Week 12 Late Slate Fantasy Preview


    Chargers (-155) @ Cardinals (+3) O/U 48


    Key storylines/What to watch

    Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury could be fighting for his job after falling to 4-7 in embarrassing fashion under the MNF primetime lights of Estadio Azteca. Yes, part of that certainly had to do with missing Kyler Murray (hamstring) for the second straight week, but this also just continues to be a team that gets out-coached on a weekly basis. With promising wideout Rondale Moore also going down with a groin injury on the heels of already losing Zach Ertz (knee) to IR, the fantasy landscape for Cardinals skill players looks bleak down the stretch run to the fantasy playoffs. DeAndre Hopkins (9-91-0 in Week 11) should maintain a steady floor, but will he have the ceiling for fantasy managers to clinch playoff berths especially if Murray’s hamstring doesn’t improve? Kingsbury said that Murray is “trending in the right direction,” but he could be a game-time decision. James Conner also continues to show troubling efficiency, plodding his way to a 3.7 YPC over his last three games.


    The Bolts, meanwhile, will look to feast on the reeling Cardinals after dropping three of their last four games. They finally got a full game return from Keenan Allen, but then maddingly lost Mike Williams again to a re-aggravation of his pre-existing ankle injury. Head coach Brandon Staley has claimed that the re-injury is not considered “significant”, but it’s fair to assume that the odds of Williams suiting up to face the Cardinals are as long as his injury history. Speaking of injuries, TE Gerald Everett remains a question mark after a strange removal and late re-entry to the injury report with a groin ailment before being declared ultimately inactive in Week 11. Fantasy managers could really use a good tight end these days, and the Chargers are facing three consecutive defenses in the bottom-six in terms of fantasy points allowed to tight ends.


    Top Starts


    WR Josh Palmer

    The Mike Williams high-ankle sprain saga continues, opening the door for Palmer to follow up on his 8-106-2 explosion against the Chiefs in Week 11. Palmer is a much better positional replacement for Williams than Keenan Allen since he has played 71% of his snaps out wide where Williams normally resides. The second-year wideout curiously averages 31% fewer receiving yards per game on the road this year, though he also seems to put up bigger plays away from LA having posted nearly two more yards per reception. Regardless, the Cardinals defense has been a passing sieve that just gave up a career-high four passing strikes to Jimmy Garoppolo. Consider Palmer in a prime smash spot here, especially if Gerald Everett (groin) sits again to thin out the target tree further.


    RB Austin Ekeler

    The man with the air guitar is rocking heavier workloads at the perfect time for fantasy managers vying for fantasy playoff spots. Ekeler’s 21 touches last week were the most he’d had since the 24 from Week 6. Arizona presents a very juicy PPR opportunity for Ekeler, having given up the fifth-most receiving yards to opposing running backs, though the Bolts may not have to air it out much in what should be a pretty lopsided contest. Even if the game script leans that way, Ekeler should continue to carry it plenty to control the clock and give QB Justin Herbert some relief from throwing to a depleted pass-catching group. With Christian McCaffrey taking a bit of a usage hit since donning the red and gold, it’s entirely possible that Ekeler takes the reins and finishes as fantasy’s overall RB1 the rest of the way.


    Boom/Bust Dart-Throw


    TE Trey McBride

    I initially had WR Greg Dortch in this spot after delivering a PPR-friendly 9-103-0 line in relief of the injured Rondale Moore (groin). However, it’s since come out from Kingsbury that Dortch actually injured his thumb on a fourth quarter punt return and is undergoing an MRI for further evaluation. That makes him very iffy for the Chargers showdown, giving me an opportunity to instead toss a dart over to the rookie TE McBride. In his first career start in place of Zach Ertz (knee), the former Colorado State Ram standout played 76% of the offensive snaps and reeled in all four of his targets albeit for just 14 yards. The snap share was actually down from the 91% he played the previous game when Ertz actually got hurt, but McBride did run a route on 72% of the combined dropbacks between Colt McCoy and Trace McSorley. While the 9% target share wasn’t great, I’d expect that to grow substantially with Moore and potentially Dortch sidelined, while Marquise Brown is still questionable to return from IR this week and would be on a pitch count according to Kingsbury even if he played. McBride’s draft scouting reports highlighted him as a polished route runner and evoked Hunter Henry comparisons, so there’s definite potential bubbling here for a tortured position in fantasy.


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    Raiders (+3.5) @ Seahawks (-200) O/U 47.5


    Key storylines/What to watch

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