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Week 2 Game Recap: Los Angeles Chargers 31, Buffalo Bills 20


What you need to know

Los Angeles Chargers

Gordon put up a huge fantasy stat line in the first half, but a couple of minor injuries had him going in and out of the lineup after halftime. Still, he was hugely active both on the ground and in the passing game, and appeared primed for a huge season for owners who invested first or second round picks on him.

Ekeler is proving to be much more than just a backup running back. There likely won't be enough footballs to go around on a weekly basis to trust him as a fantasy starter, but he will very much have a regular role in the offense. And if Melvin Gordon were to miss any time, Ekeler would step into a fantasy goldmine.

It was a tale of two halves, as Rivers lit up the stat sheet in the first half but disappeared in the second. The Chargers kind of took the air out as they worked to protect a big lead, so they didn't need to take many chances. But notably, even when they did opt to throw the ball, the offensive line really didn't give Rivers much time at all as he was constantly under pressure. Fortunately for his owners, he did enough before halftime to still have a big game.

Buffalo Bills

LeSean McCoy left the game with a rib injury in the second half, leaving the backfield work to Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy. Josh Allen started his first career game and demonstrated why his pre-draft evaluation was so divisive. Allen displayed his weaknesses in the form of inaccurate throws, poor decision making and staring down receivers but showed off his athleticism and made a touchdown throw to Kelvin Benjamin that only one or two other quarterbacks have the arm strength to complete.

Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 27 - 256 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 5 - 0
Rivers' day started off and ended with him on the run. But in between, he once again put up some large fantasy numbers. The opening play was a scramble where he was chased from the pocket, but the slow-footed Rivers actually ended up gaining six yards on the play. Soon after, he was firing strikes all over the field to multiple receivers. He found Virgil Green on the run for 25, then perfectly placed a lob in the end zone for Mike Williams with defenders all over him. The announcers speculated that it may have actually been a bad decision to throw it, because the safety read it and Rivers may not have noticed. But the end result was beneficial regardless. Next, Rivers found Melvin Gordon out of the backfield for a really easy score. He just has so many weapons at his disposal, and almost always connects with the MOST open receiver, that it wasn't difficult to see how he opened up 7-7 for 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Later in the first half, he was under a bit of pressure but managed to dump it off to Gordon, who took it down to the doorstep of the goal line. The two followed that up with a really tough connection in the end zone for Rivers' third touchdown pass of the first half. Gordon was in motion at the snap, and with the defender's back turned, Rivers fired it just under his arm. Gordon deserves credit for perfect timing and excellent concentration in hanging on. The second half was much different for the Charger offense as a whole. Rivers fired a pass that was batted in the air and could have easily been intercepted had it not been for Virgil Green boxing out defenders and knocking it down to save the turnover. But all of a sudden, Buffalo was getting pressure on Rivers from the edge. He was sacked on consecutive possessions (one of which nearly resulted in a fumble if the officials hadn't ruled that Rivers' forward progress had been stopped), and before you knew it the third quarter had ended with the Chargers having gained four total yards of offense. Rivers finally found Tyrell Williams on a crossing route to beat a blitz for 18 yards early in the fourth quarter, and made another couple of nice passes to Keenan Allen who got close to a score but not quite in. But a bad snap late nearly caused another turnover, but once again Rivers was bailed out by a teammate when Austin Ekeler pounced on the loose football.

RB Melvin Gordon, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 28 - 1, Rec: 6 - 38 - 2 (7 targets)
Gordon thoroughly dominated the first half, even though there wasn't really a ton of room for him to actually run the football. He did most of his damage through the short passing game, hauling in two receiving touchdowns in the first half (and added another one on the ground for good measure). After being bottled up on his first few carries, he took one off the left tackled and absolutely waltzed into the end zone untouched. The announcer made a comment that the entire defense had been fooled and had run the wrong way, but replays showed that wasn't the case. At least two defenders weren't fooled at all, but two terrific clear-out blocks were the catalyst to spring Gordon for the end zone. His first receiving touchdown was nearly as easy as the rushing score; he hid in the backfield momentarily before leaking out into the flat, where Rivers fired a pass in stride and he walked in for the score without a defender in sight. Late in the half, he briefly left the game and apparently had a little bit of an issue with his right knee. But he soon returned to snag an emergency shovel pass and take it down to the goal line. Then with a defender all over him, RIvers fired a perfect pass at the back shoulder to a spot where the defender couldn't make a play on the ball. Gordon showed excellent concentration in bringing the pass in for his third score of the half. In the second half, Gordon didn't get much work as the Charger offense couldn't get out of its own way. When he did finally see a handoff, the defense swarmed him and he appeared to take a hard hit to the back of his head and neck area. He was helped up to his feet and walked off under his own power, later being shown holding his neck while talking to the staff about the injury. He did return to the game at around the 9-minute mark for one play, and soon exited again for good. The fact that he was able to return suggests it won't be a serious lingering injury this week.

RB Austin Ekeler, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 77 - 0, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)
For the second straight week, Ekeler very much had a role in the offense apart from just being Melvin Gordon's backup or change of pace. He took a swing pass for a first down, and soon added a jet sweep up the right side for a 15-yard gain (Gordon was on the field at the same time for the handoff). Ekeler was just so slippery, moving his way in and out of the way of defenders almost at will. But he wasn't all speed and shake, since he leveled more than a handful of defenders at the end of his runs to constantly fall forward and pick up extra yardage. Late in the first half, Gordon left the game with a knee issue and Ekeler was given a larger workload. Gordon again left the game in the second half, this time presumably with a neck injury, and again Ekeler was leaned on. Gordon did come back in for one play before leaving for good (suggesting it wasn't a serious injury), but Ekeler was pretty much the go-to guy from that point on. Late in the game, he was given a goal line attempt but was unable to push the pile for the score. Shortly thereafter, a low snap to Philip Rivers nearly resulted in a turnover, but Ekeler was there to pounce on he loose ball and save possession for the Chargers.

WR Keenan Allen, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 67 - 0 (8 targets)
Despite leading all players in both receptions and receiving yardage, it was still a relatively quiet game for Allen. He had zero targets until the 8:30 mark of the second quarter, when he grabbed a wide open reception over the middle. He later added a second catch over the middle on a really well-run route that he took down inside the 5-yard line. It was more of the same in the second half, with Allen doing all of his damage over the middle. Once again he had a catch that took him inside the 5-yard line, this time diving ahead towards the goal line. But he was stopped just shy. He would have been targeted on an ensuing back shoulder out route from Philip Rivers, but the play was whistled dead for Buffalo having too many men on the field, so the resulting play never officially happened. On the last competitive play of the game, Allen fielded the onside kick attempt and tried returning it the other way. He got as far as the Buffalo 23-yard line, when he was taken down from behind.

WR Tyrell Williams, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 48 - 0 (3 targets)
Williams had two receptions in the first half, both wide open over the middle. On the second catch, he was upended during the tackle and the ball popped loose for a fumble. It appeared that the Bills had recovered the ball and even came out of the pile in possession, but the officials ruled that Williams had recovered it himself. Buffalo challenged, but the ball was returned to the Chargers. In the second half, the Chargers kind of took the air out of the ball and focused more on the ground game. But after just four total yards of offense through the entire third quarter, Williams broke loose for 18 yards on a crossing route to beat the blitz and restore some semblance of an offense for Los Angeles.

WR Mike Williams, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 1 (2 targets)
Williams had a quick start to his afternoon, leaping high in the end zone for the team's first score of the game. Philip Rivers kind of floated it up there, and Williams went high while taking a big hit from the safety. But he managed to sort of shield his body and cradle the ball in so it wasn't knocked away. It was his first career touchdown, and demonstrated the trust Rivers has in him in the red zone. He made another tough grab to convert a third and long shortly thereafter, with a veteran move of coming back to the football rather than waiting for it to get to him. Like much of the Los Angeles offense, he went quiet in the second half as the Chargers really kept the ball on the ground (and didn't really have success when they DID throw it).

TE Virgil Green, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 55 - 0 (3 targets)
Even with Antonio Gates in the fold, it was Green who has been the primary pass-catching tight end for the Chargers through two games. He was hit perfectly in stride for an early 25-yard reception. They teamed up to beat the blitz, and Green broke a tackle about ten yards into the catch before rumbling upfield for 15 more after the catch. He made another wide open grab later in the first half, fighting his way downfield and pushing past would-be tacklers on his way to another nice gain. In the second half, he added another nice grab where he withstood a big hit from the defender before eventually fumbling the ball. Fortunately for Green, his elbow was touching the sideline while he fumbled, so it was ruled a dead ball at that spot, otherwise it would have gone for a turnover. Green was involved in another near-turnover earlier in the second half. Rivers had a pass tipped at the line and shoot straight up in the air. With several defenders around it, Green boxed them out and got his hands on it. He wasn't able to hold on and complete the reception, but he at least prevented anyone else from picking it off.

TE Antonio Gates, 11 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Gates was used sparingly, and only had one chance at an impact play. He was targeted on a third down pass play near the goal line, but Philip Rivers sailed the pass too far over his head for an incompletion, and the coverage was solid anyway. Gates had earlier lined up split out wide on a goal line situation, but Rivers opted to pass to Melvin Gordon instead, who converted for the touchdown.


Buffalo Bills

QB Josh Allen, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 33 - 245 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 8 - 32 - 0
Josh Allen was inconsistent in his first career start against the Los Angeles Chargers. Allen was frequently under pressure and sacked five times, four of which were in the first half. The five sacks do not do the game justice as Allen was under heavy pressure and forced to scramble frequently, especially early in the game. As the game progressed, Allen was able to get time to throw. Allen showed why he was such a polarizing quarterback in the pre-draft process throughout the game. On the positive side, Allen scrambled well and was effectively used on some designed runs showcasing his athleticism. His touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin encapsulated Allenís game: he starred down Benjamin on the entire route then threw a fastball that only one or two other quarterbacks could have threaded between the closing coverage to Benjamin for a touchdown. On the other hand, Allenís bad moments were very low. He attempted to hit Jason Croom on a crossing route that was covered. The pass called for a touch throw over a defender, but Allen underthrew it for an interception. Allen was also in the grasp of a defender nearly taking a sack, when he threw a ball into double coverage for an easy interception. Allen has a lot of growing to do, but Buffalo did a good job of trying to make it easier for him with play design, shotgun formations, and throws to running backs out of the backfield on first down. Allenís first start showed some of his promise, but also showed why he is a long-term project at the position.

RB LeSean McCoy, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 39 - 0, Rec: 4 - 29 - 0 (4 targets)
LeSean McCoy had a better day than week one, but still struggled against the Chargers and was forced to leave the game with a rib injury. He saw a total of 13 touches for 68 yards despite limited usage in the second half. McCoy looked quick and elusive on two perimeter runs but was unable to get high leverage usage. McCoy was used in the quick passing game on some flat routes on early downs where he was able to get positive momentum for the offense. The Buffalo offense only saw one goal line carry and it was Chris Ivory not McCoy who was called upon.

RB Marcus Murphy, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (5 targets)
Marcus Murphy was the second back into the game and saw a total of 8 opportunities for 13 total yards. In Murphyís defense, a couple of the throws were off target from Josh Allen, but he did nothing to elevate himself in the offense. McCoy missed time during the second half of the game, and it was Chris Ivory who saw more extended usage than Murphy. If McCoy is forced to miss time, the situation is a key to monitor.

RB Chris Ivory, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 7 - 1, Rec: 1 - 30 - 0 (2 targets)
Chris Ivory was the third back in order of usage in the Buffalo backfield but had the best fantasy performance. Ivory managed a goal line score, and later had a nice catch and run that set up another Buffalo touchdown.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 19 - 1 (3 targets)
After being heavily targeted in week one, Kelvin Benjamin was limited against the Chargers to only three targets but converted one on a post for a touchdown. Benjamin may a good catch on the play in tight coverage to haul in a Josh Allen fast ball. Benjamin was not targeted in the first half.

WR Zay Jones, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 63 - 0 (3 targets)
After being heavily targeted in week one, Kelvin Benjamin was limited against the Chargers to only three targets but converted one on a post for a touchdown. Benjamin may a good catch on the play in tight coverage to haul in a Josh Allen fast ball. Benjamin was not targeted in the first half.

TE Charles Clay, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (3 targets)
Charles Clay had a better day against the Chargers, but still lacks for volume. Clay had a 21 yard catch and had a deep target on a play action pass, but the Buffalo offense is too inconsistent while attempting to get Logan Thomas and Jason Croom involved for Clay to see consistent enough usage for fantasy production at this point in Josh Allenís career.