This week the Chargers will face the Broncos…wait this sounds familiar, didn’t this just happen? Yes, yes it did. Just 2 weeks ago, the Broncos traveled to San Diego where they were handed their second loss of the season. Last time, Josh Lambo and Hunter Henry were the best fantasy options. Are they good plays this go around, or should we expect other players to step up? Read on and find out.
Denver has no shortage of storylines heading into this week’s tilt at home. They just came off a week where they assured the world that they made the right decision to not re-sign Brock Osweiler. Their formula for success in their Super Bowl run last year was to play elite defense and control the clock on offense with safe, smart play.
This year’s team has some different faces, but the same game plan. The running game features CJ Anderson again, but he suffered a knee injury that looks like it will keep him sidelined against the Chargers. (and likely longer) The Broncos shouldn’t be overly concerned if that is the case, however. Rookie Devontae Booker took the majority of the snaps last week and played fairly well rushing for 83 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He also caught a pass for 4 yards. Booker is a borderline RB1 with a great matchup against a weak Chargers run defense.
Outside of an explosion against the Bengals in week 3, Trevor Siemian has been a below-average fantasy option. Against the Chargers in week 6, he threw for 230 yards and a score with no interceptions. He had an efficient day, but for fantasy purposes, it’s nothing to write home about. The Chargers have been making strides to improve the pass defense despite losing cornerback Jason Verrett for the year to an ACL tear. Their secondary has proven very capable, and Joey Bosa has been as good as advertised notching 4 sacks in just 3 games played. Siemian is only a desperate play in single-QB formats this week.
The receiving options in Denver have been pretty consistent despite average quarterbacking and a ground control game script. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas have been high-end WR2s this season. Thomas only has 2 games where he hasn’t caught a touchdown or gained 90 yards, and Sanders only has 3 such games. Both players struggled the last time these squads faced off, but I would expect both to play better. In week 6, the Broncos didn’t have head coach Gary Kubiak, and their offense as a whole seemed sluggish. At home with more experience under Siemian’s belt, I see both receivers getting a little more involved. I would bet on low-end WR2 numbers for both players, and if you can throw either of them in as a flex play, you are golden.
Denver’s defense had 2 sacks and 2 turnovers against the Chargers a couple weeks ago, and there is no reason to expect anything vastly different this go around. They are a weekly start against all but a small handful of offenses. The Chargers are second only to the Atlanta Falcons in points-per-game this season, meaning the Broncos defense isn’t a shoo-in for a great fantasy day. I would still start them unless you have a much better option, as good defenses find a way to produce.
The Broncos really do not utilize any tight ends in the passing game, so they should not be utilized on your fantasy team. Brandon Mcmanus is decent streaming option this week as the Broncos should be able to move the ball against the Chargers defense.
Players to start for the Broncos
- Devontae Booker
- Broncos D/ST (lower end starting option)
- Brandon McManus
- Demaryius Thomas (low-end WR2)
- Emmanuel Sanders (low-end WR2)
Players to sit for the Broncos
- Trevor Siemian
- CJ Anderson (injured)
- All Broncos Tight Ends
- Can the Broncos passing game perform better in the rematch vs. the Chargers?
San Diego Chargers
Signature wins for the Chargers! After fumbling away a few losses after leading in the 4th quarter, the Chargers finally sealed the deal against the Falcons after beating the Broncos in week 6. Will that stupendous momentum come to a screeching halt because of the impending visit to Mile High Stadium?
There may not be a bigger surprise in fantasy football than Melvin Gordon. After not scoring a touchdown his entire rookie year, he has 10 total touchdowns through 7 games. That pace cannot be sustainable forever, but he has been averaging 19.7 carries per game, making him very difficult to take out of lineups despite his matchups and inefficiencies. (just 2.9 yards-per-carry) The Chargers ran him 27 times against Denver last time to try and avoid passing against the league’s best pass defense. I would expect another heavy workload for Gordon, making him at least an RB2 in standard leagues even if he can’t find the end zone.
Phillip Rivers has played admirably this season despite working with a banged up supporting cast. Against Denver however, he may not be the best option. When these teams met a couple weeks ago, Rivers had his lowest yardage total of the season. He is probably best left on the bench with a weak matchup.
Speaking of that supporting cast, it will be tough to pick out which Charger will be Rivers’ favorite target in the passing game week-to-week. The options seem to be limitless. After Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, and Stevie Johnson went down, other players stepped up. Notable players in the passing game to have significant outings other than the aforementioned players: Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Hunter Henry, Travis Benjamin, and Antonio Gates. Credit must be given to Rivers to make these players look like they belong in starting roles on a regular basis. It is also a testament to the depth the Chargers have on the offensive side of the ball.
The problem from a fantasy perspective is picking which player will have the big game in a particular week. As we mentioned before, it was Hunter Henry who stepped up against the Broncos in week 6. The Broncos usually blanket opposing wideouts better than any team in the NFL. In two wide receiver sets, Chris Harris covers the #2 receiver, and in three wide receiver sets, Harris moves inside to cover the slot and Bradley Roby comes onto the field to cover the outside man.
The Chargers move their top-3 receivers all around the formation. Dontrelle Inman plays the majority of his snaps from the slot, but Travis Benjamin can also occupy that role. Hunter Henry has even been split into the slot receiver role on occasion. Because of this tendency to interchange, it becomes difficult to predict which matchups certain receivers will see more of. San Diego will do it’s best to find the matchups that are working and exploit them. All of that makes it very difficult to predict which Chargers receiver (or tight end) will be worthwhile to start against Denver. Henry is probably a decent start because of his prior success against Denver. I would not give a ringing endorsement to any other receiving options for San Diego this week.
The Chargers defense held Denver to 13 points in week 6. I would be willing to bet that a home crowd pushes Denver to a few more points despite the improvements San Diego seems to be making on defense. This makes the Chargers D/ST a desperate play, but one that could turn a couple points for you. Josh Lambo is an average start considering that the Chargers had decent luck moving the ball against Denver.
Players to start for the Chargers
- Melvin Gordon
- Hunter Henry
- Chargers D/ST (low-end starter)
- Josh Lambo (but you could probably do better)
Players to sit for the Chargers
- Phillip Rivers
- Travis Benjamin
- Dontrelle Inman
- Tyrell Williams
- Antonio Gates
- Which Charger’s receiving option will step up this week?