Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert is not expected to play in Week 15 on Thursday Night Football vs. the Las Vegas Raiders after suffering a fractured right index finger, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Herbert suffered the injury during a loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 14 on Sunday. The initial diagnosis was that Herbert would miss time and may require surgery, which would effectively end his season. The Chargers are 5-8 and outside the playoff picture, so this injury has big-time fantasy football implications.
Despite poor coaching and a handful of injuries on offense, Herbert had been having a solid season. If his season were to end today, Herbert would finish with 3,134 passing yards, 20 TDs and seven INTs over 13 games (it’s more like 12). RB Austin Ekeler has missed time and isn’t nearly the same running back. WR Keenan Allen has been able to stay healthy but WRs Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer have not. Williams tore his ACL earlier in the season after just three games. Palmer has only played eight games this season. Rookie WR Quentin Johnston has been a major disappointment. So all things considered, Herbert shouldn’t be blamed for the Chargers’ poor showing in 2023.
Fantasy football impact
Easton Stick is the backup QB and should take over the rest of the season, that is unless Herbert shakes things off and tries to play (which would be dumb at this point). We shouldn’t expect much from Stick at QB and he doesn’t appear to be a viable option to replace Herbert. This will have big implications for Herbert, Allen and Ekeler managers the rest of the fantasy season, which is just the playoffs for most leagues. There’s not much you can do if Allen is on your roster. Hopefully you have decent depth at WR and can play another player. It may be too risky to play Allen in a playoff matchup with Stick under center on a short week.
This injury isn’t great for Ekeler or the run game but it could be what the Chargers lean on the rest of the season. That could mean Ekeler and RB Joshua Kelley see a lot of touches to mitigate Stick having to throw the ball. Though, if the Chargers are trailing, Stick will be forced to throw if the team is playing from behind. Really, Ekeler and Allen are the only players on Los Angeles you’d maybe consider in fantasy at this point. Everyone else shouldn’t be viable if Herbert is out.
Chargers playoff chances
If you’re wondering if the Chargers can still win out and make the playoffs somehow, the chances are incredibly slim. Los Angeles has little time to prepare without its starting QB for a division matchup vs. the Raiders, who are also in a similar spot in the standings. Las Vegas had been mostly playing for pride after firing Josh McDaniels. Even if the Chargers were to beat the Raiders in Week 15, the rest of their schedule is: vs. Bills, @ Broncos, vs. Chiefs. Those all look like losses on paper without Herbert. So this should mean the Chargers are missing the postseason and a lot of changes should come this offseason.