The LA Chargers improved to 5-3 following a thrilling Week 9 victory in Atlanta.
This week, the San Francisco 49ers and Sunday Night Football are on the menu. Let's dive into player and team-level breakdowns.
The Chargers offense:
The Chargers have a 60.7% neutral pass rate, fourth-highest in the NFL through Week 9. This has always been a staple of the Justin Herbert era. In general, a higher neutral pass rate is ideal for fantasy playmakers.
But here's something more interesting: The Chargers' offense is second in the league with 32 red zone trips. Despite this, they're scoring 23 PPG, which ranks 14th. The absence of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams shrinks the list of viable red zone threats. Outside of Williams, it's difficult to pinpoint guys who can win 1v1 in short spacing.
Collectively, DeAndre Carter, Josh Palmer and Jalen Guyton (who is on the IR) own 26.4% of the Bolts' red zone targets, which has resulted in just two touchdowns. Injuries on both sides of the football make it difficult to provide any type of certainty, other than from a weekly basis (as with fantasy options).
Well, besides one guy.
Austin Ekeler | Fantasy RB1
The Chargers' swiss army knife is living up to his designation. Yes, the short answer is that he makes up for rushing volume through the passing game. The important part is that he continues to adapt to his environment.
Through eight games in 2021, Ekeler's seven inside-five carries resulted in four touchdowns. The script has completely flipped this season, yet he's still best amongst his position in fantasy scoring. Hard to ever fade this man.
Gerald Everett | Fantasy TE9
The best thing going for Everett is the potential for a heavier workload following Mike Williams' ankle injury. He's certainly a higher-floor guy, given the nature of his fantasy position. Everett has the most slot targets on the team (23).
Sunday Night Football
The Bolts are road underdogs in Santa Clara. Add that to the slow-paced, run-heavy 49ers offense, and it's safe to envision a trailing passing attack from our side of things.
The 49ers Defense is a mixed bag. They were poor against Kansas City and Atlanta. However, they've allowed just 12.5 PPG in their other six matchups (PFF).
WRs have a decent chance. They've been targeted 36 times against the 49ers over SF's last two games. On the season, more than half of WR targets are <10 yards downfield. This pairs well with Justin Herbert, as 65.8% of his pass attempts are from similar depth (PFF).
Injuries have been a collective drain to morale. Add that to non-existent deadline activity, and you might have a case of the mid-season blues. Hopefully, this piece is a nice refresher heading into the second half of the regular season.