Thursday Night Football
San Diego @ Oakland
Chargers-Raiders has a 47-point game total with host Oakland favored by 5.5. Jack Del Rio's squad has an attractive team total of over 26 points. ... Although his on-field play has become increasingly erratic and inconsistent, Derek Carr has demonstrated a high fantasy floor with multiple touchdown passes in 8-of-9 games since Oakland's Week 6 bye. Chargers DC John Pagano has shown little ability to contain Carr since he entered the league in 2014. In their three career meetings, Carr has shredded Pagano's defense for a combined 7:1 TD-to-INT ratio and 101.5 passer rating with two high-scoring games (31-28, 37-29) mixed in. Hosting a San Diego club that ranks 26th in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA and is on the road after an emotional home win, I like Carr's chances of turning in a top-12 fantasy quarterback week. ... Latavius Murray's second half has been alarmingly poor, averaging 3.13 yards per carry with just 11 receptions over his last six games. The Raiders' schedule has not been forgiving, however, and Murray's workloads have held strong with a 21.3-touch average in the last month. Murray turned in the fantasy RB16 week when these clubs met in Week 7. A volume- and matchup-driven fantasy investment, Murray is a passable RB2 play on Thursday night.
Carr's targets in his last four games: Amari Cooper 37; Michael Crabtree 35; Clive Walford 21; Seth Roberts 17; Mychal Rivera 15; Murray 12; Andre Holmes 11; Marcel Reece 7. ... Despite drawing stingy RCB Jason Verrett on most of his snaps, Cooper went off (5-133-1) when these teams met in Week 7, most memorably taking a bubble screen 52 yards to the house. On paper, Cooper's matchup remains difficult in his rematch with one of the league's best corners, but the rookie has earned WR2 treatment in season-long leagues by commanding eight-plus targets in seven of his last eight games and ranking 16th in PPR wideout scoring on the year. ... Crabtree (6-63-1) also delivered in Week 7 and will mainly take on LCB Patrick Robinson, who has taken steps back since a strong start to the season. Crabtree has at least four catches in all 14 games. He should get additional chances against CB Craig Mager, who recently replaced injured Brandon Flowers in San Diego's nickel package. Mager is a third-round pick out of Texas State. ... Walford's snap rate dipped from 65% in Week 14 to 49% last week. Walford has drawn seven targets in back-to-back games, but remains in a timeshare with Rivera. It should not surprise if Walford and Rivera combine for a solid box score against a Chargers defense yielding the tenth most fantasy points to tight ends. Individually, Walford and Rivera are tough to stream.
Coming off an emotional blowout win at home, the Chargers trek to The Black Hole with a sub-21-point team total. ... Even with a decimated supporting cast, Philip Rivers has continued to muster useful fantasy numbers against bad pass defenses. He finished as the QB11 in last Sunday's win over Miami, and as the QB4 in San Diego's Week 12 win over Jacksonville. In between, Rivers has turned in finishes of QB27, QB30, and QB28 against the Chiefs (twice) and Broncos. Playing better pass defense recently, the Raiders fall somewhere in the middle after striking fear into the heart of Brock Osweiler in Week 14, and limiting Aaron Rodgers to the QB29 fantasy week in last Sunday's loss to Green Bay. I'm expecting a mid-pack performance from Rivers that should be buoyed by volume if the Raiders pour points on the Chargers' defense and San Diego is forced to respond aggressively. That's precisely the scenario that played out when these teams met in Week 7. ... The Raiders are playing shutdown run defense, holding enemy running backs to 283 yards and one touchdown on 91 carries (3.11 YPC) across their last five games. Oakland all but eliminated Eddie Lacy (11-23-0) last week. This is a game to avoid for Melvin Gordon replacement Donald Brown and a good-looking one for Danny Woodhead, who finished as the overall RB2 in PPR leagues in the aforementioned Week 7 Raiders-Chargers game. Woodhead split work with Brown after Gordon exited last week, but that took place with San Diego nursing a lead. I expect a close game or the Bolts to play from behind on Thursday night, improving Woodhead's outlook and adversely affecting Brown's.
The Chargers pass catcher with the best outlook is Antonio Gates, who is fantasy's No. 5 overall tight end in PPR scoring over the last month. Game flow figures to work in Gates' favor, while Oakland has permitted the third most fantasy points in the league to tight ends. The Raiders gave up a combined 10-117 number to Broncos tight ends in Week 14, and 9-133-1 to Titans tight ends in Week 12. ... Stat lines allowed by Oakland to wideouts in their last three games: 9-95-2 (Jeremy Maclin), 6-82-1 (James Jones), 10-95 (Demaryius Thomas). The best bet to capitalize in San Diego's receiver corps is Dontrelle Inman, who logged an 89% snap rate in last Sunday's win over Miami and made chunk-yardage gains en route to a 78-yard effort. Inman will run most of his Week 16 routes at struggling RCB D.J. Hayden and slot corner T.J. Carrie. ... The Raiders' best cornerback has been LCB David Amerson, who will mostly square off with Malcom Floyd. 34-year-old Floyd is scoreless since Week 8 and is averaging 27.5 yards over his last four games. ... Unless Stevie Johnson returns from his groin injury -- he did practice on a limited basis this week -- San Diego's sub-package pass catchers will be No. 2 tight end Ladarius Green and No. 3 receiver Javontee Herndon. They are rotational players best fit for fantasy waiver wires.
Score Prediction: Raiders 27, Chargers 23
Saturday Night Football
Washington @ Philadelphia
Redskins-Eagles has a 48-point total with Philly favored by three. The Eagles' team total is 25.5 points. I am continually surprised by Philadelphia's lofty team totals; offensively, the Eagles have scored 23 points or fewer in six straight weeks. ... Sam Bradford has recorded fantasy finishes of QB23, QB23, and QB16 since returning from shoulder and brain injuries. The Eagles' offense has become tough to watch, while Bradford's decision making and accuracy come and go on a play-to-play basis. Still, this week's matchup is favorable against a Redskins pass defense that ranks 20th in Football Outsiders' DVOA with a 19:6 TD-to-INT ratio allowed over its last nine games. Quietly, Bradford turned in top-two quarterback stats when these teams met in Week 4. Albeit not a trustworthy option, Bradford is worth a look as a desperation streamer. The Redskins have allowed 30.5 points per game on the road this season, compared to 18.6 at home. ... DeMarco Murray has been phased out of the Eagles' backfield, playing eight snaps in last Sunday night's loss to Arizona. Ryan Mathews made his second straight start, logging 14 touches on 39% of the downs. Darren Sproles handled nine touches and a 48% playing-time clip. The Redskins rank 23rd in run-defense DVOA after coughing up a combined 19-156-1 (8.21 YPC) rushing line to Bills running backs last week. Mathews is a flex option with some upside this week. Sproles has dominated red-zone work lately but is best viewed as a low-end flex.
Bradford's targets over the last three weeks: Zach Ertz 24; Jordan Matthews 22; Sproles 13; Riley Cooper 11; Nelson Agholor 10; Josh Huff 7; Brent Celek 5; Ryan Mathews 4. ... The overall TE10 in per-game PPR scoring since Philadelphia's Week 8 bye, Ertz has played himself into legit fantasy-starter discussion against a Redskins defense that gave up 7-76 to Giants tight ends in Week 12, 6-57 to Cowboys tight ends with Matt Cassel quarterbacking in Week 13, 5-85-1 to Bears TE Zach Miller in 14, and gains of 16 and 37 yards to the Bills' Charles Clay-less tight ends last week. Ertz appears to have emerged as Bradford's favorite and most reliable target. ... Matthews has the ability to legitimately dominate games when fed voluminously, as shown in Week 1 at Atlanta (10-102), Week 9 against Dallas (9-133-1), and Week 15 versus Arizona (8-159-1). Matthews has also shown the ability to disappear, which has been the case for most of the rest of his season. He is a classic boom-bust WR3 option with uneven target totals of 6, 5, and 11 since Bradford returned. ... Agholor's receiving lines since Bradford came back are 0-0, 3-62-1, and 0-0. Agholor has been fantasy waiver wire fodder throughout his rookie year.
The Redskins' team total is 22.5 points. ... Even more so than Washington's defense, Kirk Cousins' home-away splits are dramatic. Whereas Cousins has accounted for 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions in eight home affairs, he's managed seven TDs and nine picks through six games on the road. Also working against Cousins is Philadelphia's stout second-level coverage, where FS/slot CB Malcolm Jenkins and the Eagles' athletic inside linebackers may limit top weapon Jordan Reed. The matchup is nearly perfect for DeSean Jackson on the perimeter, however. I'm betting on Cousins to finish in the 12-15 range among fantasy quarterbacks this week, making him a serviceable streamer. ... Matt Jones' emergence as Washington's feature back was proven a mirage in Week 15, as Alfred Morris reappeared to out-touch (14), out-snap (53%), and severely out-rush (14-84) Jones (11, 45%, 10-28) in the Redskins' win over Buffalo. Washington's backfield has a terrific matchup with a weak Eagles run defense that was dismantled by Cardinals running backs (37-232-3) last Sunday night. Unfortunately, the inconsistent timeshare renders both Jones and Morris unattractive Week 16 flex plays.
Cousins' targets over the last month: Reed 33; Pierre Garcon 24; Jackson 23; Jamison Crowder 12; Jones 8; Chris Thompson 5. ... Under DC Billy Davis, the Eagles give tight ends hell. They allowed the third fewest fantasy points to the position in 2014 and permit the second fewest this year. Reed managed 5-37-0 when Washington hosted Philadelphia in Week 4. Reed did miss big chunks of that game due to ankle and knee injuries and eventually a late-game concussion, however, while Scott Chandler went 4-61-1 against the Eagles in Week 13, and Cameron Brate posted 3-47-1 in Tampa Bay's Week 11 thrashing of Philadelphia. Ultimately, Reed against the Eagles is the tight end equivalent of Odell Beckham versus Josh Norman. ... The best area to attack the Eagles is on the perimeter, to which John Brown, Michael Floyd, and J.J. Nelson could attest had they not left around 200 receiving yards on the field via drops in last Sunday night's win over Philadelphia. This is also a #RevengeGame for Jackson in his old stomping grounds. D-Jax went 5-117-1 and 4-126-0 in last year's two Eagles games. He missed this year's with a hamstring injury. ... Garcon hit pay dirt for the first time since mid-October in last Sunday's win over the Bills. He's reached 60 yards once in his last 11 games.
Score Prediction: Eagles 24, Redskins 23