September 24, 2022, 6:17 pm
Jaguars (+3) @ Chargers (-175): O/U 42.5
Packers (+1) @ Bucs (-115): O/U 42
Rams (-180) @ Cardinals (+3.5): O/U 48.5
Falcons (+1) @ Seahawks (-115): O/U 42
Jaguars vs. Chargers
Key Storylines/What to Watch
The biggest storyline here has to be Justin Herbert’s ribs. After suffering fractured rib cartilage in their Week 2 loss to the Chiefs, Herbert has been day-to-day all week with limited practices each day but didn’t throw during Friday’s period of practice open to media. Head coach Brandon Staley had stated at the start that the ribs aren’t likely to be a lingering issue, and at this point the limited practices would point to him playing against the Jags even if it’s a matter of some pain tolerance. If he isn’t able to generate his normal torque as a result of the sensitive ribs, it’s possible he won’t challenge downfield as often as normal. That could mean more check downs to Austin Ekeler.
Aside from Herbert, there are a couple of All-Pro Chargers with injuries to watch closely, like C Corey Linsley (knee) and CB J.C. Jackson. Linsley will be key to protecting Herbert from taking any more shots to the ribs, but has missed back-to-back practices. Jackson, who returned in Week 2 and played all offensive snaps but was unfortunately burned by Justin Watson for a 41-yard touchdown, similarly missed consecutive practices and is iffy.
On the other side of the ball, Jacksonville comes in with some legit swagger after shutting out a divisional rival in Indianapolis in dominating fashion. Trevor Lawrence appears to be quietly showing some post-hype growth in his second year, so far grading out above average in passing according to PFF while sneaking into the top-10 in completion percentage thus far. It’ll be interesting to also see how their two youngest offensive linemen, C Luke Fortner and LG Ben Bartch, continue to progress in run blocking as they’ve only been able to support a 2.6 YPC despite a positive bounce-back start for RB James Robinson.
RB Austin Ekeler: While the matchup with the Jags defense itself is fairly neutral, Ekeler makes for a top start because he’ll likely be relied on particularly heavily with such a banged up roster on the passing side. He’s also seen a very encouraging jump in usage week over week, including running more than double the routes he did in the opener. The Chargers have a healthy competition behind him with Joshua Kelley and Sony Michel getting their share of snaps to keep their lead back fresh, but Ekeler fantasy managers should expect to strum the air guitar a few times in this one.
WR Christian Kirk: Even against a tough Colts secondary last week, Kirk made short work of their secondary and scored twice. He’s squarely in the driver’s seat as the target hog (27% target share) in a quickly-improving young offense. The rapport he’s been building with Lawrence has clearly earned him some faith from his coaches, so he should continue to eat. Kirk’s matchup in the slot against Bryce Callahan (Jackson would likely be on the outside with Marvin Jones Jr. and Zay Jones) is actually not particularly favorable on the surface, but Kirk has the size advantage and has just been flat out good.
WR Keenan Allen: After missing last week’s game because of his ailing hamstring, Allen now has yet to get a full practice in this week. Pair that with an also banged-up quarterback, and you’re probably going to also be hurting in the points column if you start Allen this week. Hamstrings can easily be aggravated and teammate Mike Williams is the much more reliable fantasy start this week especially with a much better matchup against CB Tyson Campbell.
RB Travis Etienne: The possibility still remains that this can develop into a reliable two-headed fantasy backfield where both Etienne lives up to his draft hype and James Robinson’s torn Achilles comeback comes full circle. But as long as Robinson is outsnapping Etienne 25-8 on running plays and running more receiving routes, the latter is going to continue to embody a true boom/bust player. A few things that are promising signs for Etienne include his fourth-best average yards per touch (6.6) and sixth-best yards per reception (10.2) among running backs.
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Packers vs. Buccaneers