Chargers vs Browns Week 5 fantasy outlook: Big chance for Austin Ekeler

Oct 2, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) at the line
Oct 2, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) at the line / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers were able to get their heads above water following a 34-24 victory in Houston. Their road trip continues on Sunday against the Browns.

Our friends at WynnBET Sportsbook currently have the Bolts as 2.5-point favorites, along with a game total of 47.

It's beneficial to use "Vegas" as a tool. Skill players, to one extent or another, are dependent variables on their team's offense. Traits at the team-level help paint a picture of how a game script could play out.

Chargers vs Browns Week 5 fantasy outlook:

1. Passing and offensive pace

Through four weeks, Cleveland has a neutral pass rate of 51.6%, good for 20th in the NFL. The Chargers come in with a top-three pass rate of 64.4% (via

According to Football Outsiders, the Browns also rank 20th in neutral pace at 31.7 secs/play, while the Bolts are 8th (29.7).

This discrepancy shouldn't come as a surprise if the name Nick Chubb rings a bell. Cleveland's offense literally runs through him. More forward, It's of little interest for Jacoby Brissett to challenge Justin Herbert's abilities outside of the structure.

Tough to imagine the Browns straying away from their identity. On the flip side, things could differ for the Bolts.

2. Favorable matchup for Chargers' ground game

It's another week of preparation without stars Keenan Allen (Questionable) and Rashawn Slater. Their absence certainly has an impact on passing volume, and so does this matchup.

Cleveland has the league's worst PFF run defense (33.0) and tackling (36.0) grades. The second-worst run defense? None other than last week's opponent, the Texans (37.0).

It wouldn't be dumbfounding for the Chargers RB room to have a field day. Assuming play-calling attacks the blatant mismatches, there's valuable intel at our disposal for fantasy purposes.

3. Austin Ekeler

Leading up to Houston, Austin Ekeler had zero carries for over 10 yards on the season. He left town with a total of four (via PFF).

Combine the favorable matchup against Cleveland's run defense with Ekeler leading his entire position in targets (29) and you'll likely only leave Sunday disappointed if Michel or Kelley feed into these valuable opportunities.

4. Gerald Everett

This one is crucial to monitor. Here we have the Thursday injury report, and like Keenan Allen, Gerald Everett appears to be dealing with a hamstring issue.

Since week two, Everett is averaging seven targets per game. He trails only Mike Williams (8) in team red zone targets on the season (via PFF).

A limited Thursday practice is critical for availability as we coast into the weekend. Dating back to Allen's injury, Everett has complimented Williams in the short and intermediate parts of the field on a weekly basis.

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His role between the 20s and in the red zone makes him a consistent streaming option at TE, a position not exactly abundant in fantasy options.