Thursday Night Football DFS Preview Week 15

Source: USA Today

Chargers at Raiders

Spread: Raiders -3, Over/Under: 34.5

The Chargers head to Las Vegas without quarterback Justin Herbert, who fractured his finger on his throwing hand against the Broncos Sunday. This injury will sideline Herbert for the remainder of the season. In his absence, backup quarterback Easton Stick will start for the Chargers. The absence of Herbert will significantly impact the Chargers' offense. Stick's inexperience could lead to more conservative play-calling, which might result in fewer deep shots and more reliance on the running game and short passes. This could mean fewer opportunities for big plays from the Chargers' wide receivers, but potentially more involvement for Austin Ekeler and the tight ends.

The Raiders have lost three straight and are averaging just 11 points in those games. Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell has only four touchdowns in seven games this year. Josh Jacobs, last season’s leading rusher in the NFL, looks like he will be out with a knee injury. The game total reflects the state of these offenses. At the same time, the Raiders interim head coach is looking to get a permanent job, while the Chargers head coach is trying to keep his, so we could see both teams be very aggressive on offense.

Showdown Strategy

In a game with a low total, I always look toward running backs who normally get a lot of touches, so I’m prioritizing Austin Ekeler. If Josh Jacobs plays, then he’s a must-start. However since there hasn’t been an update as of this writing, I’m going to assume he’s not playing. Zamir White will likely get the lead back action and, at his salary, he would be hard to fade. I’ll also be focusing on value picks who have a good chance to exceed their expected fantasy points. Since points will probably be hard to come by, value picks become much more important. 

The quarterback situation is interesting. We know what we’re gettin with O’Connell, but it’s a bit of a mystery with Stick. We do know that he was a dual-threat QB in college, so there is a possibility he racks up some yards on the ground. He didn’t show us anything special in his relief of Herbert, but he also wasn’t preparing to be the starting QB. With a short week, will that be enough time for Stick to feel comfortable leading the offense? 

This game is a lot like last week’s matchup between the Patriots and Steelers, which easily covered the game total. I think the public was with the Steelers in the matchup, though, while I think lineup builds will be more even in this game. I am inclined to think this game will go under the total, so defenses could make a big impact in this game.

Captain Choices (1.5x salary, 1.5x points)

Austin Ekeler , RB, Chargers ($16,500)

Ekeler has been up and down this season, but I think the quarterback change could help him for fantasy purposes. I’d expect to see more checkdowns and designed routes for him, which means more touches and more opportunities to accrue points. Ekeler has a very high floor and is one of the better values among the top-tier players on the slate. He also has clear upside, even if he hasn’t quite performed as well as his first round ADP in fantasy drafts.

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers ($16,200)

I think Ekeler and Kennan Allen will be the two most popular Captain picks and it’s easy to see why. It’s hard to project which will have higher ownership, but I’m not sure it’s enough of a difference to matter much anyway. Their salaries are similar and Allen has had the higher ceiling this year, but the quarterback situation concerns me a little for Allen’s production.

Jakobi Meyers, WR, Raiders ($12,900)

The only real difference to me between Jakobi Meyers and Davante Adams is salary. In the Captain spot, you can save $3,900 by inserting Meyers instead of Adams. While Adams is projected for more fantasy points, I think they have similar ceilings, which is what I’m looking for in a Captain. I would also expect Adams to have higher ownership, which further supports the idea of choosing Meyers over him. 

Top Flex Options

Davante Adams, WR, Raiders ($11,200)

This is a good matchup for Adams. The Chargers defense has given up some blowup game to Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Adams is in the same category as those elite receivers and therefore stands a very good chance of having a huge game, himself. Adams has been pretty pedestrian since Aidan O’Connell took over the starting QB role, however, so there is a legitimate question if Adams can reach his ceiling with O’Connell behind center. It’s one of the reasons I like Meyers more this week, but Adam’s potential makes him someone you can’t ignore when building lineups. 

Aidan O’Connell, QB, Raiders ($9,600)

I don’t love either of the quarterbacks on this slate, but if I’m playing a wide receiver in the Captain spot, then I might pair him with one of QBs. I like O’Connell a little more because the Raiders are home favorites. O’Connell faced the Chargers back in Week 4 and only put up 9.8 fantasy points. He hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns in a game yet, but the Chargers are allowing the fourth most passing yards in the league and 1.5 passing touchdowns per game. Opposing quarterbacks have a 101.8 passer rating at home against the Chargers, so this is a good matchup and if O’Connell is capable of having a big game, this is the one where it could happen. 

Easton Stick, QB, Chargers ($9,400)

Stick saw his first significant game time last week in relief of Justin Herbert. He was 13 of 24 with 179 yards. Although he’s considered a dual-threat QB, he did not have any runs. I don’t expect a lot of production from Stick through the air, but he could get off a few nice runs. I won’t have Stick in many lineups, but if I roll with Keenan Allen in the Captain spot, I’ll likely include Stick in the flex. 

Gerald Everett, TE, Chargers ($5,200)

Gerald Everett has been fairly consistent, if unexciting, this year. But there’s a decent chance that Everett becomes a safety valve for Easton Stick. Stick has shown the ability to scramble and extend plays with his legs, which could open up opportunities for Everett to find open spaces in the defense. Though is ceiling is capped, Everett is fine value play this week. 

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Raiders ($4,800)

Abdullah would benefit from Josh Jacobs’ absence. There is a chance that he would start, but he would definitely get the third down receiving work. The Chargers allow a lot of receptions to running backs, so his floor would be safe. I would monitor Jacobs’ situation and which running back would start if Jacobs can’t go. 

Raiders Defense ($4,200)

Easton Stick will be making his first NFL start. Although he didn’t throw any interceptions last week, with any inexperienced quarterback, there is an elevated chance for mistakes, including turnovers. Vegas is allowing fewer than 200 passing yards and just 15 points per game at home, third best in the league. 

Hunter Renfrow, WR, Raiders ($4,000)

The Chargers give up the sixth most fantasy points to WR3s. This is mostly a punt play, but Renfrow has seen increased usage since the coaching change in Vegas. He’s touchdown dependent to pay off for you, but with a reception over 30 yards in two of his last three games, Renfrow is capable to taking a long one to the end zone. 

Zamir White, RB, Raiders ($3,000)

Assuming Josh Jacobs is out, I’m not sure how you can leave Zamir White out of your lineup. A starting running back with a salary of $3,000 is too good to pass up. The question is how much time will he split with Ameer Abdullah. White has shown promise as a strong runner with good vision and power, while Abdullah is a versatile veteran with pass-catching abilities. Both are startable in this matchup, but I’ll take my chance on White with the $1,800 reduction in salary from Abdullah. 


My Lineup


  • Jakoki Meyers (Captain)

  • Austin Ekeler

  • Kennan Allen

  • Gerald Everett

  • Ameer Abdullah

  • Raiders Defense

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