Monday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Broncos at Chargers

Monday Night Football DFS Breakdown: Broncos at Chargers

This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.

We have an intriguing Monday Night Football matchup. Both teams have underperformed relative to preseason expectations. Denver has been the more severe disappointment with the acquisition of Russell Wilson yet to pay off. Los Angeles has a winning record but dropped a disappointing game to Jacksonville in Week 3 and has won in relatively unconvincing fashion against Houston and Cleveland the last two weeks. The Chargers are 4.5-point home favorites, with an implied point total of 25 and Denver an implied total of 20.5.

Quarterback

We already brought up Russell Wilson ($10,000 DK, $15,000 FD), so let's begin the analysis there. His first few games in Denver have been disastrous, as he's managed his lowest yards per attempt since 2017 and the lowest adjusted yards per attempt of his career. After an abysmal Week 5 performance on Thursday Night Football, it was disclosed that Wilson has a partially torn lat near his right shoulder. He had surgery to fix the issue and returned to full practice Friday. The question for DFS and fantasy managers is to figure out how much of Wilson's struggles can be attributed to his health versus acclimating to a new offensive system. What's certain is that there is room for growth. Wilson has only a 2.4 percent touchdown rate this season. For reference, his career rate is six percent and the only quarterbacks with a lower rate than him this season are Mac Jones, Daniel Jones and Mitch Trubisky. Whether that growth comes  Monday night is a different question. The Chargers rank 12th in pass defense DVOA. They have a full-strength J.C. Jackson but will be without Joey Bosa for the third straight week. There's not statistical evidence that Wilson will rebound, but public perception of Wilson might be so low that he goes under rostered and becomes a nice contrarian play in large-field contests.

The case for Justin Herbert ($11,000 DK, $17,000 FD) is much simpler. He ranks top 10 among passers in the majority of QB metrics, including yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt and touchdown rate. The reasons to play him are fairly obvious. There are some drawbacks, though. First, he is the most expensive player on FD by $1,500. Next, the Broncos secondary is elite, as the team has the second-best DVOA against the pass and has allowed only 10.9 fantasy points per game. It is worth noting that the Broncos will be without Ronald Darby for the first time Monday, which will soften the secondary a bit. Finally, he's likely to be pretty popular because of the contrast between his current form and that of Wilson. In cash games, Herbert is the choice. If Herbert is popular as expected, there's a strong case to not play either quarterback or play Wilson in tournaments.

Running Back

Austin Ekeler ($11,400 DK, $15,500 FD) is the most expensive player on DK and second most on FD. His usage on the ground (12.2 carries per game) doesn't dictate that, and his usage inside the 5-yard line is particularly concerning. He has zero carries in that range this season, while Sony Michel ($6,200 DK, $5,500 FD) has two and Joshua Kelley ($6,400 DK, $7,500 FD) one. Ekeler does make up for those deficiencies with his work in the passing game, as only Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey have more targets — both of whom have played six games as opposed to Ekeler's five. That's unlikely to change as Keenan Allen is doubtful for this game, and it gives Ekeler a particular advantage over the running backs in this game — particularly on DK, due to the PPR scoring. The Broncos have allowed only 23 receptions to running backs this season and only two total touchdowns, though they will play without Josey Jewell. Ekeler's price and the matchup give me pause, but he scores points in bunches and he may be a necessary player to roster to cash Monday night.   

Kelley and Michel have alternated games serving as Ekeler's backup, so it's unsurprising that they each have exactly 23 carries. Their work inside the red zone has also been nearly identical, leaving the primary difference as the passing game involvement of the duo. Kelley has slightly better usage as a receiver, and he's my slight preference as a result. However, I wouldn't go out of my way to roster either because we know both will have limited touches that are unpredictably distributed.

Melvin Gordon ($8,200 DK, $12,000 FD) has taken over as the lead back in San Diego in the absence of Javonte Williams. He saw 15 of 24 carries handled by Denver's running backs last Thursday against the Colts while also commanding three targets. He should lead the team's backfield again, and he offers a significant discount from Ekeler while occupying a similar role. The Chargers are a favorable defense for running backs, as they rank in the bottom third of run defense DVOA and have allowed the most fantasy points per game to backs this season. Gordon is the best point-per-dollar play at the position for either team, though there is some significant risk that he loses work if he puts the ball on the ground. Gordon has fumbled four times this season, and the Broncos have built the depth back up in their running back room if he coughs the ball up.

Mike Boone ($4,800 DK, $7,500 FD) likely would be considered Gordon's backup, earning seven carries and three targets against the Colts. He was efficient with the opportunity, but excitement over Boone should likely be tempered as Latavius Murray ($1,600 DK, $8,000 FD) is trending toward playing. His exact role remains unclear, but he cuts into the ceiling of both Gordon and Boone. Murray is close to a punt play on DK, which could be enough to make him worthy of a flyer.

In summary, I'd rank Gordon as the best point-per-dollar play based on median outcome, but Ekeler's ceiling is incomparable at the position. I like using Murray as a punt on DK, while Boone is a decent value on FD but I have significant concern this duo will cut into the other's fantasy upside.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Keenan Allen is doubtful and said he's turned his attention toward a Week 7 return. Mike Williams ($10,600 DK, $13,500 FD) followed the rest of the Chargers' offense and put up a dud performance in Week 3 against Jacksonville. In his other three games without Allen this season, he's had a minimum of seven receptions and 113 yards. A matchup against Patrick Surtain is a concern, but Williams' usage has been elite, and I'd be willing to bet Herbert and coach Brandon Staley find a way to get him the ball. I'd roster him as a captain on both sites without hesitation.

Courtland Sutton ($8,400 DK, $13,000 DK) has slightly better opportunity and efficiency as compared to Williams this season, as measured by air yards, yards per route run, and targets per route run. He also has a less concerning matchup, so on paper he's the batter play. There are two concerns, the first of which is quarterback play. The second is the team's secondary receiving options. While Sutton has served as Denver's top receiver in three of five games this season, Jerry Jeudy ($7,000 DK, $11,000 FD) has a higher likelihood of surpassing Sutton than any secondary option in the Los Angeles receiving corps. That's to say Jeudy is comfortably the third-best receiver in this game.

After Jeudy, the most viable plays come from Los Angeles. Joshua Palmer ($5,800 DK, $8,500 FD) is second on the team in total routes run, but his production has been a disappointment. He's commanded only a 14.2 percent target share and has an extremely subpar 1.02 yards per route run. His price does reflect his disappointing production, so there's not a big issue in playing him. That said, I'd be more inclined to play Gerald Everett ($5,600 DK, $8,000 FD). He's cheaper on both sites, and has a superior target share, yards per route run and even aDOT as compared to Palmer.

DeAndre Carter ($2,600 DK, $7,000 FD) has become an afterthought in the Los Angeles offense, though he still runs a lot of routes and will remain on the field. If you decide to fade Mike Williams based on matchup, it would be worthwhile to play any of Carter, Everett or Palmer because the targets and production have to go somewhere — unless you believe the Chargers will be entirely shut down.

Denver is a mess to sort through after Jeudy and Sutton. The bottom line is that no other receiver on the team has a target share above 7.9 percent. Albert Okwuegbunam ($2,400 DK, $6,500 FD) hasn't been consistently involved in the offense and has been inefficient with his opportunity. Eric Saubert ($2,000 DK, $5,000 FD) looks relatively involved in the offense on the surface, but he had failed to earn more than two targets in any game prior to his seven-target performance in Week 5 against the Colts. I'd prefer to look to two other plays in Denver, the first being KJ Hamler ($3,000 DK, $7,000 FD). He's produced little this season, but he's capable of turning a one-game slate on its head with an 80-yard touchdown catch. While improbable, his likelihood of doing so is significantly higher than any other pass catcher in his price range on DK. He's overpriced on FD, but his potential remains the same. Greg Dulcich ($200 DK, $5,000 FD) is the other name to watch. As was just covered, Denver hasn't settled on a primary tight end. Dulcich is likely to be activated off of injured reserve to make his NFL debut, and both of those factors are likely to limit his playing time and involvement Monday. However, even one catch for 20 yards could give him a reasonable return on his price.

Defense/Special Teams

Both defenses are in play, albeit for different reasons. The Broncos have allowed 16 sacks this season and Russell Wilson has thrown three picks. If you believe the Vegas line, Denver will be chasing points and taking to the air regularly, creating plenty of opportunity for the Chargers defense ($4,400 DK, $10,000 FD) to make plays. This thought process seems to have been baked into their price, as they are relatively expensive on both sites.

The Denver defense ($3,400 DK, $9,500 FD) is simply good. However, Justin Herbert isn't mistake-prone (1 percent INT rate) and the Chargers' offensive line has protected him well (league-low 2.4 percent sack rate). Despite being the superior defense based on talent, both recent injuries and the relatively mistake-free Chargers offense take the luster out of playing the Broncos' defense.

Kickers

Brandon McManus ($3,800 DK, $9,000 FD) has made three field goals in a game three times this season and in one of two road games. He's surprisingly been more accurate on the road for his career. He could lose some range being away from Denver, but that doesn't seem to affect his accuracy.

Dustin Hopkins ($4,000 DK, $9,500 FD) was forced to sit out Los Angeles' Week 5 victory but will be back for Week 6. He has yet to make three field goals in a game this season because the Chargers convert touchdowns at a high rate. He offers a safe floor because we can be fairly confident the Chargers will score points, while that hasn't always been the case for the Broncos this season.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Dan Marcus plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: marcusd91 DraftKings: dmarcus87.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Marcus
Dan started covering fantasy sports in 2015, joining Rotowire in 2018. In addition to Rotowire, Dan has written for Baseball HQ and Rotoballer.
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