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Previewing the Patriots-Chargers Matchup from a Fantasy Perspective

Breaking down the SI.com fantasy recommendations and what they might mean for Sunday’s matchup at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

The New England Patriots are traveling west to the ‘City of Angels’ for a Halloweeen-date with quarterback Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. Sunday’s Week Eight matchup will take place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California at 4:05pm ET. One of the many ways to examine the matchup is through the fantasy football perspective.

In that regard, let's look at Sports Illustrated Fantasy Editor Michael Fabiano's Week Eight Start 'Em and Sit 'Em as they pertain to the Pats-Chargers battle on Sunday.

Here are the notable players mentioned in the matchup with Fabiano's comments, along with some additional insight, via Patriot Maven, on that particular projection.

‘Starts’ of the Week

Damien Harris, RB New England Patriots (vs. Chargers)

Fabiano’s Analysis:

“Harris has recorded two straight big stat lines, scoring 17-plus points in each of the last two weeks. He’s in a good spot to continue that streak, as the Patriots face a Chargers defense that’s allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Unless New England falls into a negative game script, Harris should find success in the stat sheets once again.”

Patriot Maven Analysis:

Though the Chargers are a formidable football team in all three phases, they do have a sore point, which the Pats will undoubtedly look to exploit on Sunday. The Bolts run defense has been porous, thus far in 2021. They have allowed an average of 162.5 yards per game, as well as 5.5 yards per play. While the Patriots running game has had its share of growing pains this season, the team has run the ball quite efficiently as of late. This is largely in part due to the running prowess of feature back Damien Harris. Harris has gained 100 yards in back-to-back games with 101 yards vs. Dallas (October 17) followed by 106 yards against the New York Jets (October 24). Though there is no guarantee of equaling such success, the Pats will look to run the ball often on Sunday.

Hunter Henry TE, New England Patriots (vs. Chargers)

Fabiano’s Analysis:

“Henry has been on a serious hot streak, scoring a touchdown in four straight games and averaging 13.4 points. This week’s matchup is a revenge game against the Chargers, who have allowed five touchdowns and the second-most fantasy points per game to tight ends. With Jonnu Smith also banged up, Henry is a solid option at what is a thin position in fantasy land.”

Patriot Maven Analysis:

As Fabiano stated above, Henry has found the end zone in each of the Patriots past four games. He leads the team with four touchdown receptions and has developed quite the synergy with quarterback Mac Jones. What makes Henry such an effective receiver is hit route running ability, which he does as well (if not better) than any tight end in the league. With the Patriots poised to heavily utilize the running game on Sunday, their passing opportunities will likely come mostly from play action. In that regard, Henry should see significant looks. in short-yardage situations, as well as a handful of targets in the endzone

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‘Sits’ of the Week

Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots (vs. Chargers)

Fabiano’s Analysis:

“Meyers, who is still seeking his first NFL touchdown, caught five passes last week but was still held to just 9.4 points in a win over the Jets. Next up is a difficult road matchup against the Chargers, who have allowed three touchdowns and the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Unless you’re desperate, Meyers is a likely fade in this AFC matchup.”

Patriot Maven Analysis:

The Pats receivers are in store for a tough challenge on Sunday. For all of the struggles of the Bolts’ run defense, their pass defense is more than formidable. The Chargers rank fourth in the league by allowing just 202 yards per game, featuring stout cornerback play from Chargers Chris Harris, Michael Davis and rookie Asante Samuel, Jr. They are well-set at safety as well with Derwin James, Nasir Adderly and Alohi Gilman anchoring the defensive backfield. With the Pats likely to rely on their runners, as well as tight ends, to move the football, their wide receivers (including Meyers) might not be fountains of fantasy points in Week Eight.

Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Patriots)

Fabiano’s Analysis:

“Cook has produced 12-plus fantasy points in two of his last three games, making him a viable streamer in most leagues. He does have a tough matchup this weekend, however, as the Patriots have allowed just one tight end (Dalton Schultz) to score more than 9.2 fantasy points in a game against them this season. I’d keep Cook on the sidelines unless you’re in real need.”

Patriot Maven Analysis:

Though Cook has been a solid target at tight end for Herbert, Fabiano does make a good point, here. The Pats have been quite effective in defending tight ends this season, with Dalton Schultz being the lone exception. Of course, it should be noted that Schultz is arguably the best tight end they have faced in 2021. With slot corner Jonathan Jones out for the season, look for the Pats to once again flood the defensive backfield to attempt to take away Herbert’s passing lanes. That means a heavy dose of safeties, with Kyle Dugger and former Charger Adrian Phillips in coverage against Cook in the open field.

New England Patriots Defense/Special Teams (vs. Chargers)

Fabiano’s Analysis:

“The New England D/ST scored 12 fantasy points in last week’s blowout win over the Jets, but this week’s game against the Chargers is far less favorable. Defenses have averaged a mere 4.3 fantasy points a game against Justin Herbert and the Bolts, so keep the Patriots D/ST on the bench.”

Patriot Maven Analysis:

New England’s pass defense will have its hands full in Week Eight. The Chargers passing game ranks eighth in the league, averaging over 282 yards per game. With the Pats still searching for answers for depth in the secondary, Herbert should be able to effectively target both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The Patriots’ run defense has improved after a slow start and may have some success in containing the Los Angeles’ running game, which ranks 25th in the league in rushing yards per game with 95, and 20th in yards per play at 4.1. Still. Austin Ekeler is a very capable back, and will utilize his running lanes when provided with them. Overall, the Pats defense has a chance to make a statement, but it may not produce the points for which fantasy GMs are hoping on Sunday.