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Other Week 16 Game Recaps

Week 16 Game Recap: Oakland Raiders 24, Los Angeles Chargers 17

What you need to know

Oakland Raiders

-Derek Carr was efficient, focusing on underneath throws. Most of the passing yardage came from receivers making plays after the catch.

-DeAndre Washington was a workhorse, especially in the second half, filling in for Josh Jacobs. If Jacobs is out Week 17, Washington should be a top fantasy option.

-Hunter Renfrow returned from a rib injury and went right back to his role as the go-to option for Carr on third downs. His 9 targets were more than double those of any other Raiders pass catcher.

Los Angeles Chargers

Melvin Gordon had a pretty tough game from a yardage standpoint, but caught a few breaks when other players made plays that put the ball on the doorstep of the end zone. With two 1-yard rushes, Gordon rewarded fantasy owners who started him with a pair of touchdowns, despite an underwhelming performance overall.

Philip Rivers didn't turn the ball over, nor did he manage to throw a touchdown. He had a very efficient afternoon with the short passing game, but didn't take very many shots down the field. Part of that can perhaps be attributed to a thumb injury suffered early on. He didn't miss any snaps in this one, but it conceivably could have affected him.

Austin Ekeler had a mostly quiet afternoon, doing much of his work in the passing game. He once again looked explosive and elusive, often making the first and second defenders miss. But it was Melvin Gordon who benefitted with the short yardage work, scoring a pair of 1-yard touchdowns and rendering Ekeler to a fantasy afterthought.

Oakland Raiders

QB Derek Carr, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 30 - 291 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 1
Carr did an excellent job of managing the game. Almost all of his passes were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage but he was able to hit his guys in stride to allow for yard after the catch opportunities. On the Raider first possession, he hit Hunter Renfrow on a short slant and Renfrow was able to bounce off of a tackle and get past the safety who flew down at a bad angle to get loose for a 46-yard touchdown. The Raiders next couple drives were plagued by penalties and Carr checked it down on 3rd-and-longs to play the field position game. He was masterful in the two-minute drill before halftime, driving the team 75 yards in under two minutes to take the lead into halftime. He picked apart the Chargers soft coverage with underneath throws to get deep into the red zone. From there, he took it himself. After a play-action fake he rolled right and could have tried to throw it up to Darren Waller sprinting along the back of the end zone but instead tucked it and ran, beating the chasing linebacker to the pylon for a 3-yard rushing touchdown. With the lead, the Raiders went extremely run heavy in the second half. Carr was able to come up with some short 3rd-down completions, mostly to Hunter Renfrow, to keep the chains moving.

RB DeAndre Washington, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 85 - 1, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets)
With Josh Jacobs sidelined, Washington again stepped into the lead role. He actually played slightly more snaps (63%) than Jacobs typically plays because the Raiders only had two backs to split touches instead of the usual three. He played exactly 63% in the last game Jacobs missed as well. Washington got off to a slow start, managing just six yards in the first quarter and 11 yards in the second quarter. It wasn’t for lack of effectiveness because over half of his first-half runs went for five or more yards, the Raiders just didn’t make much effort to get the running game going. The second half was a different story. The Raiders got the ball first out of halftime and it was all Washington. He carried it seven times on the drive and finished it off with a 5-yard touchdown run. He ran left and cut back into a big hole, going untouched until a defender glanced off of him just inches short of the goal line. The next drive Washington received six carries, as the Raiders continued to bleed the clock on long, run-heavy drives. Oakland had nine plays on their finals two drives and eight of those plays were Washington runs. He burst up the middle for a 13-yard gain and a first down with just under a minute left that put the game away. The Raiders offense hasn’t missed a beat in the two games without Jacobs due to Washington’s strong play.

RB Jalen Richard, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 11 - 0, Rec: 4 - 18 - 0 (4 targets)
Despite Josh Jacobs being out, Richard remained in basically his same role as the third-down back and occasional change of pace runner. He played 38% of the snaps and had nine touches. The game script and the return of Hunter Renfrow combined to limit Richard to just four targets. He had one 10-yard catch but all of his other touches went for five yards or less.

WR Hunter Renfrow, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 107 - 1 (9 targets)
Renfrow only played 46% of the snaps but made a major impact in his return from injury. He was easily the top target in the Raiders offense, seeing over twice as many targets (9) as any other pass catcher. All but three of those targets came on third downs. The Raiders first third down of the game, Carr looked to Renfrow on a quick slant. Renfrow bounced off of an attempted tackle and right past a pair of safeties to get loose for a 56-yard touchdown. He had two more third down receptions in the first quarter, both coming on underneath passes on third and long where the Chargers were able to rally and make the tackle short of the sticks. Renfrow’s only receptions that weren’t on third downs came in the two-minute drill in the final minute before halftime. He caught a 13 yard pass to get the Raiders into the red zone and had a 9-yard reception on the next play to get the ball down to the 3-yard line. The Raiders went run heavy in the second half, which led to only a few looks for Renfrow. He was able to convert both third down targets into first downs to get the Raiders into position for a field goal that put them up two scores on a key fourth-down drive late in the game. Renfrow’s clutch third-down play was the key to the Raiders offensive success and he should only see his role grow moving forward.

WR Tyrell Williams, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 82 - 0 (4 targets)
Williams has continued to play through a painful foot injury that has limited his explosion but he looked fast on Sunday. He caught a short slant on the run early in the first quarter and got loose into the secondary for a gain of 46 yards. He showed the 4.4 speed that hasn’t always been there this season due to the plantar fasciitis. He ran the same route for a 13-yard gain later in the game. He also caught a deep post for 20 yards in the two-minute drill before halftime. He was held without a catch in the second half as the Raiders went to a run-heavy offense to protect their lead.

TE Darren Waller, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (4 targets)
In the second half of the season, Waller’s targets have taken a big hit when Renfrow plays. Carr seems to lock onto one guy on the majority of third down passing attempts and that guy has been Renfrow instead of Waller when both are available. Waller had an 11-yard reception running across the formation off of play action. The play has become a staple of the Raiders offense and is almost unstoppable because it requires a linebacker to sift through traffic while trying to keep up with Waller’s 4.5 speed. Waller caught a 20-yard pass over the middle. He was barely touched as he went to the ground. Thinking he wasn’t touched down, Waller got up and sprinted 40 more yards for what he hoped would be a long touchdown but the defender did get a hand on him as he was falling.

Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 39 - 279 - 0 TD / 0 INT
Based on his erratic play this season, it was perhaps fitting that Philip Rivers neither threw a touchdown pass or turned the ball over in what may be the final home start of his Chargers career. In what may be a microcosm of his Charger career, Rivers had to burn a timeout late in the third quarter because he couldn't hear the play call over the roar of the crowd noise, despite being at home. The Los Angeles offense just couldn't get on track in this one right from the outset. In fact, it was the first time in Rivers' entire career that he started a game by failing to register a single first down on each of the first three possessions of the contest. And he entered the game with a streak of having thrown at least one touchdown in 24 consecutive games, another mark that fell by the wayside in this one. He came close a couple of times. The first was a corner target to Mike Williams that didn't go for a score but DID result in defensive pass interference in the end zone (Melvin Gordon scored one play later). Another pass to Williams late in the game went right through the receiver's hands, though there was also tight defensive coverage on the play. Perhaps Rivers' best opportunity for a score came on a floater to Keenan Allen. The pass was completed and Allen appeared headed for the goal line, but the receiver stumbled at the 3-yard line and ended up touched down just shy of the end zone. If he hadn't fallen down, it certainly would have been a touchdown. A late pass to Allen in the end zone got to the receiver's hands, but again a terrific defensive effort knocked the ball away before he could haul it in. Despite connecting for five receptions, Rivers and Allen couldn't quite get on the same page in this game. It's the continuation of a distressing trend this season, considering the incredible chemistry the two have shown throughout the years. Rivers was nearly intercepted on an early pass attempt to Allen where the receiver didn't even know the ball was heading his way (and quite frankly didn't appear to realize that it was even a passing play). The ball hit the defender's hands and Allen actually nearly caught it off the deflection, but clearly the two players weren't in sync. That followed an earlier pass play over the middle that was supposed to be in one spot, but Allen was further across the field and the timing was off. Rivers also had to deal with a thumb injury suffered early on during a weak block attempt. Austin Ekeler was running to the right side with Rivers out in front of him. Instead of throwing a real block, he kind of stuck his arm out at the defender and appeared to jam his thumb. He got it taped at halftime, and perhaps coincidentally nearly all of the pass attempts in the second half were of the short yardage and dumpoff variety for the most part. Despite all the negatives, one silver lining is that the offensive line held up relatively well in terms of pass protection. He wasn't running for his life as we've seen in some recent games, and he did have two very nice pass plays to Allen and Williams in the second half where he showed some pinpoint accuracy.

QB Tyrod Taylor, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0
Taylor came in for a third down keeper option run play in the middle of the second quarter that got blown up and went nowhere.

RB Melvin Gordon, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 15 - 2, Rec: 6 - 32 - 0 (7 targets)
Gordon was busy in the passing game, with a team high six receptions. But he really couldn't get much space on the ground in the running game. In fact, the only times it seemed like he really had any space were on each of his 1-yard touchdown runs. His first seven carries of the game went for a total of just four yards, so he was having a lot of trouble getting going. He finally broke through for a 10-yard gain, but that was by far his longest run of the game. The Chargers as a team had just 19 yards on the ground, so it was kind of incredible that the only two touchdowns they got were both by way of the run. His first run was set up by a defensive pass interference penalty in the end zone that put the ball at the 1-yard line. He went in essentially untouched off the left side. Keenan Allen helped set up Gordon's second score by stumbling down at the 3-yard line and finally being touched down at the 1. Gordon again went in up the left side, this time met at the goal line by the defense but still managing to bang in for the score. Late in the game, Gordon had the ball placed right in his hands for what looked to be a solid gain, but he dropped the ball. Announcer Trent Green speculated that the play could have gone for 15 yards or more since it was a third down and 20 situation and most of the defenders were pretty far back.

RB Austin Ekeler, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 11 - 0, Rec: 5 - 58 - 0 (6 targets)
Despite playing second fiddle to Melvin Gordon in terms of touches (15-9), Ekeler out-gained him 69-47 from scrimmage. Neither player did much in terms of the running game, as the Chargers totaled just 19 yards on the ground. But Ekeler did do some damage in the passing game. He picked up 17 early on a 3rd and 21 play with the Raiders playing soft coverage. Ekeler was also responsible for the first Charger first down of the game, picking it up on a sweep late in the first quarter. He looked good on a short reception in the flat late in the first half. He ran through an arm tackle on the first defender, then spun out of the next would-be tackler to pick up more yardage after the catch. In the second half, his biggest play came on a crossing route when the Raiders zone somehow lost track of the underneath receiver. Unfortunately for Ekeler, despite struggling mightily it was Gordon who got the call both times the Chargers were at the goal line. He converted both opportunities for touchdowns, relegating Ekeler to do his damage "between the 20s".

WR Keenan Allen, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -5 - 0, Rec: 5 - 71 - 0 (10 targets)
Allen's stat line looks solid, as has been the case much of the year. It just wasn't terribly explosive. He's become a very high floor, low ceiling type of fantasy player over the last 3/4 of the season. He had an opportunity to add a touchdown to his moderate stat line, but he stumbled after making the catch and ended up just shy. Rivers flipped him a floater to the right side, and Allen darted to the corner of the end zone. Unfortunately, he slipped at the 3-yard line and ended up down inside the 1-yard line. Melvin Gordon scored on the next play. Allen was later targeted along the back line of the end zone on a jump ball, but the defender made a great play to knock it away. Curiously, Allen and Rivers seemed to be out of sync on a couple of occasions. Normally, the two veterans are totally in sync. But on one pass play, Allen appeared to not even realize the ball had been thrown to him. It hit the defender's hands, Allen nearly caught it, and eventually it fell incomplete. But he didn't even turn his head or finish his route. There was also some mis-timing on a pass play over the middle later on where Allen went to one spot and Rivers threw to another. The two did connect on a nice 20-yard gain late where Rivers put it right on Allen's hands and perfectly in stride, but those plays have been few and far between.

WR Mike Williams, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 51 - 0 (4 targets)
Williams' first reception came at the middle of the second quarter, converting a third down play for nice yardage along the sideline. Later, he drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone when the defender dragged him down in the corner. It was a curious decision by the defender, who actually appeared to have good position and could have played it straight. Regardless, the flag led to a Melvin Gordon touchdown on the next play. Williams' name wasn't called again until late in the fourth quarter when he got wide open over the middle for another big gain and then backed it up with a first down reception two plays late. Williams was targeted on a high pass in the corner of the end zone late in the contest; the ball was in his hands, but the defender did a nice job of getting in his face to perhaps distract him and cause the incompletion.

TE Hunter Henry, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (7 targets)
Much like Keenan Allen, Henry had a solid albeit unspectacular stat line. His first two attempts could have gone for big yardage, but he couldn't quite hang onto what would have been a couple of tough catches. The first one was a leaping attempt along the sideline that he actually did manage to come down with, but his legs were out of bounds by the time he hauled it in. Other than that, he mostly had short gains while attacking the middle of the field. Henry gained 17 on an in and out move late in the first half, turning upfield for some yardage after the catch. But his other four receptions went for a total of just 28 yards, illustrating the type of targets he tended to see in this game.