Welcome to playoff week for most leagues! It is time for all your hard work this season to come down to the luck of just a few weeks. For this week, you should be loading up on Chargers, and maybe holding off on putting Bengals’ players in your lineup; as their matchup in Los Angeles looks to be a fairly uneven one.
Philip Rivers (Chargers QB): So if you follow any of these fantasy posts it’s rare that I list quarterbacks in the must start section. I’d almost say it never happens, but Rivers has arguably been the third or fourth best quarterback this season behind Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees (you could also argue Jared Goff in there). Those two that played the Bengals had huge games, and I don’t expect this defense to be able to slow down Rivers’ attack through the air.
Keenan Allen (Chargers WR): Allen had 19(!) targets against the Steelers last week, and how he got those targets are a big reason why he is a must start this week against the Bengals. Allen was often strategically lined up in the formation so he was matched up against linebackers for Pittsburgh. The Chargers were smart enough to attack this all game long, and this is a huge problem for the Bengals as well. You shouldn’t expect 14 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown again this week, but it really isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
Joe Mixon (Bengals RB): Once again, Mixon showed why he is the Bengals’ most explosive and consistent weapon last week against the Broncos (14 touches for 95 total yards), but he is running around the same amount of snaps as Cody Core. That tells you everything you need to know about Mixon’s ceiling, which seems to be dependent on the Bengals feeding him carries on the goal line, where they don’t get to very often now.
Chargers’ RBs: If you haven’t heard, Melvin Gordon is out for this game. That means Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson need to be in your lineups. Ekeler didn’t have a great game last week as he totaled just 43 yards on 18 touches against Pittsburgh, but the Bengals allow the most points to opposing running backs out of any defense in the NFL, according to Fantasy Pros. Jackson also looked very impressive last week and the offense will likely distribute similar opportunities for each of them.
Tyler Boyd (Bengals WR): Boyd came alive in the second half last week when Jeff Driskel and the Bengals offense finally started going more than three yards down field in the passing game. Six catches for 97 yards is pretty close to the best you should expect from Boyd going forward as every team will be planning to take him away. The only reason he is a favorable matchup is because he should still see the most targets of any Bengal.
Chargers’ defense: If you own them they should be started. The Bengals’ offense is a mess right now, and edge rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa should provide plenty of pressure on Driskel to force him into bad decisions or sacks all game long.
C.J. Uzomah (Bengals TE): Uzomah has put up two games with at least five catches and 30 yards. If that is the kind of stat line you are hoping for from your tight end then go for it. The position is such a mess this season you may need that.
Good but not great
Mike Williams (Chargers WR): The rest of the Chargers wide receivers after Allen are a crap shoot, but Williams has some value in deeper leagues. This play is entirely dependent on Williams reaching the end zone, but the Chargers should find themselves there multiple times in this game. He is nothing more than a flex start though as he won’t see the volume necessary to be considered anything else.
John Ross (Bengals WR): Ross simply hasn’t shown he can be that consistent fantasy play, and having Driskel at quarterback doesn’t seem to be helping. Playing Ross is hoping to win the touchdown roulette on a team with maybe one or two spins at best.
Antonio Gates (Chargers TE): It is amazing Gates is still playing to this day, but this may be the only tight end the Bengals linebackers actually have a chance against. Not to mention he hasn’t gotten much attention from Rivers the past two weeks.
Bengals’ defense: If you own this defense drop it for literally any other player or defense. Having a backup kicker would be more valuable than owning this defense in fantasy.