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Chargers vs. Raiders Week 18 Sunday Night Football Showdown Game Breakdown & NFL DFS Picks

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DraftKings NFL DFS showdown picks Week 4 Monday Night FOotball free expert cheat sheet optimal lineup optimizer projections rankings ownership advice tips Keenan Allen Derek Carr Justin Herbert

Welcome to the NFL Showdown Matchups Showdown Highlights for Week 18 Sunday Night Football. Here we will provide a quick overview of the game’s key storylines and highlight some of the key insights from Awesemo’s world-class suite of tools to find the best NFL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel showdown lineups. Let’s dive into the NFL DFS picks today for the Week 18 Chargers vs. Raiders Sunday Night Football matchup.

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Week 18 Sunday Night Football NFL DFS Showdown Picks

The Chargers head to Las Vegas to take-on the Raiders in a game that could have major implications for the AFC playoff picture, as the two division rivals compete in the final game of the NFL regular season. Both teams will be facing a “win and in” situation this Sunday night, meaning we could have an absolutely epic battle to close out the year. There’s an outside chance that both of these teams could make the playoffs, but it would require the Jaguars to somehow pull off the upset against the Colts in Week 18, and for these two teams to tie. Both coaches, particularly Chargers’ coach Brandon Staley, have vowed not to play into that scenario even if that option ultimately became available. As such, we should expect a hard-fought battle with playoffs-level intensity, and nearly zero chance we see starters rest, unlike Week 18’s Saturday night game.

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The Chargers will lean, first and foremost, on star running back Austin Ekeler ($11,600 DraftKings/$15,000 FanDuel), who has had arguably his finest season as a pro in 2021, and projects fantastically in our latest run of simulations. Ekeler ranks top-five at the position in weighted opportunities, red zone touches, targets, receptions, receiving yards, total touchdowns, and fantasy points per game. Despite having the third-most receptions in the NFL among running backs, Ekeler’s 9.4 yards per reception ranks sixth best among all backs this season. And despite the massive increase in volume, even in the red zone, Ekeler has remained as elusive a runner as ever, ranking top-12 at his position in total evaded tackles and rushes of ten-plus yards. He’s third in the NFL in yards created. With the Raiders ranking bottom-12 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses, and leaning towards being a run-funnel defense, we should expect Ekeler to handle at least 20 total opportunities, and depending on game script, that number could go beyond 25, which will likely include five-plus looks through the air.

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The passing game in Los Angeles has been excellent this season as well, as Justin Herbert ($11,400 DraftKings/$17,500 FanDuel) has continued his ascent in year two, and now ranks among the best quarterbacks in the league in a bevy of advanced metrics, despite this being just his second year in the NFL. Herbert ranks top-ten among quarterbacks in true passer rating and adjusted yards per attempt, and top-five in total EPA, total QBR, and fantasy points per game. His 35 passing touchdowns are the third highest of any signal-caller this season. While the Raiders will do everything in their power, including utilizing their top-ten pass-rush, to slow down Herbert and the Chargers’ passing attack, expect Herbert to find plenty of opportunities to get the ball to Keenan Allen ($10,400 DraftKings/$12,000 FanDuel), who has seen 25 targets over his past three games, and ranks top-ten at his position in routes run, targets, and red zone targets. Allen hasn’t seen double-digit looks in either of the last two games, but that likely changes tonight against the Raiders’ ho-hum secondary. Expect Herbert to mix-in a few deep shots to Mike Williams ($7,200 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel), who hasn’t quite as productive a second half but still ranks 22nd among all wideouts in targets and 15th in receiving yards. Jared Cook ($5,600 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel) will be a distant third option but has seen a 15.5% of red-zone targets since Week 10. Cook is the only other player besides the aforementioned “big three” on the Chargers averaging a double-digit target share during that same span.

The Raiders will go as far as quarterback Derek Carr ($10,000 DraftKings/$13,500 FanDuel) can take them in this contest. Though Carr’s efficiency numbers are not nearly as efficient as Herbert’s Carr still ranks right around, or slightly ahead-of, league average in most advanced efficiency metrics, and ranks fourth in the NFL in total passing yards. Las Vegas runs an extremely balanced offensive attack that isn’t afraid to utilize running back Josh Jacobs ($7,800 DraftKings/$12,000 FanDuel) upwards of thirty times if the game script calls for it, but they remain unafraid to take play-action shots with Carr, who ranks second in the NFL in play-action completion percentage this season. Carr’s 73.6% true completion percentage, which factors-out drops and throwaways, ranks fourth best among all quarterbacks this season. We can also reasonably expect Carr to lean on Hunter Renfrow ($8,400 DraftKings/$13,000 FanDuel), who has seen a team-high 41 targets over his last five games. Renfrow is the only Raiders player with double-digit target upside, but interestingly enough, Zay Jones ($6,400 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) has seen more weighted opportunity, earning 38% of the team’s air yards on just two less targets than Renfrow, over the same five-game span. Foster Moreau ($2,600 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel) is the only other player on the team averaging four or more targets per game since Week 10.

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Over his last four games, Bryan Edwards ($1,800 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) has averaged 3.5 targets per game with an average depth of target of over 10.0. Edwards has averaged 68% snap share during that span, just 9% lower than Hunter Renfrow, indicating that he’s approaching starter status in the receiving corps. DeSean Jackson ($1,400 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) has seen roughly equal opportunity, but is used exclusively as a deep threat. His aDOT is over 15.0 and none of his targets have come from inside the opponents’ 20 yard-line. Each have similar salaries and make for quality tournament plays, though it would be overly risky to roster both in a single lineup. In the running game, Peyton Barber ($1,000 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) will spell Jacobs occasionally but looks like a much lower-probability play than the Raiders’ tertiary weapons this Sunday.

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The Chargers’ passing attack has been highly concentrated over their last eight games. In games they’ve been active, Allen, Williams and Cook have earned nearly 59% of team targets, and nearly 72% of team air yards, creating little opportunity for consistent production from the Los Angeles auxiliary weapons. Third-round pick Josh Palmer ($4,200 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) has seen middling usage over his last eight games, earning 27 targets, including eight in the red zone, during that span, but his salary, four-times the amount of similarly utilized Raiders, makes him a tough play, despite crossing the 50% snap share threshold during that span. Even Jalen Guyton ($4,800 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel), who averages just 2.4 targets per game over the season’s second half, has an increased salary, simply because he’s on the Chargers. Neither player pops in our top plays tool, but they can be stacked with Captain Justin Herbert if looking to get unique in large-field tournament play. Expect Justin Jackson ($5,200 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel) to act as Ekeler’s direct backup this Sunday in the Chargers’ backfield. Despite Ekeler’s continued success near the goal line, Jackson has quietly earned 32% of the Chargers’ rush attempts inside the red zone, making him, at the very least, an intriguing pivot from the starting backs

The Bottom Line (FanDuel New York Betting Offer)

With a 49.5-point total, the highest in all of Week 18, we certainly have a chance for offensive fireworks in the NFL season finale, but the high total and close spread doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Both teams remain perfectly content to lean on their running backs, and both defenses struggle mightily against stopping opposing rushing attacks. This could lead to a situation where both teams are efficient on the ground, which in-turn, keeps the clock moving and lowers the total amount of plays in the game. While both passing attacks, particularly Los Angeles, gave the requisite talent to have produce have-to-have-it scores from a receiver, the probability of any receiver hitting their absolute ceiling is lower slightly due to the likely success of both running backs. While there could be plenty of quality football, and even plenty of scoring, the concern about play volume still leads us to highly considering betting the under on this high-total, and to bet heavily on both Jacobs and Ekeler when building DFS lineups.

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Week 18 Sunday Night Football Prediction: Chargers 24, Raiders 20

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If you’re interested in other NFL DFS tools for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, DFS NFL rankings, and DFS NFL stacking. Take a look at our depth charts for NFL games, NFL inactives and NFL starting lineups. View our FanDuel NFL DFS ownership rankings and our DraftKings DFS NFL ownership rankings. We also have NFL DFS showdown projections and NFL DFS showdown ownership projections.

A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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