Cal in the NFL: Week 8 Recap

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With Jared Goff on a bye, Aaron Rodgers injured and Marshawn Lynch suspended, there is ample time to look deeper into the weeks and contexts of the three big California wide receivers in the league. While none of them found the end zone Sunday, the outlook is not quite so bleak for all of them in coming weeks. Let’s see whose Sunday was most productive.

Keenan Allen

4 receptions, 61 yards

The Chargers’ offense has been relatively quiet their last two games, scoring a combined 34 points. In that same stretch, quarterback Philip Rivers has averaged just under 200 passing yards, so it comes as no surprise that Keenan Allen has not had eye-popping fantasy performances.

Once again, Allen set his season-low on passing targets, finishing with just five on Sunday. It’ll be a while before anything gets much better, as Los Angeles has their bye this coming week before facing the top-ranked passing defense in the NFL in the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars’ one-two punch of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey will prove a difficult test for Allen and the rest of the Bolts’ receiving core. The coaching staff of the Chargers should be aware that the Jaguars do have an achilles heel in their run defense; they rank last in the NFL in allowing yards per game to opposing running backs.

Expect the Chargers to feature their dynamic tailback Melvin Gordon as well as emerging running back Austin Ekeler. Allen should have a relatively quiet Sunday, and should be benched for other receivers with more favorable matchups if possible.

Marvin Jones Jr.

6 receptions, 128 yards

Marvin Jones Jr. finally seems to be heating up on the season, posting back to back games with more than 90 receiving yards and over 10 targets. Jones Jr. was active early, with a 43-yard catch early in the first quarter to put the Lions in great field position; this eventually resulted in a field goal.

Despite not finding the end zone Sunday, starting Jones Jr. should be a relatively safe venture the next two weeks as Detroit will play against a mediocre Green Bay secondary next Monday night and then the winless Cleveland Browns team. If the 3-4 Lions are going to make the playoffs, they are going to heavily rely on quarterback Matthew Stafford to have some big games, and either Marvin Jones Jr. or Golden Tate look to be the beneficiaries of an increased passing attack. From this point out on the season, Jones Jr. should be a decent low-end WR start or flex if you need him.

DeSean Jackson

3 receptions, 37 yards

The Tampa Bay offense was heavily stifled again Sunday, as the Carolina Panthers limited them to a paltry three points on the day. The Panthers’ secondary absolutely shut down any hopes of big-plays from DeSean Jackson, as he only brought in three of eight targets for a long of 19 yards on the day. The next matchup for the Bucs is against a surprisingly strong Saints defense who has limited opponents to an average of 14.5 points over their past two games. New Orleans is also red-hot right now, winning their past five games.

Do not count on Tampa Bay, whose last four games have all been losses, to put together a cohesive offensive day against the surging New Orleans team. Jackson should be benched next week before being re-evaluated for the Bucs matchup against Buffalo.

Ethan Epstein writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].