How Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams & More Are Affected by Chase Daniel Possibly Starting vs. Jaguars
David Eulitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Austin Ekeler (left) and Justin Herbert (right).
Well, that escalated quickly.
The Chargers opened Friday morning as 7-point favorites in Week 3 against the Jaguars. By 3 p.m. ET, though, that number was down to 3 at most sportsbooks. Clearly, the assumption is that Chase Daniel will be starting for Los Angeles on Sunday.
Justin Herbert suffered a rib cartilage fracture during Thursday Night Football in Week 2 against the Chiefs. Somehow, he finished the game. His status for Sunday against Jacksonville, though, is firmly in question.
Herbert hasn't been very active at Chargers practice this week, although he has been spotted by the media. He did not throw during the portion of practice available to the media on Friday, at which point the Jaguars vs. Chargers line was already on the move.
Obviously, this has a big impact in the betting world, but it also affects fantasy managers who have any player on the Chargers offense.
Our fantasy experts — Chris Raybon and Sean Koerner — lay out how much they're downgrading each of the Chargers' starting skill players if Herbert does indeed miss this game.
If the Chargers are forced to trot out Chase Daniel in place of Justin Herbert, it goes without saying that it's a downgrade across the board for Chargers skill players. Daniel averages 6.5 yards per attempt and a 3.1% passing TD rate in his career, so even with a strong set of skill-position weapons, you have to knock the Chargers' score projection down by 6-7 points into the low 20s.
Austin Ekeler sees the smallest decrease in my projections. Despite a lower TD projection, Ekeler should see increased usage, as the Chargers are unlikely to go quite as pass-heavy without Herbert, who is averaging 41.0 pass attempts per game compared to Daniel's 32.6 in five career starts. Ekeler is still a low-end RB1 who sneaks just inside my top 10.
Keenan Allen drops to the mid-20s at WR, and Mike Williams to the low-30s/high 40s, though Williams would be a WR3 if Allen isn't able to suit up. Despite a big game last week, Josh Palmer will be off the fantasy radar with Daniel at QB, and Gerald Everett drops to TE20.
And last (and least), Dustin Hopkins goes from one of the top kickers of the week to outside the top 15.
Here are my approximate rankings in 0.5-PPR leagues if Daniel starts on Sunday:
- Austin Ekeler: RB8
- Keenan Allen: WR38
- Mike Williams: WR42
- Josh Palmer: WR70
- Gerald Everett: TE15
Obviously, Herbert's absence would be a big hit to the Chargers offense. I'd expect them to lean on the running game more, but they like to limit Ekeler's ground work anyway. That means Joshua Kelley and Sony Michel could be more involved than usual. I still think Ekeler would be a low-end RB1 who could benefit if Daniel has to resort to checkdown passes often.
Allen would still be a low-end WR3 with Daniel if he plays. The veteran WR could still see plenty of targets and isn't impacted by the lower implied team total because he doesn't rely on touchdowns for his fantasy production.
Williams gets a bigger downgrade since he's a downfield threat who gets plenty of end-zone targets. He'd be a dicey WR4 with Daniel under center, while Palmer isn't playable if Allen is healthy and Herbert is out.
Everett takes a big hit with Herbert potentially out and Donald Parham possibly returning. His ranking has a wider range of outcomes due to the unknown statuses of Herbert, Allen and Parham.