Fantasy Football Would You Rather: Chargers or Lions?

Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions
Will Jared Goff come out on top in his return to LA? (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Detroit and Los Angeles have a long, storied sports history — especially when the two cities have gone against each other. The question for us is, which of these two teams will deliver the most fantasy juice? Fantasy analysts Scott Pianowski and Jorge Martin play a little game of "Would You Rather" and take a side for which offense they like most in this matchup.

The case for the Chargers

When looking at the schedule for this week, I noticed that the Lions-Chargers might have a little extra meaning for Scott's and I's fun little back and forth since he's in Michigan and I’m out in LALA Land. Motor City Midwest-tough against the everyday-it’s-sunny backdrop of Hollywood. Thankfully, the Lions and Chargers have plenty of offensive stars who will remind us more of the Air Coryell Chargers of yesteryear than the Lions’ Billy Sims, Barry Sanders days of trying to win with the running game and nothing else.

On the LA side, Justin Herbert had his clunker of the season on Monday Night Football. Can you blame him when Sauce Gardner and his amigos regularly make it look like there are 13 men playing defense? This week Herbert is back home in that pretty powder-blue No. 10 jersey and slinging it in the somewhat-friendly confines of SoFi Stadium.

(Someone, please make sure that the Chargers superfan who went viral a few weeks ago is back at SoFi so there is at least one person not from the state of Michigan in the stands.)

Herbert is taking on a Lions’ defense that saw Lamar Jackson put on a clinic with 357 passing yards and three touchdowns in Week 7. Though Aidan Hutchinson and the Detroit D-line is formidable, the LA O-line has done a much better job protecting Herbert at home — 14 road sacks allowed vs. six at home — so I’m expecting him to have time to find Keenan Allen early and often. Allen is averaging 10.4 targets per game he’s turned into 62 catches for 720 yards and four scores to be the WR4 going into this week. He’s apparently the last man standing from the Chargers’ wideouts that’s otherwise a MASH unit, so training staff, please keep him stretched and spry.

Luckily for Austin Ekeler, he’s really good at catching passes because the Lions say THOU SHALT NOT RUN. The Lions are second in the league with 76.8 rushing yards allowed, so Ekeler will get plenty of work via the air. In Week 7, Baltimore running backs accounted for 142 receiving yards, so there’s your blueprint, Austin. Sneaky plays could be Donald Parham Jr. and Gerald Everett, who are going against the 30th-ranked defense against the tight end.

And don’t look now: with the Lions bringing their dynamic RB duo to LA, the Chargers have firmed up against the run, with no ball carrier surpassing 58 rushing yards since Week 4. All the more reason for a passing fest and hitting the over on that 48.5 line.

There is history between these cities. The Bad Boys Pistons and Showtime Lakers had their battles in the '80s. Kirk Gibson came to LA from Detroit to make the most Hollywood of endings. Even Matthew Stafford left Motown to win a Super Bowl with the Chargers’ neighbors down the hall. Cue up Randy Newman on Sunday, because I Love LA! Chargers 28, Lions 24. — Martin

The case for the Lions

You can love LA all you want, my friend. Sunday in SoCal, it's going to sound like Detroit Rock City. Everyone knows the Chargers have zero home-field advantage. It's not cold yet in Michigan (though it did snow lightly on Halloween), but I'm sure some Michiganders will welcome a sunny vacation, and a chance to take over someone else's stadium.

The Chargers offense gets a pass against the Jets, I suppose, but LA hasn't figured things out since Mike Williams got hurt. Williams was the WR15 through three weeks, and the Bolts were humming at 417 yards per week. Since then: the Chargers average a paltry 296 yards a week, with a high of 358. Keenan Allen is still a reliable pro, but you can't live on a diet of Allen passes. This downfield passing game needs a second pitch, and I don't see one. Rookies deserve time to develop, but it's shocking how unready to play Quentin Johnston appears to be.

The Lions have a perfect fantasy offense. A plus quarterback in Jared Goff, check. Probably the best offensive line in the league, check. Snappy play designer in Ben Johnson, check. And the skill guys do different things and complement each other well.

I know Jahmyr Gibbs' managers are frustrated to see David Montgomery back, but there's enough work to go around. Goff obviously isn't a runner and the Lions don't mess around with three backs. In this era where bell cows are essentially gone, a two-man committee is fine if it's a plus offense, and this obviously is.

The pass catchers are perfectly arranged, too. Amon-Ra St. Brown (shout out, USC) gets his 10-plus targets off the bus, uncoverable on those option routes, and Sam LaPorta is ripping up all the rookie tight end rules. The other targets are complementary types and probably unusable for fantasy, but that's okay; they have enough vertical threats to clear room for the primary guys. Detroit has five no-doubt fantasy starters every week when everyone is healthy, and not many teams can say that.

I don't dislike the Detroit defense, either — it's eighth in DVOA (while the Chargers are 23rd). Last year the Lions were dead last in yards allowed; this year, they're fifth. DC Aaron Glenn, take a bow. It's not a difficult recipe — the secondary was beefed up, the pass rush can get home without needing to blitz, and the entire unit plays with a mix of intelligence and swagger. It's a good week to go over the Justin Herbert turnover prop.

Lions 27, Chargers 17. And it won't even feel that close. — Pianowski