Koerner: Fantasy Football Start/Sit Strategy for Chargers-Raiders

Koerner: Fantasy Football Start/Sit Strategy for Chargers-Raiders article feature image

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyrell Williams, Darren Waller

  • Sean Koerner is here to help you make your Thursday Night Football fantasy start/sit decisions.
  • See which Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders players are must-plays (or stay aways).

There’s more strategy to Thursday Night Football fantasy sit/start decisions than people realize.

The No. 1 rule? Don’t use your Flex spot (if you can). It offers you flexibility come Sunday, so blocking the utility of this lineup spot on TNF only hurts you.

Now let’s run through whether to start or sit key fantasy players tonight. For more specific sit/start decisions, you can use my updated rankings.


Philip Rivers, Chargers

With six teams on bye, Rivers is a low-end QB1 and a strong start this week with a high floor as he should have his way against the Raiders. Unlikely to see much pressure, he should pepper Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler with open looks for most of the game.

Despite leading the Chargers to five drives inside the red zone last week, Rivers didn’t pass for any touchdowns. But that’s the type of bad luck that usually corrects itself in a similar situation the following week.

A 300-yard, two-touchdown game is likely for Rivers tonight.

Derek Carr, Raiders

Carr will be more involved in sit/start discussions for tonight as he’s part of the massive QB14-22 tier in my projections — less than one projected point separates those nine quarterbacks in my rankings.

If you have access to Jacoby Brissett, it makes sense to wait and see if he’s able to suit up against the Dolphins. If he doesn’t, Brian Hoyer is a good backup plan. Outside of that option, I would play this sit/start call straight up — if Carr is the highest ranked QB you have access to, start him.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Derek Carr

I prefer QBs like Daniel Jones and Ryan Tannehill over Carr this week as they have similar passing projections but also offer rushing stats, which gives them an edge. Since Carr offers zero rushing stats, his final rank will depend on how many touchdowns he throws tonight. I give him a 50/50 chance of throwing two or more — which would likely lock him in as a high-end QB2 — but the flip side is a 50/50 chance of one or none, which would put him in the low-end of QB2 results this week.

Carr is essentially a coin flip tonight.

Running Backs

Melvin Gordon, Chargers

Gordon finally had a breakout game after his unsuccessful holdout. He went off for 20/80/2 rushing and 3/29/0 receiving. We can tentatively readjust our projections to align with his preseason expectations and treat him as a high-end RB2 this week.

Austin Ekeler, Chargers

Just because Gordon had a breakout game did not mean Ekeler was relegated to a flex/bench RB. He still has a prominent role in this offense. In fact, newly-appointed coordinator Shane Steichen was able to perfectly balance the two RBs, making them both playable this week.

Consider Ekeler a low-end RB2 tonight.

fantasy-football-ppr-rankings-rb-week 4-2019
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Austin Ekeler

Josh Jacobs, Raiders

Jacobs is a must-start as a low-end RB1 this week.

Rodney Hudson and Trent Brown are game-time decisions, but if both are active, it’ll boost our expectations for Jacobs. If they’re ruled out, it’ll ding our expectations a bit but would not warrant benching the rookie back.

Wide Receivers

Keenan Allen, Chargers

Don’t let the past six games make you do something crazy like bench Allen.

He’s likely over the hamstring injury that’s been slowing him down and should bounce back with a great game tonight. He’s a fade recency bias, low-end WR1 this week.

Mike Williams, Chargers

I’ve been calling Williams a buy-low candidate for a couple weeks now and he finally exploded for a 3/111/0 game last week. His real value is in the red zone with his huge 6-foot-4, 218-pound frame.

We figured he would regress from his 10 TDs in 2018, but having zero through nine games is downright silly. No other WR (or player for that matter) is more due for a TD than Williams. He’s a low-end WR2 tonight.

Tyrell Williams, Raiders

Tyrell is sort of bizarro Mike Williams. He’s scored a touchdown in all five games played heading into last week. I warned he was eventually going to burn you once he ended that streak, which he did against the Lions with a 3/48/0 line.

Still, with six teams on bye this week, he’s a low-end WR3 with the added bonus of the #RevengeGame narrative facing his former team.

Hunter Renfrow/Zay Jones, Raiders

A lot of people are considering plugging Renfrow in as a WR3/Flex this week. If he is a start based on a combination of my rankings, your roster and WRs available on the waiver wire, then great. However, we need to manage our expectations after a 4/88/1 and 6/54/1 game. I’m projecting him for a 3.2/33/0.26 line as of writing — we cannot bank on his skill set to maintain this high TD rate, and his target share should also drop with Jones’ role growing.

Renfrow and Jones should cancel each other out tonight as one could have a good game while the other puts up a dud. Jones ran 92% of the snaps last week to Renfrow’s 54%, but I could see some of the volume shifting to Jones.

Overall, this is a situation to avoid if you can.

Tight Ends

Hunter Henry, Chargers
Darren Waller, Raiders

Henry and Waller are my respective TE3 and TE4, which makes this a loaded game for the position.

I have Henry pegged for a 5.2/62/.42 line and Waller a 5/54/0.4 line. Waller has cooled off over his past two games, but it’s important to remember how volatile even the top TEs can be week-to-week. You should start him with confidence.

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