Chargers-Rams fantasy football preview for championship weekend

Nick Spanola
Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Rams
Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Rams / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages
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The Chargers look to keep it rolling against Baker Mayfield & the "visiting" Rams following their playoff-clinching victory on MNF.

As things stand, the Bolts (9-6) own the AFC's No. 6 seed, just behind the 10-5 Baltimore Ravens. Jumping up a slot is enticing because the No. 5 seed plays the winner of the AFC South.

Bare minimum.. the Chargers need to win out. For fantasy purposes, it's one of the best green flags you could hear at this point in the regular season.

Let's break the Chargers-Rams Week 17 game down from a fantasy perspective.

LAC has the edge under center, and the markets appear to think the same. This one comes down to finding the end zone and maintaining a second-half lead.

QB Justin Herbert hasn't thrown a TD in two-straight contests, which helps explain a season-low 8.5 PPR points vs IND.

What's interesting is he recorded his longest average time to throw in a game this season at 3.23 secs/dropback (PFF).

Over 19% of Herbert's passes were behind the LOS heading into Week 16. On Monday, he threw at just a 6.5% clip. Dwindling attention to Austin Ekeler underneath could be starting to show face.

The Rams allow 0.136 dropback EPA/play, 30th among defenses (rbsdm.com/stats). However, the damage hasn't unfolded thru air yards. According to Pro Football Reference, LAR sees the second-lowest defensive ADOT at 6.3.

LAC has the worst PFF run block grade (45.1), while LAR owns the top run defense grade (90). Earning a W and fantasy production shall live/die by the pass.

Pass Catchers

Wideouts have a favorable matchup, as the Rams allow an NFL-high 70.5% catch rate to the position. Further, they give up 18.9 fantasy PPG to receivers lined up out wide- also a league-high (The Edge).

Since returning from injury in Week 11, Keenan Allen is the fantasy WR4. Although his bread & butter is the slot, Allen still leads the team in receptions (15), catch rate (83.3%), and target/route run (40%) out wide over this stretch.

His usage could expand even further since Ekeler is questionable. This, of course, opens up some unknowns- considering the RB's imprint throughout the playbook. Only Joe Lombardi knows how that share gets diced up.

Xs & Os

It'll be interesting to see how CB Jalen Ramsey is deployed- whether he moves around or locks onto a WR in coverage. According to The Edge, 69% of LAR's fantasy points allowed (thru the air) have come while in Cover 3/4.

Proportion of the following vs Cover 3/4:

WR

PPR Pts

Targets

Yards

Joshua Palmer

59.4%

54.3%

57.9%

DeAndre Carter

53.8%

50%

52.8%

Mike Williams

48.6%

44.4%

46.6%

Keenan Allen

47.6%

42.6%

54.7%


Joshua Kelley

Next man up if Ekeler's out. If you're still alive/playing in traditional formats, Joshua Kelley is at least worth the stash.

He's tallied 19 carries over the past two games, and 49% of his receiving routes occurred in the last month of play (PFF).

If Kelley ever gets a hold of this backfield, even if it's just for a week, he's in line for elite fantasy touches. Ekeler had 4 rushes inside the five-yard line on MNF, including a red zone target. Sometimes you've just got to let volatility work in your favor.

MORE: Chargers fans owe Brandon Staley an apology

Thanks for reading and go Chargers!

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