When looking at the Week 14 slate of games, this Giants-Chargers matchup is the sexiest or a game that oozes intrigue. However, fantasy gamers will need to rely on many players in this matchup to get themselves into their fantasy playoffs. This will need to be broken down, and break it down we will. Let’s get on with it!
New York Giants
No one mistook these New York Giants for the Greatest Show on Turf. But the Giants’ aerial attack, or lack thereof, is not only bland, but deficient. Injuries have ravaged this unit and continue to do so. If only the Giants had a dependable chain mover (Sterling Shepard) and an electrifying threat with the ball in his hands to bust a big play (Kadarius Toney). Oh wait, they’re both injured. The only entity that can stop Shepard’s threshold on the Giants’ passing game are the soft tissues in his legs. His robust 23.4-percent Target Share ranks No. 24 among qualified wide receivers. His 29.3-percent Target Rate ranks No. 9
Kadarius Toney‘s 28.1-percent (No. 14) Target Rate is not far off. Once he gets the ball, he makes the most of it, averaging 2.29 (No. 19) Yards per Route Run. These two have all the makings of fantasy relevance, but injuries have sapped that production. Both are worth holding on to. But injuries, as well as a tough matchup this week, make them just stashes for now.
On the field, however, the Giants have not gotten enough from big free-agent signing Kenny Golladay.
To be fair to Golladay, injuries have hampered him as well throughout the season. His quarterback play has not done him favors either; only 73.3-percent of his targets have been deemed catchable. That mark is No. 66 among wide receivers. But despite getting an average of 5.23 (No. 10) yards of cushion from opposing cornerbacks, he is generating 1.38 (No. 89) yards of separation and 1.71 (No. 55) Yards Per Route Run. Fellow healthy starting receiver Darius Slayton‘s numbers in these areas look awfully similar. Golladay does have excuses for not living up to the first year of his big contract, but that should not mean he or Slayton still have spots in fantasy lineups at the moment.
On top of everything, the Giants might start Jake Fromm at quarterback. Fromm was signed from the Bills’ practice squad eight days ago! To make matters worse the Chargers defense against the pass is stout. According to Football Outsiders’ pass DVOA metric, they rank No. 8 against the pass. They also allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers (in full PPR scoring). The Chargers are more susceptible against tight ends, however, ceding the sixth-most points to the position. Evan Engram‘s 74.8-percent Snap Share and 78.6-percent Route Participation both sit in the top 15 of the position. Even if normal starter Daniel Jones or backup Mike Glennon were healthy, ignoring this passing attack in this matchup sans Engram (if in a pinch) would be prudent. If Fromm does indeed start, the decision is made for you.
The Giants’ only hope towards competency on offense is feeding the ball to star running back Saquon Barkley. The only problem with that: defenses are aware that is the case as well. After charting the Giants this week and watching every offensive snap, Barkley still looks very shifty and dynamic in space. Unfortunately for him, the Giants are not able to effectively get him the ball in space often. Defenses are also aware that Barkley is the biggest and (often-times) only threat and stack the box to neutralize him. After excluding the final five snaps of garbage time during their last drive of the game, the Giants saw stacked boxes of six or more defenders on 47 of their previous 60 snaps. That would help explain why Barkley averages 3.5 (No. 63) True Yards per Carry.
Week 13 Giants backfield breakdown @CarpentierNFL @rotounderworld:
Saquon Barkley: 48 snaps (of 65), 11 carries 55 yds; 30 routes run (2 slot routes) 9 targets 6 receptions 19 yds
Devontae Booker: 21 snaps, 6 carries 36 yds; 12 routes run (1 slot) 4 targets 4 receptions 18 yds
— Shervon Fakhimi (@ShervonFakhimi) December 8, 2021
At least Barkley has the bountiful Los Angeles Chargers run-funnel defense to look forward to. According to Football Outsiders’ run DVOA metric, the Chargers are dead last against the run (and have been all season). In addition, Barkley’s usage since returning from injury has been elite. He has played at least 75-percent of snaps in every full game he’s played this season except for the two (Week 1 and Week 11) he returned after an injury.
Barkley has also been fed through the air this season.
After registering three targets in his first two games of the season, he has seen at least five in every other game. He just hauled in nine targets this last week after running 30 routes. The nine targets were the most he’s seen all season, and the 30 routes were tied for second on the team. Barkley’s Route Participation (57.8-percent) and Target Share (14.3-percent) rank No. 6 and No. 8, respectively, among running backs. His usage is elite. Barkley is set up to smash this week. The ride has been bumpy, but the payoff will come this week.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning Devontae Booker. He is not a fantasy contributor while Barkley is healthy, but he was when Barkley wasn’t. He played at least 72-percent of snaps in all the four games Barkley missed this season, registering at least 16 touches and three targets in all of them. Booker should not be available in any waiver wire on the chance he stumbles into a lead role again, especially among those still alive and playoff-bound with Barkley on their roster. Crazier things have happened than Devontae Booker becoming a league-winner.
Los Angeles Chargers
Praise Be Lord Herbert
Whatever the opposite of the Spider Man meme is, it is this game. The Giants passing attack is stuck in the mud, while the Chargers’ resembles the Millenium Falcon. It starts with Justin Herbert and his dynamic receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. These two have helped catapult Herbert into the upper-echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL and in the top 10 of many opportunity, productivity, and efficiency stats. Two that stick out? Herbert is No. 5 among quarterbacks in Expected Points Added (+127.1) and No. 1 in Total QBR (67.3). The Giants are a formidable pass defense, but not one that can slow Herbert down.
After Herbert, both Allen and Williams are must-starts. Both have been dominant. Both have Target Shares above 20-percent. Both have at least 16 red zone targets on the season. They are locked and loaded studs. However, both were placed on the reserve COVID-19 list earlier this week. Missing this game is a possibility. Austin Ekeler would get a heftier workload if that were to happen, but that leaves room for another receiver to step up.
The front-runner there is Jalen Guyton.
Guyton has already solidified a role on the team. He’s played at least 50-percent of the snaps in all but two games this season. His 16.1 Yards Per Reception ranks No. 11. Not only does he get targeted deep (11.4 Average Target Distance, No. 40), but he wins deep too, garnishing himself 2.06 (No. 8) yards of separation when getting targeted. Guyton is fresh off a 90-yard, four reception game with a touchdown on four targets last week. If neither Allen or Williams plays, Guyton instantly becomes worthy of a start.
Though Guyton *should* be the next man up, Josh Palmer needs to be watched as well.
The rookie third-round pick from Tennessee has seen the field more and more as the season has progressed. Though Guyton has played the role of a downfield threat, Palmer’s damage is done closer to the line of scrimmage (7.9 Average Target Distance). If Allen and Williams can’t play, it opens the door for Palmer to usurp Allen’s role, while Guyton steps into Williams’ shoes. Guyton has a more secure role if those two are available. But if the Chargers are without both, Guyton and Palmer both are worthwhile plays in seasonal leagues and DFS darlings at their price.
Normally, there isn’t enough room for a tight end here to be useful for fantasy purposes. Jared Cook and Donald Parham have both been great as big-bodied weapons for Herbert, but have also cannibalized each other’s production. If Allen and Williams are out of the picture, however, that would free up targets for Cook and Parham to contribute. Cook has played more snaps than Parham, so he’d get the edge in seasonal leagues. Parham should still be stashed in dynasty leagues, however.
What the Ek?
Austin Ekeler did not play his best game last week, coughing the rock twice in what could have cost the Chargers the game. However, he still crushed for fantasy off the heels of another touchdown and five more receptions. Remember when Ekeler couldn’t score touchdowns? Me either. He’s already up to 15 (!!!) on the season. He has 45 red zone touches, which is No. 3 among running backs. This drastic change in usage around the goal line has transformed him into a league winner.
He’ll keep trucking along this week. Remember how the Chargers are No. 32 in run DVOA? Well, they’re the only run defense worse than the Giants. Add to it the massive 15.4-percent Target Share and all is set up for Ekeler to smash yet again.
QB: Justin Herbert is great.
RB: Both Austin Ekeler and Saquon Barkley are set to smash.
WR: Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are great starts if available. Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer would be good ones too if Allen and Williams can’t go.
TE: Ignore only if Allen and Williams can’t play. If they don’t: Jared Cook over Donald Parham.
Giants: Ignore all but Saquon Barkley.
Chargers D/ST: can flip pivotal Week 14 matchups.
These two teams are trending in polar opposite directions. Vegas agrees, bestowing the Chargers as 10.5 point favorites. The Chargers cover and then some with the game hitting the over Vegas designated at 44. Chargers win 34-14.