Like millions of other football fans, my Sunday mornings in the fall are typically spent locking in fantasy football lineups and money line parlays.
Austin Ekeler under 53.5 rushing yards (-115)
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is coming off three straight seasons leading his team in rushing. Last year he tied Jonathan Taylor for the league lead in total touchdowns and joined LaDanian Tomlinson as the only players to score at least 20 times in a single season in franchise history.
In other words, Ekeler is very good. But because he’s now in his sixth NFL season and stands just 5’8” tall, Los Angeles has looked to other backs to share the workload on the ground. Through two games this season, Ekeler has 28 carries for 75 yards, and Sony Michel and Joshua Kelley have combined for 19 carries for 68 yards. No Charger has scored a rushing touchdown in 2022.
One counterargument against Ekeler’s underwhelming rushing production is the availability of superstar quarterback Justin Herbert. He’s questionable to play in Week 3 and is a true game-time decision due to a rib cartilage fracture. Even if Herbert plays, it would make sense for the Chargers to lean more on the run game.
But my counterargument to that counterargument is that the Jaguars have a damn-good run defense.
They rank top-seven in each of the following statistics: rush attempts, yards, touchdowns, and yards per carry allowed; expected points added and success rate allowed (per rbsdm.com); and adjusted line yards and rush DVOA (per Football Outsiders).
On top of that, Herbert isn’t the only unhealthy player on the Chargers offense. Offensive linemen Corey Linsley and Trey Pipkins III were listed on the injury report this week, and Linsley has a ‘doubtful’ tag for Sunday.
Ekeler is an incredible football player, but I think he’ll continue to have a tough time on the ground this week against Jacksonville’s front.
James Robinson anytime touchdown scorer (+165)
I went longer than I expected on the previous explanation, so I’ll keep this one short with three main points:
- James Robinson is also very good at football.
- Each of his rushing touchdowns this season have come from beyond the 10-yard-line, but Robinson leads the team in goal line carries as well.
- The Chargers defense has deployed light boxes at the second-highest in the league this season (per Sports Info Solutions), which can result in a lot of room to run.
I like Robinson’s chances of reaching the end zone for a third consecutive game.
Zay Jones over 33.5 receiving yards (-125) and over 3.5 receptions (+105)
As I wrote about in this week’s players to watch, I think Zay Jones needs a good game on Sunday for the Jaguars to depart L.A. with a win. Don’t tell me you #forgotaboutZay.
Jones was heavily involved in the season opener with six catches and 65 yards on nine targets, more than any Jaguar besides Christian Kirk. He then caught three of four targets for 23 yards in the home opener. I’d expect the pace and scoring in Week 3 to be closer to Week 1 than 2, and for Jones’ production to follow suit.
Other bets I unofficially like:
Travis Etienne over 44.5 rushing + receiving yards (-115)
Devin Lloyd over 7.5 tackles (+115)
Chiefs (-5) at Colts
Texans (+3) at Bears
Broncos (+1.5) over Niners