The San Diego Chargers have slipped on their share of banana peels late in games through five weeks and narrowly avoided another late-game spill on Thursday night, holding on for a 21-13 victory over the division rival Denver Broncos. Neither team was overpowering in this contest, leaving fantasy owners with modest point totals heading into the Sunday slate of Week 6. Each team recorded a pair of sacks and fumble recoveries as both offenses were sluggish throughout the night. Fantasy owners did have interesting storylines to follow in this game however, with potential changes at key fantasy positions brewing within each huddle.
The tight end position for the Chargers is slowly shifting into the very capable hands of rookie Hunter Henry, who led San Diego in every receiving category on Thursday. Henry snagged six of eight targets for 83 yards and a score, his third consecutive game with a touchdown. Since Antonio Gates returned from a hamstring injury in Week 5, Hunter has seen more action in the San Diego receiving game and has been far more productive with nine catches on 12 targets for 157 yards and two scores, compared to Gates’ six catches on 11 targets for 46 yards and one touchdown. Antonio Gates has had an admirable career as a standout fantasy tight end, but Henry’s moving boxes are unpacked and he is here to stay.
On the Denver side of the ball, the running game was in focus for fantasy owners interested in the fortunes of C.J. Anderson and rookie Devontae Booker. Denver has given Anderson the bulk of the team’s backfield work so far in 2016, but Booker has been creeping closer in terms of workload and received just four less touches than Anderson in Week 5. On Thursday, Anderson held on to the lead role in the Denver backfield with 14 touches for 71 total yards, while Booker turned seven touches into 53 yards. Booker was more effective in the rushing game (9.2 ypc), while Anderson excelled in the passing game (four receptions, 34 yards). Anderson still owns the upper hand in this battle, but Booker is in need of ownership in leagues of all shapes and sizes, and would skyrocket in value if Anderson sustains an injury.
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Broncos at Chargers Quick Slants
Philip Rivers threw for 178 yards and one touchdown in a tough matchup. Phil should be ready to roll again in Week 7 in a cushy matchup at Atlanta. … Demaryius Thomas was targeted a game-high 10 times but caught just five balls for 35 yards while losing a fumble. … Travis Benjamin was the most targeted San Diego wide receiver, hauling in three of his five targets for 17 yards. … Melvin Gordon turned 27 carries into 94 yards (3.5 ypc) in an uninspiring performance. … Emmanuel Sanders caught four of six targets for 40 yards but also dealt with a hip issue on Thursday night. … Dontrelle Inman caught his lone target of the night for 11 yards and now has a combined two catches for 14 yards on four targets in two games since his Week 4 eruption.
In Other News…
Eddie Lacy (ankle) was injured in Week 5 and has been a limited participant in practice so far this week as Green Bay prepares to host Dallas. “It’s going to come down to Sunday,” Lacy told reporters on Thursday. If Lacy can’t play on Sunday, James Starks is the logical choice to handle the Packers’ rushing duties, but Starks is having issues of his own. Starks missed practice on Wednesday before being declared out until at least Saturday due to a death in his family. With Lacy getting practice time in on both Wednesday and Thursday, he looks to be a decent bet to suit up on Sunday but Green Bay may be in trouble at the running back spot if both Lacy and Starks sit out.
Arian Foster (hamstring) appears to be ready for action once again as he looks to hit the field for the first time since Week 2. Foster is staring at a matchup with Pittsburgh this week, who has been tough on the run while not allowing a 100-yard rusher through five weeks. Still, Foster should lead the Miami backfield and chip-in in the receiving game as well while Jay Ajayi slides back into a relief role. Foster may need volume to be effective in the short-term as Miami faces three top-10 run defenses in their next four games.
Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) is in line for a Week 6 start after missing three games with a hamstring injury. Cameron Artis-Payne turned in a solid Week 5 performance in Stewart’s place but will now return to his backup role. Stewart will be welcomed back with a mouth-watering matchup against New Orleans’ 26th-ranked run defense, where he should be trusted in RB2 range. With Cam Newton (concussion) expected back under center, the Panthers will look to use this friendly matchup to get their offense back on track.
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Cam Newton (concussion) was a full participant in Thursday’s practice and should be good to go for a gravy matchup at New Orleans. … Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) continues to practice on a limited basis this week and is worth monitoring as Sunday approaches, although he is likely to start as normal. … Mark Ingram (illness) missed practice on Thursday but does not appear to be in danger of missing Week 6 at the moment. … Willie Snead (toe) believes he is now “close to 95 percent” in his recovery from a toe injury. Snead was unproductive in his Week 4 return but had a bye week to heal and is looking at a fantastic Week 6 matchup against Carolina. … Latavius Murray (toe) did not practice on Thursday and could be on his way to missing another game. DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard will continue to split duties if Murray sits again. … Sammie Coates (finger) has not practiced yet this week due to a lacerated finger and is now on the weekend injury watch list. Fellow Steelers wide out Markus Wheaton (shoulder) missed practice as well, leaving Ben Roethlisberger potentially low on targets heading into Sunday. … Tyler Eifert (back) did not practice on Thursday and his status is growing more concerning by the day. Owners would be wise to give the tight end another week but he could reach droppable status in the very near future.