The Los Angeles Chargers will not have Keenan Allen for the Week 2 opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Some of the reaction to Allen's injury may be to try and buy low on the depth players that will see more time inside the Los Angeles passing game.
The better strategy is to bet on players that already have established roles inside the Chargers offense that Justin Herbert can trust in what is expected to be a close game on the road.
If the Chargers were playing a game of lesser importance, you could go after the likes of Josh Palmer and Jalen Guyton, but I think we're going to see more of Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams and Gerald Everett.
Kansas City's offensive approach will not change and it is clear who the top wide receiver is on the depth chart and it is worth backing him in a potentially high-scoring game.
Austin Ekeler Over 37.5 Receiving Yards (-120)
Austin Ekeler Over 4.5 Receptions (-150)
Austin Ekeler is one of the constant fixtures inside the Los Angeles passing game.
The Chargers' top running back caught all four of his targets for 36 yards in Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Ekeler hauled in six catches for 52 yards in Kansas City in Week 3 last season. He caught four balls for 23 yards in the home matchup with Kansas City.
In the last three seasons, Ekeler averaged 6.2 receptions and 52.3 receiving yards against the Chiefs.
Ekeler was going to play a massive role in the Chargers approach even with Keenan Allen healthy, so I think his role will increase even more with the No. 1 wide receiver out for the visitors.
It is also worth noting that Kansas City gave up 33 receiving yards to Eno Benjamin and 29 receiving yards to James Conner in Week 1. Herbert and Ekeler could find a soft spot in the Kansas City defense that makes the running back a vital part of the passing attack.
Mike Williams Over 67.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
Mike Williams feels like a forgotten man inside the Los Angeles offense.
Once Allen went down, the focus went straight to Jalen Guyton, DeAndre Carter and Josh Palmer as potential value plays in the Los Angeles passing game.
Those three players will be involved in some capacity, but I think Herbert trusts his top target for Thursday night more than the others combined.
Williams had success on the road in Kansas City last season with 122 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches. That was earned with Allen on the field.
Williams was better on the road last season. Three of his four 100-yard games came away from Sofi Stadium. He had five or more receptions in half of Los Angeles' road games. The high totals were produced against Las Vegas, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Washington.
That suggests Herbert will go to Williams against a top opponent because of the trust built up between the two players.
Gerald Everett Over 41.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
Gerald Everett Anytime Touchdown Scorer (+225)
Gerald Everett was a sneaky pickup in the offseason by the Chargers.
Herbert utilized his tight ends well last season. He threw eight touchdown passes to the trio of Jared Cook, Donald Parham and Stephen Anderson.
Everett found the end zone in his Chargers debut. He also caught three of his four targets for 54 yards.
The Chargers tight end might end up as the biggest beneficiary from Allen's absence because he should earn more than four targets.
Using Everett across the middle and Ekeler out of the backfield should bring versatility to the Chargers offense and allow them to create holes in the red zone. Everett has the best touchdown price of the Chargers' three main pass catchers and I think he will get a few scoring looks after finding the end zone last week.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Over 55.5 Receiving Yards (-125)
JuJu Smith-Schuster quickly established himself as Patrick Mahomes' No. 1 wide out.
The former Pittsburgh wide out produced 79 yards on six catches in the Week 1 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Expect Smith-Schuster to see a ton of targets again on Thursday against a Chargers defense that did not fare well against Mahomes last season.
Mahomes had 670 passing yards and six touchdown throws in 2021 against Los Angeles. If he succeeds at that rate again on Thursday, Smith-Schuster will easily clear his receiving yard prop.