The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers both played mistake-riddled games in Week 12. New England (5-6) escaped with a 20-17 win over the Cardinals; L.A. (3-8) fell to the Bills in yet another “what could have been?” game. This Sunday’s matchup will be a test to see which side can err less.
Cam Newton was terrible against the Cardinals, completing just half of his 18 attempts for 84 yards and throwing two interceptions. He rushed for 46 yards, one fewer than the team’s leading rusher, Damien Harris, who took on 14 carries. Newton at least got the Pats in position down by the goal line for a couple of short rushing touchdowns by James White. Wideout Jakobi Meyers was one of only three New England players to catch a pass. He ended with 55 yards on five receptions.
Justin Herbert had arguably his worst game as a pro against Buffalo. His completion percentage was his second-lowest of the season; his quarterback rating was his lowest. He accounted for 316 yards, one touchdown, one interception and two fumbles, although he was fortunate not to lose either one. On the bright side, Austin Ekeler looked a lot like Austin Ekeler. In his first game since Week 4 after suffering a significant hamstring strain, Ekeler touched the ball 25 times, including 11 catches, and gained 129 yards from scrimmage. Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry each saw 10 targets. Although Allen had the slightly better fantasy day because he was able to get into the end zone (4-40-1), Henry was just fine as a fantasy starter (7-67-0).
Date: Sunday, Dec. 6
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
Patriots: +1, -107
Chargers: -1, -107
Fantasy football start/sit advice
James White, RB, $5,000
Let’s be honest: White’s fantasy total in Week 12 was a total fluke. He touched the ball just six times and gained 17 total yards. It just so happens that two of those touches came inside the 10-yard line and White scored. That’s not a repeatable feat, but White is still worth using as a PPR flex because he will be involved fairly regularly with Rex Burkhead on IR. The Chargers have allowed the eighth-most receptions to running backs. If the Chargers’ offense is on its game, the Pats might have to use White a lot as a receiver.
Jakobi Meyers, WR, $5,500
It’s clear that Meyers’ 12-catch effort in Week 9 is an outlier given how inefficient this passing offense is. But he tallied double-digit fantasy points in five of his last six games, and the Chargers have weaknesses in their secondary, especially if injured cornerback Casey Hayward misses another game. Meyers is a WR3 with a pretty safe PPR floor.
Austin Ekeler, RB, $7,100
It was a long wait, but Ekeler didn’t disappoint in his return to the field. The most encouraging number is 16. That’s how many times Herbert targeted his dual-threat back. He has 26 receptions on 31 targets in three full games with Herbert under center. With that kind of usage, Ekeler is basically matchup-proof and a solid DraftKings play even after his price increased by $1,000.
Hunter Henry, TE, $4,800
Lately, Henry has been something very few tight ends have been this season: stable. He has scored 13, 14 and 13 fantasy points in his last three games. However, this is not a friendly matchup on paper. The Patriots have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game and just one TD to opposing tight ends this season. He is the fifth-most expensive TE on the full slate.