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Fantasy Football Week 15: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders start 'em, sit 'em, how to watch TNF and more

You can watch "Thursday Night Football," Chargers vs. Raiders, exclusively on Amazon Prime Video at 8:15 p.m. ET.

The Las Vegas Raiders host the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football. Perhaps better said, half of what once was the Raiders host half of what once was the Chargers as both teams are facing a disastrous end to the regular season.

The Raiders and Chargers share the same 5-8 record through Week 14. The two franchises are coming off losses (three in a row in the case of Las Vegas, mind you). The two squads won’t have the player at arguably the most important position available after Justin Herbert went down Sunday, and, well, the Raiders have been dealing with quarterback issues all season.

Justin Herbert headshot
Justin Herbert
QB - LAC - #10
2023 - 2024 season
3,134
Yds
241.1
Y/G
65.1
Comp Pct
20
TD
93.2
QBRat

Perhaps most interesting, however, is the fact that while both franchises would benefit from simply shutting the operation down and losing the remainder of their schedules, both have a coach fighting to stay put next year. Will any of the coaches lift the pedal from the metal knowing that more losses would seal their firing? Will any of the front offices allow their HC to lose knowing that’s better for the team's future? Tough decisions!

The Chargers opened the week as three-point favorites on the road with an over/under set at 34.5. Those figures, of course, factored in Herbert’s injury only to an extent, pending further examinations. That’s why oddsmakers flipped the equation and ultimately settled on Las Vegas as the favorite for TNF’s matchup by those same three points, while the total points projection went down to 33.5 but ended up back at the original mark.

The Raiders have the fifth-worst offense at 15.5 points per game to Los Angeles’ middle-of-the-pack unit scoring 21.7 points per contest. Although the combination yields a total average above 37, the truth is that these two teams have been awful of late, and you'd probably be in the right if you erred on the safe side of things by betting the under.

How do the Chargers and Raiders arrive at their TNF matchup?

If you watched the Raiders game last weekend from start to end, congratulations.

Las Vegas hosted Minnesota on Sunday, and the teams combined for … three points. Already into the fourth quarter. With less than two minutes remaining. Sheesh.

Not only did the Raiders struggle mightily against the Vikings, but they also kept rookie backup quarterback Aidan O’Connell on the field for the full length of the game while losing running back Josh Jacobs in the fourth quarter to a knee injury.

It’s not that Jimmy Garoppolo would've fixed the Raiders offense, but O’Connell is a 63.8% passer with four touchdowns and seven interceptions to his name. He seems to have little chance of earning a living in the NFL as a starter for long, and Las Vegas was still trying to win to make it to the playoffs this season.

Aidan O'Connell headshot
Aidan O'Connell
QB - LV - #12
2023 - 2024 season
2,218
Yds
201.6
Y/G
62.1
Comp Pct
12
TD
83.9
QBRat

Not anymore, folks.

The same goes for the Chargers, who endured not only a loss on the scoreboard last Sunday but also one on the season as a whole when Justin Herbert went down with a fractured index finger. With the quarterback finished for the year, the season is over for the Chargers.

Truth be told, that has been the case for a while. Los Angeles entered TNF having lost four of its past five games, with the only win coming on a 6-0 victory against the New England Patriots. Barring a 41-38 defeat to Detroit in Week 10, the Chargers have failed to score more than 20 points in four consecutive games, topping at 10 in their previous three.

TNF Week 15: Injury Report

On top of Herbert being lost for the season, WR Keenan Allen, the best Chargers playmaker, suffered a heel injury. He did not practice Wednesday and was ruled out for Thursday.

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs was his stubborn self and tried to play through pain, carrying the ball 13 times for a meager 34 yards against the Vikings, but he ultimately went to the locker room limping in the fourth quarter due to a quad injury. He was listed as questionable this morning but has since been ruled out.

Josh Jacobs headshot
Josh Jacobs
RB - GB - #8
2023 - 2024 season
805
Yds
61.9
Y/G
3.5
YPC
6
TD
63
Long

Davante Adams did not practice Wednesday, listed with an “illness” in the final injury report released by the Raiders. He wasn’t in the report Monday or Tuesday, so he should play as long as he is not feeling under the weather Thursday.

A few more players have graced both franchises’ injury reports throughout the week, some of them potentially impacting fantasy decisions. Tight end Gerald Everett was limited earlier this week but logged a full practice Wednesday. Joshua Palmer is back from IR, with the wideout having missed all games between Weeks 9 and 14, but he logged three full-participation practices before TNF.

One stat that can swing the balance

The Chargers allow the fourth-most yards per game … but the Raiders average the fourth-fewest. What gives?

There is no sugarcoating how awful the Raiders offense has been of late, and though the Chargers unit hasn’t been that bad (it ranks a mediocre 17th league-wide, mind you), they will have to play without their starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.

Both franchises have solid defenses (which is why they're still in “fake contention” to make the postseason), but now that they are closer to the No. 1 pick than a wild-card berth and facing the home stretch of the season without some of their best playmakers, things can get even uglier for them.

With Justin Herbert out, the Chargers will use Easton Stick as their starter. Stick replaced Herbert on Sunday and completed 13 of 24 passes for 179 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He threw a 57-yard pass to rookie Quentin Johnston, but that’s mostly it. No need to mention Johnston’s struggles all season, making his Week 14 outing a bit of a fluke.

The Raiders are expected to start O’Connell (we’ll see if he ends the game on the field or the bench, however), and there is even the chance for a platoon approach on TNF. No matter what they do, they won’t lose (or win) anything for trying.

Not completing third- and fourth-down plays is going to hurt these two teams’ chances at advancing the rock and piling up numbers. That’s bad for the outlook of talented players such as Joshua Palmer (the new WR1 of the Chargers with Keenan Allen out) and Davante Adams.

Both Allen and Adams failed to score double-digit half-PPR points in two consecutive weeks each, just for context.

With Raiders rusher Josh Jacobs ruled out and Chargers running back Austin Ekeler finally bringing his A-game back to the table in Week 14, the Bolts RB looks like the most solid and safe play this week among those involved on TNF.

Other than that, it’s slim pickings and blind trust.

One player to start, two to fade

Start in all leagues and use in DFS: RB Austin Ekeler (LAC)

If you drafted Austin Ekeler back in August, then you have probably kept him around for the full season, and though he has gone through some ups and downs, he surely paid off last weekend. He played his best game in a month after failing to crack double-digit fantasy points the prior three outings.

Austin Ekeler headshot
Austin Ekeler
RB - WAS - #30
2023 - 2024 season
628
Yds
44.9
Y/G
3.5
YPC
5
TD
55
Long

You’re likely starting Ekeler every week, but even more so on TNF against the Raiders. He is also a legitimate Superstar pick for single-game DFS contests today. Ekeler can do it both on the ground and through the air, and he tends to carry a high floor with him every week, simply because of his high volume.

The Raiders struggle the most against the run game, allowing the eighth-most yards per carry and rushing points per game entering Week 15. They have allowed an average of 21.8 FPPG to opposing backfields this season, the sixth-worst average in the NFL.

Ekeler didn’t play against Las Vegas in Week 4, so we don’t have a reference point. That said, Ekeler has been great of late when facing subpar defenses against the run. He has scored at least 18.5 half-PPR fantasy points in three of his past four matchups against below-average defenses vs. fantasy RBs.

Bench/avoid streaming: Gerald Everett (LAC)

With Justin Herbert out and Easton Stick starting for the Chargers, Gerald Everett might look appealing to you as a potential safety valve getting sought by the backup quarterback. Everett was targeted eight total times last weekend, splitting those looks evenly between Herbert’s and Stick’s passes.

Gerald Everett headshot
Gerald Everett
TE - CHI - #14
2023 - 2024 season
411
Yds
27.4
Y/G
51
Rec
3
TD
70
Targets

Everett finished 5-of-8 for 39 yards and no touchdowns, but only two receptions and 15 yards came with Stick on the field. Week 14 marked the second week in a row in which Everett finished with exactly 6.4 half-PPR fantasy points.

Back in Week 4, when both teams met for the first time, Everett had one of his worst games of the season, catching two passes for nine yards and 1.9 FP. The Raiders are a tricky matchup for tight ends, as they allow the highest catch rate to players at the position, but they have limited them to only three touchdowns through the entire season.

With Everett being very touchdown-dependent (he failed to break more than 6.5 FP in all games in which he did not catch a touchdown) and having scored just three TDs through 11 games played, it’s better to fade the tight end and look for alternative streamers this week.

Fade in DFS: Davante Adams ($24)

You’re not sitting Davante Adams in most leagues as one of the prime players at the position. If Keenan Allen had not been ruled out, I’d have opted for him instead of Adams for a single-game DFS fade.

Davante Adams headshot
Davante Adams
WR - LV - #17
2023 - 2024 season
1,144
Yds
67.3
Y/G
175
Targets
103
Rec
8
TD

If Garoppolo gets some playing time in the event that O'Connell gets benched, then Adams would get a bit of a boost (he’s averaged 14+ FPPG with the veteran QB). But if O’Connell plays the full game, then Adams should be a no-go on TNF for most fantasy GMs that can afford to sit or fade him.

Adams has averaged fewer than 10 FPPG in the games started by the rookie quarterback. When he broke the double-digit barrier in Week 10 and Week 11, he needed 13 targets (six and seven receptions, respectively) each time to get there.

O’Connell has targeted Adams more than any other player on the Raiders offense (nearly 32% of the targets went his way), but he has also misfired the most when aiming at the superstar wide receiver (almost 24% of his targets were inaccurate/uncatchable). With that outlook, Adams looks more like a potential WR3 than a WR1 today.

One player to scout as a prospective waiver-wire pickup

Raiders RB Zamir White (8% rostered)

I have seen a few analysts pushing for Zamir White as the No. 1 waiver wire target of Week 15 following the news of Josh Jacobs’ injury last weekend. That might be the right move to make and a solid one this late in the regular season, if only because White should inherit an RB1 role for most of TNF with Jacobs ruled out.

Zamir White headshot
Zamir White
RB - LV - #3
2023 - 2024 season
451
Yds
26.5
Y/G
4.3
YPC
1
TD
43
Long

That said, I’m including White in this section and not as a must-start player for a reason: He doesn't have a proven track record of positive production, let alone proof enough to use him as a starter in lineups or single-game DFS contests.

Last Sunday, White rushed the ball two times and gained 8 yards. Ameer Abdullah, the other Raiders rusher, is expected to get more use on pass plays. He got one carry last weekend (12 yards) and two receptions (7 yards).

The Raiders have a disastrous running offense, mind you, ranking dead-last in rushing yards per game (80.6) even with Jacobs available for their first 13 games of the season.

White will be valuable on TNF only if he finds the end zone or gets a massive workload (which is not guaranteed). He won’t be a factor in most fantasy leagues outside of deep ones.

If you’re needy at the position or a GM in one of those deep formats, give White a chance for the final few games of the season if Jacobs isn’t brought back by the Raiders in what is already a lost campaign for them.