Matchup Analysis: Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Chargers 24, Steelers 28

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Los Angeles Chargers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Chargers Offense27.9 (+3.8) (7)129 (+15) (8)273 (+25) (10)
Steelers Defense22.6 (-1.5) (11)102 (-11) (9)223 (-24) (6)

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Steelers Offense28.7 (+4.6) (6)96 (-17) (27)325 (+77) (2)
Chargers Defense19.9 (-4.2) (4)108 (-5) (13)227 (-20) (7)

Chargers Rushing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

The Chargers will move forward, at least for a few weeks, without the services of Melvin Gordon, who’s enjoying his best and most efficient season as a pro. Luckily, they boast one of the league’ most dynamic backups. Austin Ekeler was a true workhorse at Western State, topping 1,000 ground yards in all 4 seasons, with a 6.24 average and 55 touchdowns over 40 games. His dynamism has definitely carried into the NFL – Ekeler’s 5.72-yard average is third among backs with at least 100 attempts over the last 2 seasons. It’s unfair to call him an even replacement for Gordon, but there shouldn’t be a devastating drop-off. Ekeler will operate behind a rapidly ascending front line that’s led by center Mike Pouncey and left tackle Russell Okung, both outstanding run blockers. He’ll also get to work against a Pittsburgh defense that will have to spread itself far and wide to control all of the Chargers’ weaponry. Ekeler fits best as a change-of-pace guy, but he projects beautifully as a short-term fill-in.

The Pittsburgh run defense, so dominant to open the year, is beginning to show major cracks. Over the last 3 weeks they’ve allowed opposing backs to average 4.66 yards per rush, and all 3 lead runners have topped 75 on the day. It all culminated last week in Denver rookie Phillip Lindsay’s 14-carry, 110-yard, 1-touchdown eruption. Lindsay found running lanes and picked up chunk gains all day, routinely exploiting the Steelers’ inconsistent gap play. This is a deep and generally stout run defense, but it’s definitely missing end Stephon Tuitt, who’s sat the last two games and has no timetable to return. Tuitt is a powerful, athletic presence up front, and opponents are capitalizing on his absence.

Chargers Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Steelers defense.

Somewhat quietly, Philip Rivers is in the midst of the best season of his storied 15-year career. He’s posting his best-ever completion (70%), touchdown (7.6%), and yardage (9.1) rates – a big reason the Chargers are barreling toward their first 10-win season since 2009. Last week’s gem, a 28-of-29, 3-score performance against Patrick Peterson’s Cardinals, was truly a sight to behold. That efficiency hasn’t always blown up the stat sheet; volume works against him at times, and Rivers has landed below 250 yards 5 times thus far. But it’s good to know he’s in the zone, and that he’s always in position to maximize whatever volume the game affords him. Keenan Allen remains his top target, winning consistently underneath and contributing the occasional great downfield catch. And the two Williamses, Tyrell and Mike, provide great situational playmaking. Tyrell is playing through injury at the moment but has averaged a career-best 18.5 yards per catch. Amazingly, the pair has found the end zone on 12 of their 52 receptions, providing a fantastic downfield balance to Allen and the running backs.

The Pittsburgh pass defense has enjoyed a major turnaround from its early-season struggles. After allowing 320 yards per game over the season’s first 5 weeks, they’ve given up just 187 since, with just 8 touchdowns over the last 6 outings. Of course, scheduling has played a role in that upswing. Aside from Cam Newton, they haven’t faced a strong passer since Week 5. Still, it’s hard to deny just how stingy and mistake-free this group has been lately. The pass rush is deep and dynamic, and on its best days, it’s able to almost completely paper over the team’s concerns in the secondary. Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Coty Sensabaugh have been extremely up-and-down in coverage, and the safeties, who are primarily run defenders, continue to lapse when helping downfield. Ultimately, the week-to-week success of this group hinges on whether the Steelers can generate an organic rush without blitzing too many coverage men. Last week was a mixed bag in that department, and a better quarterback than Case Keenum could have capitalized.

Steelers Rushing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Chargers defense.

James Conner has come back to earth after a dizzying midseason stretch that made many forget LeVeon Bell’s name. After averaging 119 ground yards from Weeks 5-9, he’s been held below 70 in 3 straight games, with just 1 touchdown over 35 attempts. Still, it’s encouraging that the drop-off has been rooted in volume, not efficiency – at least he’s kept his per-carry average north of 4.00 over this dip. Conner isn’t quite the quick-footed athlete Bell is, but he runs with vision and purpose and is exceptional at adding yardage after contact. His patient yet physical style fits great behind the Steelers’ top-tier front line, particularly on the right side, where center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro form arguably football’s best run-blocking tandem. Even with tackle Marcus Gilbert ailing and unlikely to suit up, this is a strong, dynamic unit that imposes its will on defenses more often than not.

Even with Joey Bosa back in the saddle, the Chargers remain banged-up and undermanned on run defense. Over the past three weeks, they’ve lost starting middle linebacker Denzel Perryman and key rotational lineman Corey Liuget to injured reserve. Those injuries aren’t back-breakers – Perryman is frequently hurt, while Liuget is an inconsistent presence up front. But they’re definitely thinning out the depth chart. Jatavis Brown now looms as the top linebacker, and he’s always struggled mightily in run defense. Liuget’s role should go mostly to third-round rookie Justin Jones, who looked solid over 21 snaps last week but isn’t quite on the veteran’s level as a run stuffer. This has been one of football’s most average run defenses all year, and while they don’t look doomed after these injuries, they certainly can’t help matters. The Steelers’ long-tenured, often-dominant front line is now looking at its best matchup in at least a month.

Steelers Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Chargers defense.

Ben Roethlisberger continues to dazzle statistically at age 36. Averaging a career-high 333 yards per game, he’s a matchup-proof QB1 for fantasy purposes. Still, there are subtle cracks in this high-flying attack. Roethlisberger has dominated the bad defenses on his schedule (Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati), but struggled noticeably against the better ones (Baltimore, Jacksonville, Denver). Last week, he posted what had to be the worst 41-of-56, 462-yard performance in NFL history. Interceptions remain a problem, as do the Steelers’ struggles in the red zone. But fantasy players won’t care, of course, as long as the gaudy numbers keep up, and that feels safe. Roethlisberger is a volume king, and he throws to arguably the league’s best wideout tandem. Antonio Brown hasn’t been quite his otherworldly self, averaging a good-not-amazing 70 yards a game, his lowest number since 2012. But he remains a nearly impossible cover, both down the field and underneath, and he’s found the end zone 11 times over 11 games. The bigger story has been JuJu Smith-Schuster, who’s on pace for a dazzling 112-1,534-6 line on the other side. Last week’s 97-yard catch-and-run – the second 97-yard catch of the 22-year-old’s career – was a perfect snapshot of his ability to win routes and excel in the open field. All told, there are a few real-life concerns at play here, but not enough to dampen the massive fantasy appeal of this attack.

The Chargers pass defense looks back to its dominant ways of 2017. They’ve feasted on a relatively week schedule of passing games, but haven’t allowed more than 243 yards since Week 5. The full-on return of star pass rusher Joey Bosa, who was in on 70% of defensive snaps last week, only makes this unit tougher to deal with. Bosa has looked great, bookending Melvin Ingram and allowing the entire pass rush more room to push pockets. Behind them, the league’s most talented secondary has snapped out of its early-season funk and is back to dominating wideouts. Even with Jason Verrett and 2017 breakout star Trevor Williams on the shelf, there’s still a ton of coverage ability scattered throughout the back end. Casey Hayward remains a shutdown stud, while Desmond King has developed into a major playmaker on the ball, and rookie safety Derwin James continues to impress week after week. There’s rarely much time to throw against this full-strength unit, and there are very few safe zones downfield to test.

Steelers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)18 (-0.1)18 (-0.1)18 (-0.0)18 (-0.1)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)4 (-8.1)4 (-8.1)3 (-7.6)3 (-8.3)
9Joe Flacco6123372060000010.310.38.28.2
10Cam Newton54232919321210017.717.715.715.7
11Blake Bortles6810181040021706.
12Case Keenum571528197203-3017.617.615.615.6

Philip Rivers (FanDuel: $8300, DraftKings: $5700)

10@ OAK5618262232111018.318.316.016.0
11vs DEN772843401221-4025.725.721.624.6
12vs ARI5628292593013025.325.320.721.7
13PROJ-Dodds23362801.90.8120212121.0 (H=47)21.0 (H=68)
13PROJ-Tremblay23362751.91220. (H=47)21.1 (H=69)
13PROJ-Bloom223125520.7110.120.820.820.8 (H=46)20.8 (H=67)

Steelers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10 (-2.7)7 (-4.3)9 (-3.5)7 (-4.7)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)20 (+2.2)19 (+0.8)18 (+1.6)18 (+0.9)
9Alex Collins31935111409.910.910.410.9
9Javorius Allen2616055801.
10Christian McCaffrey54147715561231.836.834.336.8
10Alex Armah623000000.
11Leonard Fournette34289512246020.
11Carlos Hyde11844000004.
12Phillip Lindsay36141101000017.
12Royce Freeman15617000001.

Austin Ekeler (FanDuel: $5400, DraftKings: $5400)

10@ OAK20319000001.
11vs DEN186290224006.
12vs ARI255351111068016.326.321.326.3
13PROJ-Dodds12560.35450.313.718.716.2 (H=46)18.7 (H=59)
13PROJ-Tremblay8350.27600.413.120.116.6 (H=48)20.1 (H=66)
13PROJ-Bloom11500.44250. (H=31)15.1 (H=40)

Justin Jackson (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $3600)

10@ OAK00000000000.00.0
12vs ARI13757000005.
13PROJ-Dodds9320.31805.86.86.3 (H=9)6.8 (H=15)
13PROJ-Tremblay8320.21404.85.85.3 (H=7)5.8 (H=11)
13PROJ-Bloom7310.31705.66.66.1 (H=9)6.6 (H=14)

Steelers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)12 (-1.2)12 (-1.1)11 (-1.7)12 (-1.5)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)2 (-11.1)2 (-12.6)2 (-12.3)2 (-13.8)
9Willie Snead42875800005.812.89.312.8
9Michael Crabtree43733200003.
10Devin Funchess49533200003.
10D.J. Moore49542001502.
11Dede Westbrook48421900001.
11D.J. Chark36521500001.
12Emmanuel Sanders4412786100014.621.618.121.6
12Courtland Sutton42411400001.

Keenan Allen (FanDuel: $7700, DraftKings: $7200)

10@ OAK509657100011.717.714.717.7
11vs DEN69129891110152419.524.0
12vs ARI527772100013.220.216.720.2
13PROJ-Dodds7850.5150121915.5 (H=29)19.0 (H=45)
13PROJ-Tremblay7840.513011.718.715.2 (H=28)18.7 (H=44)
13PROJ-Bloom7850.700012.719.716.2 (H=32)19.7 (H=48)

Tyrell Williams (FanDuel: $5800, DraftKings: $4600)

10@ OAK45644600004.
11vs DEN67622200002.
12vs ARI90000000000.00.0
13PROJ-Dodds2400.30005.87.86.8 (H=9)7.8 (H=15)
13PROJ-Tremblay3420.30206.29.27.7 (H=11)9.2 (H=20)
13PROJ-Bloom000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Mike Williams (FanDuel: $6000, DraftKings: $3700)

10@ OAK260000100000.00.0
11vs DEN45325600005.
12vs ARI634425200014.518.516.518.5
13PROJ-Dodds2350.30005.37.36.3 (H=8)7.3 (H=16)
13PROJ-Tremblay2270.20003.95.94.9 (H=5)5.9 (H=11)
13PROJ-Bloom4570.60009.313.311.3 (H=22)13.3 (H=47)

Travis Benjamin (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3000)

10@ OAK1300001-20-0.2-0.2-0.2-0.2
11vs DEN193000000000.00.0
12vs ARI44334700004.
13PROJ-Dodds1170.10002.33.32.9 (H=2)3.4 (H=5)
13PROJ-Tremblay1150.10202.33.32.9 (H=2)3.4 (H=5)
13PROJ-Bloom3430.20005.58.57.1 (H=12)8.6 (H=27)

Steelers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (+1.3)23 (+2.4)24 (+1.9)24 (+2.5)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)14 (-2.1)13 (-3.5)13 (-2.7)13 (-3.5)
9Mark Andrews27635005.
10Greg Olsen45644004.
11James OShaughnessy5521400.
12Matt LaCosse27433419.412.410.912.4

Antonio Gates (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $2800)

10@ OAK11211801.
11vs DEN2775801141916.519.0
12vs ARI26111801.
13PROJ-Dodds2260. (H=6)5.8 (H=15)
13PROJ-Tremblay2240. (H=5)5.6 (H=14)
13PROJ-Bloom2250. (H=5)5.7 (H=14)

Virgil Green (FanDuel: $4100, DraftKings: $2500)

10@ OAK4732300354.05.0
11vs DEN52422702.
12vs ARI451000000.00.0
13PROJ-Dodds2160. (H=3)4.2 (H=9)
13PROJ-Tremblay2160. (H=3)4.2 (H=9)
13PROJ-Bloom1130. (H=2)2.9 (H=5)

Steelers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)17T (-0.3)17T (-0.3)18T (-0.5) (+0.0)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)17 (+0.5)17 (+0.5)18 (+0.5) (+0.0)
9Justin Tucker3311101010.010.0
10Graham Gano0033333.03.0
11Josh Lambo3311101012.012.0
12Brandon McManus1133667.07.0

Mike Badgley (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

10@ OAK2222889.09.0
11vs DEN3312101012.012.0
12vs ARI1166999.09.0

Steelers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)7T (-1.5)7T (-1.5)6 (-2.7)6 (-2.7)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)14 (-0.9)14 (-0.9)11 (-1.5)11 (-1.5)
9Baltimore Ravens2339510000111.01.0
10Carolina Panthers524571000011-3.0-3.0
11Jacksonville Jaguars2032323000889.09.0
12Denver Broncos1752722200101011.011.0

Los Angeles Chargers (FanDuel: $3300, DraftKings: $2300)

10@ OAK6.00317401006613.013.0
11vs DEN23.0032500000000.00.0
12vs ARI10.0014921000448.08.0
13PROJ-Dodds27.204132.11.20.600. (H=18)7.1 (H=25)
13PROJ-Tremblay27.504112.81.30.600. (H=21)7.8 (H=30)

Chargers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)2 (-3.1)2 (-3.2)3 (-2.7)2 (-3.5)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)3 (-8.2)3 (-8.2)2 (-7.9)2 (-8.6)
9Russell Wilson81263923521541022.922.920.520.5
10Derek Carr6324372430022012.412.47.98.9
11Case Keenum5619322050000010.310.38.28.2
12Josh Rosen471219105112-

Ben Roethlisberger (FanDuel: $7900, DraftKings: $6000)

10vs CAR50222532850327039.139.135.838.8
11@ JAX6527473142321126.826.823.726.7
12@ DEN78415646212218026.926.922.325.3
13PROJ-Dodds27413122.11.13100.124.524.524.5 (H=64)24.5 (H=84)
13PROJ-Tremblay28433121.91.3290.123.423.423.4 (H=59)23.4 (H=78)
13PROJ-Bloom27372852.21.3250.122.922.922.9 (H=57)22.9 (H=75)

Chargers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)14 (-1.0)16 (-0.2)15T (-0.6)14 (-0.7)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)13 (-2.2)15 (-0.5)15 (-1.3)15 (-1.2)
9Mike Davis59156208745010.717.714.217.7
9Chris Carson10840000004.
10Doug Martin3015610333109.212.210.712.2
10Jalen Richard27370655205.910.98.410.9
11Phillip Lindsay32117925427022.626.624.626.6
11Royce Freeman13723111709.010.09.510.0
12David Johnson3717630321607.
12T.J. Logan200011500.

James Conner (FanDuel: $7900, DraftKings: $7300)

10vs CAR2413651118013.314.313.814.3
11@ JAX589250962404.910.97.910.9
12@ DEN6713530444209.513.59.512.5
13PROJ-Dodds17790.74370.116.420.418.4 (H=39)20.4 (H=50)
13PROJ-Tremblay17750.74350.115.819.817.8 (H=37)19.8 (H=48)
13PROJ-Bloom16650.54310.314.418.416.4 (H=32)18.4 (H=42)

Jaylen Samuels (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3600)

10vs CAR17570432218.911.910.411.9
11@ JAX20000000000.00.0
12@ DEN4000211201.
13PROJ-Dodds1501400.91.91.4 (H=0)1.9 (H=1)
13PROJ-Tremblay1400300.70.70.7 (H=0)0.7 (H=0)

Chargers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)7 (-3.4)6 (-5.2)8 (-3.8)8 (-5.0)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)3 (-8.1)4 (-11.1)4 (-9.5)4 (-12.0)
9Doug Baldwin72447700007.711.79.711.7
9Jaron Brown19211010007.
10Brandon LaFell57644700004.
10Seth Roberts28333900003.
11Courtland Sutton50637800007.810.89.310.8
11Emmanuel Sanders50645601606.
12Larry Fitzgerald43223010009.
12Christian Kirk43644100004.

Antonio Brown (FanDuel: $8500, DraftKings: $7900)

10vs CAR516696100015.621.618.621.6
11@ JAX64135117100017.722.720.225.7
12@ DEN721396700006.715.711.215.7
13PROJ-Dodds7810.800012.919.916.4 (H=29)19.9 (H=44)
13PROJ-Tremblay6750.600011.117.114.1 (H=23)17.1 (H=34)
13PROJ-Bloom7760.700011.818.815.3 (H=26)18.8 (H=40)

JuJu Smith-Schuster (FanDuel: $7200, DraftKings: $7500)

10vs CAR4253901113016.319.317.819.3
11@ JAX61108104000010.418.414.421.4
12@ DEN661713189100024.937.931.440.9
13PROJ-Dodds7880.400011.218.214.7 (H=29)18.2 (H=40)
13PROJ-Tremblay7860.402011.218.214.7 (H=29)18.2 (H=40)
13PROJ-Bloom7810.600011.718.715.2 (H=30)18.7 (H=42)

Ryan Switzer (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3500)

10vs CAR8223100003.
11@ JAX24332800002.
12@ DEN52866701407.
13PROJ-Dodds2250.20003.75.74.8 (H=6)5.8 (H=12)
13PROJ-Tremblay3280.20204.27.25.8 (H=9)7.3 (H=17)
13PROJ-Bloom3260.10003.26.24.8 (H=6)6.3 (H=13)

James Washington (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $3200)

10vs CAR460000000000.00.0
11@ JAX35311100001.
12@ DEN183000000000.00.0
13PROJ-Dodds1110.10001.72.72.2 (H=1)2.7 (H=3)
13PROJ-Tremblay2200.10002.64.63.6 (H=3)4.6 (H=8)
13PROJ-Bloom000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Chargers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)11 (-1.5)11 (-1.7)11 (-1.5)11 (-1.6)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)9 (-3.3)10 (-3.7)10 (-3.4)10 (-3.7)
9Nick Vannett488652111.
10Jared Cook37945205.
11Jeff Heuerman48542002.
12Ricky Seals-Jones1921500.

Vance McDonald (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $3800)

10vs CAR254444110.414.412.414.4
11@ JAX52632718.711.710.211.7
12@ DEN33532702.
13PROJ-Dodds3390. (H=11)8.7 (H=22)
13PROJ-Tremblay3300. (H=7)7.2 (H=16)
13PROJ-Bloom3370. (H=10)8.5 (H=21)

Jesse James (FanDuel: $4700, DraftKings: $3200)

10vs CAR3411816.
11@ JAX160000000.00.0
12@ DEN50443503.
13PROJ-Dodds2240.1354.0 (H=4)5.0 (H=10)
13PROJ-Tremblay2270. (H=6)5.9 (H=13)
13PROJ-Bloom3340. (H=9)7.6 (H=20)

Chargers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)6 (-1.0)6 (-1.0)6 (-1.4) (+0.0)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)8 (-1.7)8 (-1.7)8 (-2.0) (+0.0)
9Sebastian Janikowski1222556.06.0
10Daniel Carlson2200667.07.0
11Brandon McManus1122555.05.0
12Phil Dawson1211444.04.0

Chris Boswell (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

10vs CAR1177101012.012.0
11@ JAX0022222.02.0
12@ DEN12225510.110.1

Chargers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10T (-1.7)10T (-1.7)8 (-1.9)8 (-1.9)
Last 4 weeks FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10 (-1.4)10 (-1.4)9 (-2.0)9 (-2.0)
9Seattle Seahawks2537520000223.03.0
10Oakland Raiders2033511000334.04.0
11Denver Broncos2247932000777.07.0
12Arizona Cardinals4541440100662.02.0

Pittsburgh Steelers (FanDuel: $3600, DraftKings: $2500)

10vs CAR21.0024251101151515.015.0
11@ JAX16.0024360100889.09.0
12@ DEN24.0030820000222.02.0
13PROJ-Dodds24.603762.30.90.600. (H=16)7.2 (H=24)
13PROJ-Tremblay24.003512.410.600. (H=21)8.3 (H=31)