With the fantasy football playoffs heading into their second week, managers were likely surprised to see Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen appear on the injury report as a game-time decision to play Thursday night. Justin Herbert’s favorite target has seen one of his best fantasy seasons to date and would put managers in a tough place if he doesn’t play during their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. What is his most recent injury status, and what can we expect from Keenan Allen if he does suit up?
Updated December 17th, 2020: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, both Los Angeles Chargers’ WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams will play tonight, per source. But both will be on “a rep count.”
Keenan Allen a true game-time decision on Thursday night due to a hamstring injury
Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Keenan Allen missed some time due to a hamstring injury. He was in and out of the game but was still able to produce a somewhat productive fantasy performance with nine catches for 52 yards a touchdown. His touchdown meant that he has scored in all but one game since Week 7.
Since Herbert took over for Tyrod Taylor as the starter, Keenan Allen has seen his production increase. He is currently the WR5 on the season with eight touchdowns and 975 receiving yards. Since the first week of the regular season, Allen has seen over double-digit targets in every game except for two. His best performance coming in Week 11 against the New York Jets (16 catches for 145 yards and one TD).
Hopes were high that Allen would be able to replicate that success against a struggling Las Vegas defense that will likely be without a number of starters. Unfortunately, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is now reporting that Keenan Allen remains questionable, and if he does play, he will likely be limited.
The question now becomes, if Allen does play in a limited fashion, should he be in your fantasy football starting lineup?
Can Allen do enough to help you win in the fantasy football playoffs?
There is no question that Keenan Allen can do enough given his talent. It all comes down to how many opportunities the team will allow him is the issue.
There is a fine balance that needs to be played between going conservative while also not killing your upside. Sitting someone like Keenan Allen is never going to be an easy thing to do. Especially in a win or go home situation. In all likelihood, Allen being the WR5 on the season in PPR played a massive part in your season’s success.
Unfortunately, in our biggest game, we now have to guess what head coach Antony Lynn is going to do. If you have seen any Chargers games this year, particularly in the fourth quarter, you know how hard this is to do. With the increasing likelihood that fellow WR Mike Williams will not play, Keenan Allen will see all the work he can handle on the field.
The risk is the nature of the injury itself. Hamstring injuries can be reaggravated at any time, and once that happens, the player is done for the day. Is it a massive risk? Absolutely. But it is one that I am going to take in my fantasy leagues.
It’s hard to leave Keenan Allen on your bench knowing the team’s WR2 is likely out with a back issue. The Chargers aren’t playing for the playoffs, and they know that. Let’s say they sit Allen tonight, hypothetically. Would they play him again with nothing on the line? I say this because as much as players might not admit this, they look at their stats, especially wide receivers. During tonight’s game, Allen could set several new records. I would bet this is on his mind, and he wants to achieve those records in primetime.
Allen can set several personal records on Thursday
Thursday Night Football will mark his 100th game in the NFL, and every reception will be a record. Allen has the most receptions in NFL history through 100 games, and he hasn’t even played in the 100th game yet. Every catch from this point on is a new record.
He also needs one reception to reach 100 on the season. Which would mark the third time in his career he has 100 or more receptions and would make him the 13th player in NFL history to accomplish this feat.
Allen needs six receptions to reach 105 on the year. That would break his own single-season team record (104 in 2019). Allen also needs 25 yards to hit 1,000 on the season. It would be the fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season and fifth of his career. It would also be the longest streak by a Charger in over 50 years while also tieing for the second-longest active streak. He also needs one more touchdown to set a new career-high with nine. That would surpass the eight he had in his rookie season in 2013.
Keenan Allen, just like the rest of us, has something to play for, and I would put money on it he knows all of these stats.
Keenan Allen has a fantastic matchup on Thursday night against the Raiders
As long as his injury does not hinder his performance, Keenan Allen could end up as the WR1 by week’s end. While he has failed to go over 52 yards over his last three games, the volume gives Allen a massive floor. Over his last eight games, he has seen less than 10 targets only once (seven in Week 10). He has also scored a TD in six of his last seven games.
The Raiders are a team he torched in Week 9. In that game, Allen had nine receptions, 103 yards, and one touchdown. This made him one of seven wide receivers who’ve finished with 21-plus PPR points against the Raiders. The 16 wide receiver touchdowns they’ve allowed are tied for the fourth-most in football. Once in the red zone, teams focus on the receivers against the Raiders.
Through 13 games, Las Vegas had faced 46 red zone targets to WRs, including 17 in goal to go situations. Care to take a guess who is in the top 10 in targets in the red zone? You guessed it; it’s Keenan Allen. He has seen 15 red zone targets on the season, catching 12 for 112 yards and seven touchdowns. His 25.9% target share in the red zone is more than double the next closest WR for the Chargers (Williams with 12.1%).
The Raiders are also down four starters on defense. DE Clelin Ferrell, CB Damon Arnette, S Jonathan Abram, and LB Nicholas Morrow.
This game out be a mini-shootout, and looking at Willam Hill Sportsbook, they agree. The Chargers and Raiders game has the highest implied total of Week 15 at 52.5. The Chargers come in at 3.5 point underdogs, so all of this indicates a heavy workload for the passing game. Keenan Allen will be in my lineups and rankings as a WR1. QB Justin Herbert, RB Autin Ekeler, and TE Hunter Henry are all inside the top 10 at their positions.
If I get knocked out of the dance, I am going to go down with the one who brought me there.
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