams ran roughly 1/3 of his routes in the slot last season). Allen caught 8-of-10 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown against the Colts and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a similar performance in Week 2. We currently have him with a 29% projected target share and that could be even higher if Williams is unable to suit up. Allen isn’t getting a lot of buzz around the industry and I’m not sure why. He offers a high floor and a high ceiling, which can be said about very few receivers in the main slate.

The rest of the Chargers’ passing attack hinges on the availability of Williams. We know he’s incredibly talented and has big play potential, but even if he’s active, he could easily tweak his knee injury. Whether or not he’s able to practice on Friday should give us a good idea of his status for Sunday’s game. If Williams is unable to suit up, we should see a significant boost in snaps and targets for both Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman. These aren’t the most talented wideouts in the NFL, but both are close to min-salary across the industry. Volume is the key to NFL DFS, so both could become viable tournament punts if Williams is unable to suit up.

Team Quick Summary: Similar to the Saints, the Chargers are quickly becoming a two-man show on offense. There are too many red flags to make a case for Rivers right now, but most of his targets should funnel to Ekeler and Allen. The absence of Henry and potentially Williams as well should open up even more targets for Ekeler and Allen. From a point-per-dollar perspective, they both rate out as elite plays at their respective positions. If Williams is active, I will avoid all other Chargers’ wideouts. If Williams is eventually ruled out, we can look to Benjamin and/or Inman as tournament fliers.

DFS Recommendations

Optimal DFS Plays: Austin Ekeler, T.J. Hockenson (DK)

Leverage Plays: T.J. Hockenson (FD), Keenan Allen, Marvin Jones

Secondary Plays: Kenny Golladay, Travis Benjamin & Dontrelle Inman (if Mike Williams is out)

About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

    Interview after $100,000 Win

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