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Week 18 DFS: Chargers-Raiders could provide fireworks with playoff spot on line

By Jordan Vanek, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo Fantasy's single-game offering has a roster construction of one "Superstar" that scores at a 1.5 multiplier, while the remaining four FLEX roster spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the "Superstar" salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

This will essentially be the first playoff matchup of the year, as long as the Colts win. This week, the Chargers will also be close to full strength and will not have anybody on the COVID list. The Raiders could potentially get back Darren Waller but he could be limited due to his conditioning. The other injuries to monitor will be DT Jonathan Hankins, RB Josh Jacobs, and CB Casey Hayward, all listed as questionable.

Vegas Lines

Over/Under: 49

Chargers Implied Total: 26

Raiders Implied Total: 23

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Potential Game Flow Scenarios

Divisional rivalries are always a little bit unique, but in this matchup, I see the Chargers having an advantage over the Raiders as long as they maintain the low-pressure rates they have had in recent weeks.

The Chargers are a top-five passing offense — they rank fourth in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Justin Herbert has had over 7.5 yards per attempt four times in the last five weeks and has thrown for over 270 yards three times. However, in his first matchup with the Raiders, he only had 5.84 yards per attempt which is one of three games he failed to get over six yards per attempt. The credit goes to the defensive line of the Raiders, who pressured Herbert on 39% of dropbacks. In their primary coverage, which is a Cover 3, that number jumped up to 65%. If they cannot get the same kind of pressure, Herbert will find room to get it to these wide receivers for big games.

Against Cover 3, the target breakdown for the Chargers is as follows: Keenan Allen (43), Mike Williams (33), Jared Cook (24) — nobody else has over 20 targets against Cover 3. Allen and Williams are the only two Chargers receivers with a full-time role. Josh Palmer and Jalen Guyton are in a 50-50 split, but Guyton has a higher average target depth and more targets of over 20+ yards. The Raiders have given up 10 touchdowns to tight ends this year and five performances of 70 or more receiving yards. Against wide receivers, they have only given up 10 touchdowns and three performances over 100 yards.

As for the rushing attack, Austin Ekeler returned to his normal role last week, handling 20 touches for 112 total yards and a touchdown. Ekeler has scored a touchdown in seven straight games, and the Raiders are the only team he has run for over 100 yards against. His backup is Justin Jackson, who had 15 touches last weekend for 61 yards, and has earned a role in this offense when Ekeler was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Raiders are giving up 4.2 yards a carry which is one of the better run defenses in the league, but have given up 21 touchdowns to running backs and the seventh most receptions, which bodes well for Ekeler.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 02: Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs the ball during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Austin Ekeler had two touchdowns and 145 total yards in the Chargers' first matchup against the Raiders this season. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

The Chargers will have an advantage through the air if they can protect Herbert, and with them being able to, the offense will be able to get the ball to its playmakers. The Chargers have had over 300 yards in every game since Week 11 and have scored over 28 points in five straight games. I expect the Chargers to be leading early on in the game and be able to score points in the red zone as the Raiders have the worst red zone defense in the entire NFL.

Derek Carr hasn't thrown two touchdowns in a game since Week 10 and has thrown an interception in four straight games. Carr is second in the NFL in 20+ yard passing attempts, but in the last four weeks ranks 26th and has as many completions as interceptions. The matchup doesn't bode well for Carr either, as 11 of his touchdowns have come against Cover 0 or 1, and the Chargers' primary coverage is Cover 3 and Cover 4.

The news on Darren Waller will be a big change to the slate because the Chargers are the worst team in the NFL when defending tight ends. If he is inactive, Foster Moreau will be a popular play for the Raiders, as he has operated as the primary tight end in Waller's absence. As for the wide receivers, Hunter Renfrow leads the group, but Zay Jones has been the clear second option in recent weeks. Jones has had seven or more targets in four straight games and last week had 120 yards against the Colts. Bryan Edwards has been on the field but hasn't had more than three catches or 30 yards since Week 10 despite playing at least 60% of the snaps. DeSean Jackson has a clear role as a deep threat, but that doesn't mean much with Carr's decrease in 20+ yard passes.

Josh Jacobs has the lead role in the backfield, with Peyton Barber and Jalen Richard playing in relief. Jacobs is on the injury report but has had 18 or more touches in five of the last seven games. The game script will be very important when playing Jacobs because if the Chargers get an early lead, it will be very difficult to pay off his salary.

I expect the Raiders to be trailing in this game and not be able to take advantage of the Chargers' poor run defense. Renfrow will see high target volume, and the tight end room will also see high volume whether Waller plays or not.

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Here's a brief rundown of which players would likely benefit the most from various game flow scenarios.

Close, low-scoring game

  • Justin Herbert

  • Austin Ekeler

  • Keenan Allen

  • Jared Cook

  • Chargers DST

  • Derek Carr

  • Josh Jacobs

  • Hunter Renfrow

  • Darren Waller

  • Foster Moreau

  • Raiders DST

Close, high-scoring game

  • Justin Herbert

  • Austin Ekeler

  • Keenan Allen

  • Mike Williams

  • Jalen Guyton

  • Jared Cook

  • Derek Carr

  • Josh Jacobs

  • Hunter Renfrow

  • Zay Jones

  • DeSean Jackson

  • Darren Waller

  • Foster Moreau

Blowout for the home team

  • Justin Herbert

  • Austin Ekeler

  • Keenan Allen

  • Mike Williams

  • Jared Cook

  • Chargers DST

  • Derrek Carr

  • Josh Jacobs

  • Hunter Renfrow

  • Darren Waller

  • Foster Moreau

  • Raiders DST

Blowout for the road team

  • Justin Herbert

  • Austin Ekeler

  • Keenan Allen

  • Mike Williams

  • Jared Cook

  • Chargers DST

  • Derrek Carr

  • Hunter Renfrow

  • Darren Waller

  • Foster Moreau

Cheap/Unique Stacking Option

Superstar, Jared Cook ($16)/Chargers DST ($10)

Cook doesn't have many scenarios where he outscores Justin Herbert, but he has multiple touchdown upside which would allow him to do so and is someone I am interested in. The Raiders have given up the third-most touchdowns in the NFL to tight ends and gave up two against the Chargers the first time around.

Low-Salary Volatile Plays

Foster Moreau, Raiders $15

Moreau is playing full-time in Waller's absence and has had over 60 yards receiving in two of the last three games.

Zay Jones, Raiders $14

Jones has had seven or more targets in four straight games and last week had 120 yards against the Colts.

Jalen Guyton, Chargers $11

Palmer and Guyton are in a 50-50 split, but Guyton has a higher average target depth and more targets of over 20+ yards. They are both the same salary and will need a touchdown or a deep pass to be worth it.

Darren Waller, Raiders $10

News around Waller will be tricky to decipher, and there is a chance he doesn't play that much in the entire game. However, I still am interested because of the salary and the lack of defense the Chargers have had all year against tight ends.

Chargers DST, $10

The Raiders have had 12 turnovers in the last four weeks, and the Chargers play coverages that should limit the big play ability of the Raiders offense.

Raiders DST, $10

If the Raiders can replicate the pressure they had the first time around, they will get sacks and create upside for turnovers. The Raiders haven't allowed over 300 yards in any game over the last three weeks and have had a 45% pressure rate.

Superstar Plays

Justin Herbert, Chargers $36

Deploy multiple pass catchers with Herbert Superstar lineups — in his four games over 30 points, he has completed at least 38 passes and either thrown for over 350 yards or thrown four touchdowns.

Austin Ekeler, Chargers $34

Ekeler has the second most carries inside the 20 this year and the third most inside the five. He has multiple touchdown upside and can get it done on the ground or through the air.

Hunter Renfrow, Raiders $21

Two out of the three 100-yard games Renfrow has had have come from losses this year, and if Waller does not play, I believe he can get the volume needed to be in play for the Superstar position.

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

Jordan was born and raised in South Florida. He started playing DFS at 18 years old. In the last five years, he has had 10 top-10 finishes in GPPs on both Fanduel & DraftKings. His primary strategy for DFS is combining a blend of analytics and film study to perfect his lineups.

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