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Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown: Week 4 Los Angeles Chargers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers




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The Chargers head to Tampa Bay for a showdown with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who are dealing with injuries galore on the offensive side of the ball. Can Justin Herbert steal a victory from the six-time champion Brady? For the 2020 NFL season, Matt Savoca will be providing his weekly NFL Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown column, going through every single game and offensive and defensive matchup, every week of the season. For your viewing convenience, we have broken up the matchups breakdown into several single columns, each one covering a single game. You can find links to every game right here. We have 12 games on tap for Week 4 NFL DFS and NFL Fantasy Football, so let’s dive in into the NFL DFS picks. The entire matchups article will be available in podcast form, every Friday afternoon on the Awesemo Podcast Network. Let’s get into the Chargers-Buccaneers fantasy football matchup and find the best NFL DFS picks for your NFL DFS lineups.

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Los Angeles Chargers (18.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26.5) – 1 p.m. ET

Los Angeles Chargers Passing Game

The Chargers officially ruled out Tyrod Taylor for Week 4, meaning we’ll get another week of the rookie Herbert against Tampa Bay. Herbert has hardly played mistake-free football, but he’s provided an obvious spark in the passing game, averaging the third-most passing yards per game in the NFL. Despite up-and-down play in both starts, Herbert has arguably been the more impressive of the rookie quarterbacks (they’re both winless) through three weeks, ranking 26th in drive success rate and 12th in expected points added per play, good enough for 17th among all quarterbacks in composite efficiency. The Buccaneers defense presents the toughest test yet for the young signal-caller, as Tampa ranks top five in PFF’s pass coverage grade, pass rush grade and overall defensive grade. He’ll be a boom-bust option at the position this week as the 17th-highest-priced quarterback on the main slate.

Keenan Allen had the most targets of any receiver in any game this season, leading the NFL with an astonishing 20 looks in Week 3. He’s had 30 targets over the last two games with Herbert in the lineup and now leads the league in the statistic through three games. His 20 catches over that same span ranks second. Most impressively, Allen, who has been traditionally used closer to the line of scrimmage with quarterback Philip Rivers, is getting open and targeted downfield with much more consistency this season, earning the highest true weighted opportunity share of any player through three weeks. It appears there was some validity to Allen’s beef with Madden 20 rankers, who left him out of the top 10 at the position to begin the year. He’s an incredible talent who’s tough to trust, even at a decent salary, as the 11th-highest-priced wideout on the slate.

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Bothered by a shoulder injury that has plagued him since training camp, Mike Williams has not practiced this week (as of Friday) and appears a longshot to play. The Chargers will absolutely miss the big-bodied Williams if he can’t go, as his value to the offense is greater rank in the 15% in true weighted opportunity share would imply. It should hone defense focus even more toward Allen, while allowing the Bucs to shade coverage toward tight end Hunter Henry, who is seventh among tight ends in targets since Herbert took over the reigns in Week 2. If the Buccaneers are successful in bottling up Henry and Allen, that could mean increased volume for the running backs, particularly Austin Ekeler, who ranks 13th among backs in true weighted opportunity share.

Los Angeles Chargers Running Game

Tampa Bay’s defense, led by coordinator Todd Bowles, covers the pass slightly better than the run this year, according to PFF unit grades, but over the past two seasons, the Buccaneers lead all defenses as the toughest unit against running backs in fantasy points versus opponent average. That doesn’t bode well for the one-two punch of Ekeler and Joshua Kelley, who have combined for 110 opportunities through two weeks, the most of any running back duo in the NFL (even more than Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in Cleveland). Ekeler is a virtual lock for 20 touches, but also a lock for fewer than 25 touches regardless of game environment. He’s 12th among all backs in targets this season. Kelley is the more game-flow-dependent back, though he seems to be the preferred option within 5 yards of the goal line (he outpaces Ekeler 2-0 this year). Both are pretty easy fade options this weekend against a tough Tampa Bay defense and likely playing from behind.

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Tampa Bay Passing Game

Brady had his best day as a Buccaneer in Week 3, throwing for 297 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a blowout of Denver. It was the first time Brady had crested the 250-yard mark this season, and his highest depth of target on the year thus far. The productive, efficient day for Brady improves his ranking in composite efficiency to 29th, but he’s still far off the place from his career averages. Nonetheless, the matchup at home against Los Angeles, who are now without stellar cornerback Chris Harris (placed on IR), should be an exploitable one for Brady. The Chargers rank 14th in coverage grade (that’s with Harris) and just 24th in pass rush grade. Brady, who’s yet to be sacked more than three times in a game this season, should have the time he needs to operate in the pocket, but dealing with a plethora of injuries, it’s not a complete certainty that the success we saw against Denver a week ago will automatically carry over into Week 4.

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After playing long enough to score a touchdown and earn six targets, Chris Godwin (hamstring) exited the Week 3 victory and has already been ruled out for Week 4. It’s his second missed game of the season already. Mike Evans, theoretically, should be relied on heavily once again. He saw 10 targets when Godwin missed Week 2 but ranks outside the top 50 players in average target share this season. He’s worth considering as the 13th-highest-priced wide receiver on the slate, right in line with Awesemo’s projection for Evans this weekend.

With Scott Miller looking like he’ll also miss this week, Brady may end up force-feeding Evans, but equally likely is the possibility that targets get spread out to auxiliary weapons O.J. Howard, Rob Gronkowski and LeSean McCoy. Of the trio, only Howard has received more than 15% of the Buccaneers’ total pass volume, the others are speculative plays at best.

Miami Rushing Game

Leonard Fournette (ankle) will miss Week 4, leaving the backfield duties primarily to Ronald Jones. Jones is averaging 26% of the Tampa Bay opportunities but stands to gain a large majority of Fournette’s 18% opportunity share, with McCoy, who’s yet to receive 7% of the team’s opportunities in a game this year, mixing in on passing downs. As massive home favorites, and with a salary of only $4,700 on DraftKings, Jones will undoubtedly be one of the highest-owned running backs on the slate. He’s got a great chance to pay off nonetheless.

Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Chargers 14.


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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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