The 2017 NFL regular season is wrapping up this Sunday and so are everyone’s fantasy playoffs if they have not done so already.
As such, here are three players to start and to sit for the Raiders-Chargers game this weekend.
RB Melvin Gordon
Regardless of who Melvin Gordon is going up against he seems to be destined for around 20 carries, 80 yards and a good shot at a touchdown.
Under John Pagano, the Raiders’ rush defense has been stout giving up 100 yards rushing just once. But Gordon has proven to be a threat in the passing game to keep fantasy owners happy if enough production doesn’t come on the ground shown by his nine receptions for 67 yards last time he faced Oakland.
If Pagano and company do limit Gordon’s yards, Gordon is still likely to make an endzone trip since he has scored 12 touchdowns this year.
WR Keenan Allen
The stats would suggest that Keenan Allen will be in for a tough outing against the drastically improving Raiders’ pass defense who has given up zero touchdowns and 376 yards to the wide receiver position over the last four weeks.
With that being said, I am still skeptical that the unit has the talent to limit Allen considering he has hauled in 93 receptions for 1,260 yards and five touchdowns in 2017.
Oakland hasn’t faced a receiver as good as Allen in a while. So it wouldn’t be surprising to see Allen bring in close to double-digit catches knowing he can use his larger frame on the smaller cornerbacks like TJ Carrie and Dexter McDonald and his quickness on the top-heavy Sean Smith.
RB Marshawn Lynch
Los Angeles’ one weakness on defense is its rush defense. The unit ranks dead last in the NFL giving up 132.9 rushing yards per game.
With Lynch’s impressive play recently, averaging over 4.5 yards per carry since Week 9, he should be due for a big day on the ground.
Also, the Raiders should look to establish a run game early considering they are playing with a beat up offensive line against a dominant Chargers’ pass rush.
QB Derek Carr
Derek Carr will have to face a terrifying duo in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram (21.5 sacks combined) without his pro bowl left tackle Donald Penn.
If rookie David Sharpe struggles, a test that many fail, Carr could be seeing a lot of pressure and end up on the ground quite a bit against a defense that has allowed just 195 yards passing per game and has sacked the quarterback 41 times.
Aside from the bomb Carr threw to Amari Cooper on Monday night, he threw for just 77 yards, 0 touchdowns and two interceptions on 28 attempts against a much worse Philadelphia pass defense.
QB Philip Rivers
In any Oakland game, who would have thought that the two quarterbacks, especially Philip Rivers and Carr, would not be worthy of a fantasy start.
Now, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Rivers have a monster day since he seems to play well every time against the Raiders. But the Oakland pass defense has been trending in the right direction. The unit has only surrendered 250 yards passing once and four touchdowns in the last five games.
While it is likely for Rivers to surpass 250 yards, I expect the Raiders defense to hold strong in the redzone and that the pass rush will be able to take advantage of an immobile Rivers limiting his touchdown potential.
WR Michael Crabtree
Michael Crabtree disappeared against the Eagles finishing the game without a reception. The weeks before that, he did have 14 receptions but for just 99 yards. Crabtree is suffering because of Todd Downing’s failures to stretch the field. Therefore, he can only be successful if he scores, something the Raiders’ offense has not been good at in 2017.
Furthermore, Crabtree will have to matchup with arguably the best cornerback in all of football. Casey Hayward has a Pro Football Focus player grade of 96.7, almost four points higher than any other cornerback in the NFL.
If Crabtree couldn’t earn one reception against Philadelphia, he isn’t going to go off against the top cornerback of 2017.