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Week 11 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 24, Los Angeles Chargers 54


What you need to know

Buffalo Bills

In Nathan Peterman’s first NFL start, the results could not have been worse. The rookie threw five first half interceptions, absorbed a number of big hits in the pocket, and the Bills were down by 30 points by halftime. Tyrod Taylor, previously benched for Peterman heading into the game, resurrected some rhythm for the Buffalo offense in the second half through his much-needed mobility considering the acumen of Buffalo offensive line as a pass-blocking unit. Kelvin Benjamin missed most of the game after taking a hit to his knee in the first quarter, but early reports are the wide receiver avoided a serious injury with no ligament damage. A lone bright spot was the play of LeSean McCoy with two touchdowns and more than 120 total yards plus the viability of recently signed Travaris Cadet as the secondary running back with Mike Tolbert inactive this week.

Los Angeles Chargers

Keenan Allen appears to be fully back to pre-injury form. Every once in awhile, he has a game where he seemed to be simply uncoverable. This was one such game. Allen seemingly did what he wanted, when he wanted, and no Buffalo defenders were even in sight. The only thing keeping him from an even bigger performance was the fact that the game was so out of hand so early on.

Philip Rivers continues to put up big fantasy stats almost by accident. There is a plethora of offensive talent on this roster, and the offensive line has done a much better job of affording him the time to throw than in recent seasons. He has rewarded owners who grabbed him late, with a string of very consistent, if not eye-popping, peformances.

Melvin Gordon has been hobbled a bit in recent weeks by foot and knee trouble, but he continues to pile up fantasy points despite being banged-up. He found the holes early in this one, and really helped softened up the defense for the offensive firepower of Rivers and Allen, and Gordon managed to find the end zone once along the way.

Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 40 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 25 - 158 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 38 - 1
With Nathan Peterman seeing his first career start in lieu of Taylor in Week 11, Taylor was back on the field to start the second half. Peterman struggled to five interceptions and countless big hits as the rookie was overwhelmed by the Chargers defense after a promising relief appearance in Week 10. Taylor played the final 30 minutes, returning some sense of functionality to the Buffalo offense. A key difference with Buffalo’s offensive line struggling in pass protection was Taylor’s mobility to extend plays. Taylor was stripped in the pocket for a fumble, which was returned for a touchdown in the blowout loss. Taylor led a field goal drive on his first opportunity and was hyper efficiency with his rushing attempts. Taylor executed a zone read play for more than 30 yards, nearly scored on another keeper, and did find the end zone on a goal line quarterback keeper late in the game. Taylor’s highlight moment as a passer came on a gorgeous deep throw to Zay Jones while rolling left from pressure. While the starting job for Week 12 and the rest of the season has yet to be announced, the difference in the Bills’ offense with Tyrod Taylor under center compared to Nathan Peterman was night and day this week.

QB Nathan Peterman, 25 offensive snaps, Pass: 6 - 14 - 66 - 0 TD / 5 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0
After showing well in relief of Tyrod Taylor in Week 10, Peterman saw his first NFL start against the Chargers in Week 11. It was a nightmare first half for Peterman as he absorbed a number of big hits within the pocket and threw five interceptions as Buffalo trailed by 30 points at halftime. Peterman’s interceptions were a variety of turnovers from a miscommunication with a receiver to a tipped ball returned for a touchdown and three highly-pressured throws resulting in scattershot accuracy downfield. Peterman also fumbled a snap, which Buffalo recovered. Buffalo turned back to Tyrod Taylor for the second half, showing functionality on offense over the final 30 minutes. Peterman exhibited little pocket awareness or movement as the Chargers’ stingy pass rush targeted his drop point for their pressure.

RB LeSean McCoy, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 114 - 1, Rec: 1 - 12 - 1 (1 targets)
McCoy was the lone consistent bright spot for the Buffalo offense in the blowout loss to the Chargers. While McCoy saw only 14 touches, he optimized his opportunities with three rushes of at least 25 yards and a beautiful corner route touchdown reception on his lone target. McCoy also had a 10-yard rush called back by penalty. McCoy scored his rushing touchdown from long distance, but failed to convert his lone goal line carry for a potential third overall touchdown. With Buffalo’s defense reeling and the offensive line struggling in pass protection, game script is a limiting element to McCoy the rest of the season outside of overt matchups.

RB Travaris Cadet, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 17 - 0, Rec: 6 - 39 - 0 (6 targets)
With Mike Tolbert inactive, Cadet was the primary backup to LeSean McCoy against the Chargers. Cadet showed functionality in both the run and pass game on his nine touches. Cadet played high snaps in the fourth quarter with the game already decided. Cadet eluded the first defender on a swing pass and logged more than 10 yards on two other receptions. Considering his passing game prowess and more dynamic movement, Cadet will have a role even when Mike Tolbert returns to active status.

WR Zay Jones, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 68 - 0 (7 targets)
With Kelvin Benjamin out early with a knee injury, Jones was second on the team in targets. It was an up-and-down game for Jones against the Chargers, not seeing a target until the mid-third quarter with Tyrod Taylor under the center and Nathan Peterman benched following a horrific first half. Jones dropped a slant route target and had two optimal targets (one deep and one in the end zone) tipped away by defenders. Two of Jones’ longest gains came in wide open situations, one on a third down crossing route and another gorgeous throw by Tyrod Taylor while rolling left. Jones would assume the No.1 role if Kelvin Benjamin misses time.

WR Deonte Thompson, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (8 targets)
Thompson led the Bills in targets against the Chargers, but mired to 36 receiving yards as his targets were of the short variety. Plus, Thompson logged a dropped pass. His most notable reception came on a contested hitch route. Kelvin Benjamin exited the game early in the first quarter with a knee injury, supplying more opportunity for Thompson and rookie Zay Jones in the blowout loss.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, 4 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 20 - 0 (1 targets)
Benjamin injured his knee early in the first quarter, absorbing a helmet shot after a slant route reception. Early reports are there is no ligament damage to Benjamin’s knee, but the projected missed time is still a variable after Week 11. Deonte Thompson and Zay Jones notably moved up on the depth chart for the rest of the game in Benjamin’s absence.

WR Andre Holmes, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (3 targets)
Despite Kelvin Benjamin missed most of the game with a knee injury, Holmes saw only three targets behind Deonte Thompson and Zay Jones. Holmes’ lone catch was a quality effort, however, snaring a high-point comeback target late in the third quarter. Holmes has struggled to produce big plays in an ancillary roles this season, averaging less than 10 yards-per-reception and logging more than 20 yards in only one game.

TE Charles Clay, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (4 targets)
In his second game back from injury, Clay logged another pedestrian effort. Clay dropped an end zone target and lost out on another touchdown opportunity as he pushed off on the top of his route to secure an offensive pass interference penalty on the scoring play. On the plus side, Clay drew a defensive pass interference penalty in the red zone and converted a third down on another catch. Clay’s volume is a concern as the tight end is averaging two less targets per game since returning from injury compared to early in the season.


Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 32 - 251 - 2 TD / 0 INT
After suffering a concussion last week, the team wasn't even completely certain that Rivers was going to play until late last week. Once it was determined he would be suiting up, fantasy owners were ecstatic to see the big stats he posted. That said, he was almost a victim of his own team's success. The yardage and the two scores were nice, but the fact that the Chargers dominated the game so thoroughly (the 37 first half points represented the highest-scoring first half in Chargers history), meant that they largely took the air out of the ball after halftime. And Rivers barely even played the fourth quarter, giving way to Kellen Clemens early on. Prior to that, however, he was almost unstoppable. The rapport he had with Keenan Allen was a thing of beauty, connecting a whopping twelve times with his favorite target. Along the way, he showed off some awesome accuracy, a good bit of luck, and his sometimes funky inprovisational skills. The luck came in handy on several occasions. Early on, he was hit as he threw and the ball popped straight in the air. It would have been ruled a fumble even if it hit the ground, because it was out before it came forward. But TE Jeff Cumberland grabbed it out of mid-air for a 1-yard loss (but saving a turnover). Soon after that, he was again hit as he threw but managed to get enough on it to reach Travis Benjamin in the middle of the zone for 21 yards. And right after that play, he found himself in the backfield being swarmed by defenders. With Benjamin standing next to him, Rivers simply flipped the ball out like a hot potato to the receiver, who took off up the right sideline for a 7-yard gain. The final piece of good fortune came on his second touchdown pass of the game. It was a designed screen to Allen, who caught it at and lunged at the goal line. It was initially ruled a touchdown, replays seemed to confirm it, and then one replay angle appeared to show Allen's knee down with the ball a few inches shy of the end zone. However, the call on the field stood and the score held up. That was the duo's second touchdown connection, with the first one coming on a far more conventional back shoulder fade from 21 yards out, where Allen snagged it and twisted his way into the end zone for the team's first offensive touchdown of the afternoon. It didn't all go perfectly for Rivers, who appeared to have yet another score to TE Antonio Gates. The big tight end went up high and appeared to snag the pass, but it was jarred loose by a defender once he hit the ground. And as mentioned earlier, despite all of the positive play by the offense and overall domination, the fact that the defense played so exceptionally well really ended up limiting the amount of work the offense needed to do.

QB Kellen Clemens, 17 offensive snaps, Pass: 5 - 5 - 33 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0
Clemens came on in relief of Rivers when the outcome of the game was firmly in-hand. Despite being up by multiple scores, he actually attempted five fourth quarter passes, completing all of them (all for short yardage, with a long gain of just ten yards).

RB Melvin Gordon, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 80 - 1 (2 targets)
At the outset, Gordon found himself getting stuffed on quite a few occasions by the Buffalo front. As the half wore on, and the Charger defense continuously set up the offense with outstanding field position, Gordon started finding more room. He was running hard right at the outset. And despite the announcers making mention of a slight limp, it wasn't noticeable in any of his attempts. He began really pushing the pile in the second quarter, and was getting numerous red zone handoffs. Finally after nearly breaking loose on multiple occasions, he broke loose up the middle for a gain of 20 yards. He made one cut back and took it all the way to the Buffalo 37 yard line. Another big gain up the middle shortly thereafter started taking its toll on the defense. And finally, following a big Keenan Allen reception, Gordon rewarded his fantasy owners with a nice touchdown run. He went up the right side, stretched the play away from the defense, and used one block that sprung him to the sideline. One defender barely got a hand on him, but Gordon was otherwise untouched down the sideline for a 10-yard score. As with most offensive players for the Chargers, he really quieted down in the second half as the Bills were really unable to muster anything to get back into the game. What was of note, however, is that after Austin Ekeler's big game a week ago, he was essentially a non-factor until this game was already well in hand. In other words, Gordon's role as the bellcow appears to be very safe.

RB Austin Ekeler, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 40 - 1, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets)
Ekeler had eight touches in the game, and even managed a score on a nice 21-yard scamper midway through the fourth quarter. But to temper that enthusiasm just a bit, it should be noted that EKeler was a non-factor for the majority of the game with the outcome still in the balance. He didn't really get a large workload until the game had essentially been decided, and it was time to rest starter Melvin Gordon.

WR Keenan Allen, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 12 - 159 - 2 (13 targets)
Allen was simply unstoppable in this game. His first touch of the game was actually a handoff, which just goes to show the various ways in which he was deployed as an offensive weapon. He caught crossing routes by beating defenders off the line, he caught slants over the middle, he ran free in the secondary on just about every single Buffalo blitz, and nearly every reception he made was followed by a trail of defenders chasing him down, who weren't even in the frame when he first caught the ball. He scored twice before halftime, the first coming on a tremendous individual effort. He made a nice adjustment on a back shoulder fade sort of near the middle of the field. There were defenders all around the surrounding area, but Allen was the only one to find the ball. As he caught it and spun, he dove into the end zone to complete the 21-yard score. His second touchdown was even more difficult. He caught a designed screen from inside the 5-yard line. Defenders met him outside the end zone around the 1 or 2 yard line and seemingly stopped him, but he stretched the ball for the goal line. Initial replays appeared to confirm that the ball had crossed the plane prior to his knee touching down, but one replay then appeared to show the ball inches short with his knee on the ground. But after review, officials ruled it a touchdown anyway and the call stood. Allen wrapped up the first half with an incredibly nine receptions for 123 yards and those two scores. He added a handful of grabs in the second half, much like the first, but with the team up so big and the Buffalo offense showing no signs of life, the Chargers took their foot off the pedal and Allen's production slowed. But he looks to be fully recovered from last year's knee injury, and could be a key for fantasy owners down the stretch and into the fantasy playoffs with performances like this.

WR Mike Williams, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 38 - 0 (8 targets)
Williams was the second-leading receiver in the game for the Chargers, with most of his action coming late in the game with the outcome already having been decided for the most part. He was targeted in the first half on a deep floater, but despite a significant height advantage over the defender, he couldn't bring it in. He was later targeted on another end zone floater late in the first half with just eight seconds left, but that one never really had a chance of being completed. In the second half, Williams laid out for a diving grab over the middle, demonstrating nice body control in bringing the ball in. But like any rookie, it wasn't a flawless performance. He later caught a short pass about a yard shy of the first down marker on third down, forcing the team's first punt of the game.

WR Travis Benjamin, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 21 - 0 (1 targets)
Benjamin didn't have a big game, and was actually fortunate to even get the two touches he did register. The first was a 21-yard reception down the middle of the field that was almost an accidental pass. Philip Rivers was hit as he threw, but had just released the ball in time to get enough on it that it reached its destination. Soon after, Benjamin found himself in the backfield as Rivers was being swarmed by defenders. Rather than take the sack, Rivers dropped the ball into Benjamin's hands, and he alertly took off up the right sideline to turn what could have been a disastrous play into a 7-yard gain. But it did not appear to be a designed run play to him by any means.

WR Tyrell Williams, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)
On an afternoon that saw the Chargers put up a whopping 54 points and set a new franchise record for points in the first half, it is obviously noteworthy that Williams managed just one reception. It was a spectacular play, as he literally jumped over a defender's head in the open field (while still maintaining enough body control to land on his feet) while then leaning forward for the first down. But this game was all about the Keenan Allen show, and the defense. If Williams is going to turn in a 1-catch performance on a day that Philip Rivers throws 32 passes, it's tough to see how he will carve out any kind of regular role going forward.

TE Hunter Henry, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (5 targets)
On a day that saw the Chargers score 54 points, the tight ends were conspicuously absent from the action. Antonio Gates didn't catch a single pass, and Henry had just two (one of which came on the first pass attempt of the game, a perfectly-thrown 15 yard dropped right in his lap along the sideline). Henry also saw two end zone targets, neither of which was really all that close to a score. He was briefly open on the first one, but the pass may have been thrown just a hair late and the defender came up to knock it away. And on the second, his arm was pinned behind the defender and he attempted to make a one-handed grab in the corner but had that one stripped away as well.

TE Antonio Gates, 15 offensive snaps (2 targets)
Despite seemingly everyone getting in on the offensive action, Gates wasn't part of the game plan. He nearly scored on a first half jump ball, going high in the air for what would have been a sure touchdown. But he didn't catch it cleanly, and as he regrouped to snag it, a defender came up from the back and jarred the ball loose just as Gates landed. He was again targeted in the end zone early in the second half, but the play never really had a chance as the pass was too low and the play had no real rhythm to it.