News & Analysis

Jahnke: Fantasy football reactions from the Saints' MNF win over the Chargers

In a Monday Night Football matchup that featured the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader going up against a first-round rookie quarterback in his fourth career start, it was the Los Angeles Chargers‘ first-year passer who stole the show.

Even though Justin Herbert recorded four touchdowns on the day, it still wasn’t enough to overcome the New Orleans Saints offense in overtime. While there wasn’t much change in the Saints offense compared to recent weeks, the Chargers' player usage was very interesting, given that they were without their top rusher and top receiver.

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As always, this collection of fantasy reactions will include snap counts for skill players on each team, along with notes on players who saw their fantasy stocks rise or fall during the action. 

Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints

Los Angeles Chargers New Orleans Saints
WR WR
Jalen Guyton – 65 snaps Tre'Quan Smith – 59 snaps
Mike Williams – 55 snaps Marquez Callaway – 52 snaps
K.J. Hill – 35 snaps Emmanuel Sanders – 45 snaps
Keenan Allen – 12 snaps Bennie Fowler – 24 snaps
Tyron Johnson – 5 snaps
TE TE
Hunter Henry – 66 snaps Jared Cook – 41 snaps
Virgil Green – 26 snaps Josh Hill – 28 snaps
Donald Parham – 7 snaps Garrett Griffin – 18 snaps
HB HB
Justin Jackson – 42 snaps Alvin Kamara – 58 snaps
Joshua Kelley – 25 snaps Latavius Murray – 21 snaps
Troymaine Pope – 4 snaps
Total – 71 snaps Total – 76 snaps

Winner: QB Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

I don’t often mention quarterbacks in the fantasy reactions, but when a rookie quarterback throws four touchdowns on Monday Night Football, it’s hard not to give him some credit. The Chargers relied heavily on the run even though starting running back Austin Ekeler was out due to injury, but Herbert was impressive when he was asked to pass — and that's even more noteworthy considering he was also without his top receiver for the majority of the game.

This was supposed to be a difficult matchup for Herbert, and after his upcoming bye week, he's set to face a number of much worse secondaries. This, of course, means Herbert should have some potential QB1 matchups ahead of him. He’s rostered in roughly half of fantasy football leagues, but it’s time the other half pick him up, too.

Loser: WR Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints

Even though the Saints ended up with 27 points, most of their skill players disappointed tonight. Two of their three touchdowns came courtesy of their quarterbacks on the ground, and the third went to tight end Jared Cook, who was limited to two catches.

At least the Saints' other big-name players put up high catch and yardage totals, but Smith wasn't so fortunate — he caught two of the three passes thrown his way for 8 yards. Considering he was coming off a two-touchdown performance and three straight games with at least four catches and 40 yards, this Monday Night Football performance will no doubt leave fantasy owners with a bitter taste in their mouths. With Michael Thomas presumably coming back in the Saints' next game, it’s worth at least considering dropping Smith.

Waiver Wire Target: RB Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers were without Austin Ekeler for this one, leading to a two-back backfield for Los Angeles. Joshua Kelley was the popular waiver wire addition last week, but Jackson ended up playing more. The two were used interchangeably on first and second downs; Jackson was the clear third-down back, leading to more playing time, while Kelley was the clear goal-line back, which was expected.

Jackson ended up putting up the better numbers rushing in large part thanks to a 36-yard carry. He also caught five passes, which helped in PPR leagues. Because Kelley has the goal-line work, I would think he still has a slight lead in terms of fantasy value, and any running back who leads his team in snaps should be owned in every league.

Injury: WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

Allen left in the first quarter with a back injury and didn’t return, but early on, he was the favorite for the fantasy winner for the game, with two catches for 29 yards and a touchdown across his 12 snaps.

The Chargers were limiting Mike Williams snaps in the first quarter, but he stepped in for the departed Allen. The injury also elevated K.J. Hill to the slot receiver role. If Allen were to miss time, it would likely lead to almost all of their skill players seeing a slight increase in targets, though it's worth noting that Williams also looked hurt on the last play of the game.

If there is anyone on the team to target in waivers, it’s Jalen Guyton, who had the second-most receiving yards for the Chargers with one 49-yard catch. There are better waiver targets at wide receiver this week, so Guyton could be a fallback waiver option. If both Allen and Williams were to miss significant playing time, then Guyton’s value would be a bit larger, given that he would be the clear top wide receiver for the team.

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