September 26, 2022, 5:53 pm
Jaguars 38, Chargers 10 (Jags covered +6.5, O 45.5)
Key Postgame Stories
Despite a huge upset win over the Chiefs earlier in the day that finally landed the Colts in the win column, the Jags (2-1) now sit atop the AFC South after a convincing rout of the embattled Chargers. In the process, Jacksonville also snapped an agonizing 18-game road losing streak (eighth-worst in league history) and appear at the very least to be emerging out of the league’s basement into contender status.
Trevor Lawrence (262-3-0 passing, 3-7-0 rushing, 25.1 total fantasy points) finally seems to be taking a step forward now three weeks into his sophomore year, and the underrated Jags defense capitalized on a banged up Chargers team to the tune of a shocking 26 net rushing yards while recording a sack, interception and fumble recovery. Not that it’s a complete excuse for the poor showing, but the Chargers were missing (or lost mid-game) arguably five of their best players due to injury — C Corey Linsley, WR Keenan Allen, CB J.C. Jackson, DE Joey Bosa and LT Rashawn Slater. This is obviously not counting QB Justin Herbert (297-1-1 passing, fumble lost, 13.5 total fantasy points), who played through fractured rib cartilage and obviously wasn’t physically able to put forth his best performance, turning the ball over twice himself.
Despite getting a season-high 16 touches in this game, RB Travis Etienne (13-45-0 rushing, 3-30-0 receiving, 9.0 total fantasy points) continues to struggle with efficiency and has settled into a low-floor flex option. There’s nothing to suggest so far that he’s anywhere close to supplanting James Robinson in the pecking order and finishing better than RB30 seems like a long shot right now.
*Please note that all fantasy points are based on 0.5 PPR
RB James Robinson (17-100-1 rushing, 3-16-0 receiving, 19.1 fantasy points)
After spending basically all offseason as a screaming draft value at an ADP of RB38, Robinson has shined and currently stands as RB2 (behind only Nick Chubb, and before MNF scoring) in half-PPR after hitting the century mark in rushing for the first time in a game since last October. He has defied all expectations of what a torn Achilles recovery is like for a running back, so fantasy managers who took a flier in the late rounds have to be feeling great about him. Doug Pederson and the coaching staff clearly trust Robinson to carry the load and don’t seem remotely interested in making Etienne a workhorse. The usage should continue to give Robinson a safe floor. Plus with a combined point differential of +52 in their past two games, the Jags could also be operating in more positive running game scripts than originally expected.
WR Zay Jones (10-85-1 receiving, 19.5 fantasy points)
Even though Christian Kirk (6-72-1 receiving, 16.2 total fantasy points) had a solid fantasy day himself, his teammate Jones takes the top performer spot here among wideouts after an even bigger day. This is the second time in three games that Jones has commanded at least nine targets, and he’s clearly showing that an improving Trevor Lawrence and new stable coaching staff means there can be multiple fantasy-viable receiving weapons on this team. While Lawrence often targeted Jones in the short and intermediate parts of the field, he also had a 16-yard catch and is averaging 9.1 yards per reception through three games. Kirk is still entrenched as the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville, but the 27-year-old Jones appears poised to have a career-best year and presents high-end flex value moving forward (previously best was a 56-652-7 line in 2018 with Bills).
RB Austin Ekeler (4-5-0 rushing, 8-8-48 receiving, 9.3 fantasy points)
As someone who has featured Ekeler in various buy-low and top-start spots in recent weeks, I’m ready to take this one on the chin. It’s gotten ugly out there in the early going for Ekeler, and after averaging 2.5 and 2.7 yards a carry in the first two games, it cratered to an unfathomable 1.3 against the Jags. The only saving grace was strong involvement in the passing game with a team-high eight receptions as the game script enabled him to put up a decent PPR floor coming from behind. But understandably, fantasy GMs who invested an early first round pick in Ekeler don’t just want J.D. McKissic, otherwise they would’ve just waited for McKissic at the end of their drafts. Sony Michel actually ended up with more carries than Ekeler (5-4), but things should revert back to normal and the Chargers should have a much easier time moving the ball in Houston next week. Ekeler managers cannot panic, they simply need to appreciate the PPR floor and hope for brighter days ahead especially once Herbert’s ribs get healthier and Linsley gets closer to returning to the offensive line.
WR Mike Williams (1-15-1 receiving, 8.0 fantasy points)
This game without Keenan Allen was unfortunately not like the first one for Mike Williams. Despite finding paydirt on a highlight reel back-shoulder catch to salvage an otherwise disappointing fantasy day, that would be Williams’ lone catch of the day despite drawing six targets (third on the team). I had predicted in the preview for this game that Herbert’s ribs would limit his deep-throwing ability that would obviously affect Williams’ game, but clearly I was wrong. Herbert is simply a freak who can chuck a missile while scrambling off his back foot 54 yards with banged up ribs better than most QBs can fully healthy in a set position. We simply need to chalk this up to an off-game for Williams and expect him to grow his target share from this one with or without Allen’s return.
Final score: Rams 20, Cardinals 12 (Rams covered -3.5, U 48.5)
Key Postgame Stories
The defending Super Bowl champs have looked fairly mortal to date, especially after near-disaster with the Falcons last week, but they did just enough to fend off the Cardinals and their aerial barrage that saw a staggering 58 passes from Kyler Murray – more than double Matthew Stafford’s attempts on Sunday. The Rams defense hunkered down and did well to limit big plays, giving up no run longer than 10 rushing yards and no pass longer than a 30-yarder from early season PPR waiver gem WR Greg Dortch (9-80-0 receiving, 12.5 total fantasy points).
Cooper Kupp (4-44-0 receiving, 1-20-1 rushing, 14.4 fantasy points) had a pedestrian receiving day by his standards, but was saved by a 20-yard scoring rush to still put up an average final point total. It was a strange and off day all-around for the Rams passing attack, as former seventh-rounder WR Ben Skowronek actually paced all LA pass-catchers with 66 yards. TE Tyler Higbee (4-61-0, 8.1 total fantasy points) still managed a passable line that actually was good for TE12 on the week, but more importantly he continues to stay very involved from a target share perspective and should continue to be a solid startable option at a tough position.
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RB Cam Akers (12-61-1 rushing, fumble lost, 10.1 fantasy points)