By Stephen Dolan
Christmas Eve features a matchup of AFC West rivals. Both rumored to move to Los Angeles next season, the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders have already been eliminated from the postseason; but with the fantasy football playoffs nearing its end, it’s crucial to get the right players in or out of your lineup on Thursday night.
Play: Philip Rivers (vs. OAK)
Rivers put up a big game on Sunday against Miami completing 26 of his 36 pass attempts for 311 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions as the Chargers picked up their fourth win of the season. The offensive outburst came after San Diego was held to three points in each of their last two games. Rivers threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions in San Diego’s previous victory on November 29. Play Rivers against a weak Oakland secondary.
Pass: Derek Carr (vs. SD)
Carr has taken a big leap forward for the Oakland Raiders in his second season, throwing for 3,589 yards and 30 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions while completing 61 percent of his passes. Despite his impressive numbers this season, he has struggled with accuracy the last two weeks, posting completion percentages below 50 percent in each game and passing for just 411 yards combined in the two games. Pass on Carr this week.
Play: Latavius Murray (vs. SD)
Murray is coming off a decent game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, rushing 21 times for 78 yards. He is now averaging 4.1 yards per carry on the season with 956 yards. Murray was bottled up against the Broncos on December 13 but went off against the Chiefs on December 6, when he rushed 20 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Play Murray.
Pass: Danny Woodhead (vs. OAK)
Woodhead is going to see even more time on the field with rookie running back Melvin Gordon on injured reserve. Donald Brown got the bulk of the carries on Sunday against the Dolphins, rushing 12 times for 90 yards, but Woodhead was the bread winner. He rushed just eight times for 10 yards, but caught six passes for 50 yards and three touchdowns. Woodhead is going to see snaps, but his inability to contribute consistently as a rusher makes him a pass this week.
Play: Amari Cooper (vs. SD)
Cooper continues to show off the skills that made him the fourth overall selection in last May’s draft. He caught six of his nine targets for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Green Bay. It was the fifth time this season Cooper has posted at least 100 receiving yards and he now has a team-leading 1,040 receiving yards to go along with 68 receptions and six touchdowns on the season. Play Cooper.
Pass: Dontrelle Inman (vs. OAK)
Inman has become a bigger part of the Chargers offense since wide receiver Keenan Allen went down with a season-ending injury on November 1. Inman posted 78 yards on three receptions in Sunday’s victory over Miami. He was targeted five times giving him five or more targets in four of his last five games and 50 or more yards in three of those five. Despite his success over the last month and a half, pass on him Thursday night.
Play: Antonio Gates (vs. OAK)
Gates is the top target for Philip Rivers in the San Diego offense. He caught six of his nine targets for 88 yards on Sunday. He has been targeted eight or more times in each of the last three games giving him plenty of chances to make a fantasy impact. The last game in which Gates did not record at least eight targets, he was targeted six times and caught four passes, including two touchdowns in a win over the Jaguars. Play Gates on Thursday.
Pass: Mychal Rivera (vs. SD)
Rivera is the primary tight end in the Oakland offense, but has not gotten a ton of looks this season; registering just 30 receptions and 268 yards with one touchdown on the year. He caught three passes for 20 yards on Sunday against the Packers. Rivera has only one game on the season in which he registered more than three receptions making him a sketchy fantasy football play. Pass on Rivera.
Play: Josh Lambo (vs. OAK)
Pass: Sebastian Janikowski (vs. SD)
Steve Dolan is an MBA student at Villanova University and a graduate of the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University. Steve co-founded Whiz Wit Sports, a Philadelphia-centric sports blog, in March 2011 growing the site to win PHL 17’s Best Local Blogger on the Philly Hot List in 2013.