The Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints limp into their Monday Night Football showdown with a bevy of outcome-altering injuries on both sides of the football.
Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has played very well over the last few weeks and his prospects for Monday night are enhanced with the announcement of cornerback Janoris Jenkins’ Out designation (shoulder) late last week. Rotational defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (thumb) and lock down cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) are listed as Questionable. Should Lattimore sit, Herbert’s true ceiling would be unlocked. As it stands now, Herbert is a safe back-end QB1 but would garner mid-tier QB1 attention should the Saints have to play without their top two corners.
Slot receiver Keenan Allen enters the contest with team-high marks in both total target market share (36.17%) and red zone target market share (30.00%). He’s a locked-in WR1 with that kind of usage but would be in contention for a Top 3 scoring finish if Lattimore were to join Jenkins in the trainer’s room.
Mike Williams, the Chargers’ bid-bodied downfield threat, is questionable to play with a hamstring injury. His availability is a true toss-up and his production (were he to play) would likely hinge on Marshon Lattimore’s status. An ailing downfield player is not a great option against Lattimore’s coverage and the Saints’ safety play is stout as well. Consider Williams a risky boom/bust flex option.
Jalen Guyton could be a moderate flex option in this one as the team’s No. 3 receiver and could elevate to No. 2. Guyton has been efficient with his limited workload and could be flexed if Mike Williams sits.
Tyron Johnson caught his lone target of the season for a 53-yard touchdown last week. That play has likely earned him more time on the field moving forward, but not enough for us to start him this week.
With running back Austin Ekeler out for multiple weeks (leg injury), tight end Hunter Henry should see an uptick in targets as the Justin Herbert’s no-prime safety valve option. Henry has been a high-end .5PPR TE2 through four games but now can safely be started as a back-end TE1.
Rookie running back Joshua Kelley should assume lead back duties with Austin Ekeler shelved for the time being. Against a stout Saints defensive front and a 1A/1B expected rotation with veteran back Justin Jackson, Kelly can be deployed as a back-end RB2/high-end flex option. Justin Jackson, meanwhile, is a moderate flex play as a surefire bet for 10 or more touches. Kelley played very well in Weeks 1 and 2, but has petered off over the last two weeks. Jackson should be owned across all formats as a candidate to take the lead job, should Kelley’s dip in production continue. Both backs have handled passing game work efficiently and Justin Herbert has made clear that he likes checking down to running backs. Expect both to see work through the air, with the winner likely seeing a healthy dose of targets.
Drew Brees’ ceiling dropped a bit when it was revealed that Saints receiver, Michael Thomas, would miss Monday Night Football due to an altercation with a teammate. Still, a match-up with the Chargers’ injury-depleted defense allows for a mid-tier QB2 ranking.
Wideout Tre’Quan Smith will retain rights to the team’s X-receiver role that’s helped him to mid-tier WR2 .5PPR numbers over the last three weeks. The Chargers’ would-be good defense has surrended the 10th-highest passing yardage total through the season’s first month of games (1,052) and is tied for the 5th-most passing game touchdowns allowed (8). Assuming Smith sees another decent workload this week, he’s got a chance at a high-end flex/back-end WR2 finish.
With wide receiver Deonte Harris out, Emannuel Sanders should continue his quietly productive ways as the team’s No. 2 receiver. Consider him a high-floor/low-ceiling flex option.
Tight end Jared Cook was able to get in limited practice participation every day this week, which puts him on track to resume his fantasy TE1 ways.
Alvin Kamara is this week’s overall RB1. The exceptionally talented dual threat leads the team in carries, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, targets, receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. The one-man band simply can’t be stopped.
No. 2 back Latavius Murray has totaled between 13 and 15 touches in three of four games this season, culminating in an 83-scrimmage yard/two touchdown performance in Week 4. With the backfield running hot, expect head coach Sean Payton to keep the 1-2 running back-punch humming in in prime time this evening. Murray is a high-end flex option.
TE/QB gadget man Taysom Hill is not fantasy relevant.