Right now across the country, there are scores and scores of people working hard at setting their fantasy football lineup. These people are watching highlights, calculating and comparing statistics, reading injury reports and new reports and comparing their bench players to their starters. Many of these people have Chargers on their roster. You may not be impressed by the lengths that some will go to field the best team possible each week, and that’s okay. Impressed or not, I believe that deciding whether or not to start a Charger became extremely difficult thanks to last week’s schizophrenic season opener against the Chiefs.
For the average fantasy player it is not that difficult to make decisions on who should play and who should sit on your bench. Big named players generally start no matter how much they stunk the week before. Guys who had breakout games will normally start to see if one can catch lightning in a bottle. Players who are going up against a team that struggles against a certain position will also get a chance. The problem is that when considering what Chargers to start, one must look at last Sunday’s game as the proverbial tale of two halves.
You see, if the first half of the game, the Chargers looked like world beaters. They ran the ball with authority. They passed the ball down the field with relative ease. They scored at a pace that should have landed them in the 40’s by the final gun. Even the defense stepped up and was shutting down the Chiefs offense. Everything was great in Charger Country! You could not go wrong picking most players to start for your fantasy team. Heck, owners who had the courage to start Melvin Gordon were thinking they were going to be fantasy legends! Then it happened. Star wide receiver Keenan Allen blew out his knee and the Chargers lost their will to live.
Yes, it was shortly after the devastating injury to Allen that his team stopped being productive. Honestly, the second half was the polar opposite of the first. In fact, the loss to Allen seemed to affect everyone, including the coaching staff! It was like a completely different team. Players who dominated in the first half, laid down in the second half, or were effectively benched (see Melvin Gordon). Coaches who were aggressive in the first half were passive in the second. It was as if it were Week 5 of the preseason and the starters only played half of the game. The strange thing was that the replacements were wearing the same numbers as the starters! So how is one supposed to know who to start for their fantasy team? Let’s take a look at some key players and see how last week’s games will impact your decision.
Philip Rivers (QB): I would think that Rivers gets a pass (no pun intended). He put up very good numbers in the first half, with a touchdown and approximately 150 yards in the air. Two things about Rivers’ game that are somewhat disconcerting to fantasy owners are that two of the Chargers touchdowns were on the ground and that the offense completely shut down in the second half. The rushing touchdowns are a concern to fantasy owners because they showed that this perceived commitment to the run, that came to the team with the signing of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, seems to be reality. That means fewer touchdowns for Rivers. He also lost his second favorite target when Allen went down, so the run should have been used even more. The Bolts did try to throw the ball in the second half, but you could see that Rivers had lost his poise and had “happy feet” in the pocket. His accuracy was off as well as he missed a couple of key passes that would have moved the chains, and even more importantly, ran the clock. Now, fantasy owners have to wonder which Rivers they will get? The Rivers who throws the ball all over the field, or the Rivers who hands it off inside the 10-yard line? If you have a stud QB on the bench, you may want to start him until the Chargers figure out how they want to use their best asset.
Melvin Gordon (RB): I was one of the risky fantasy owners who chose to believe that Flash Gordon was back! In the first half, he knocked out around 50 yards and had two touchdowns! The Chargers built a nice lead and it was obvious that Gordon would pound the rock all day and rack up the yards and fantasy points. Then halftime came and apparently the adjustment that the Chargers brain-trust came up with was to sit Gordon on the bench, put Rivers in the shotgun and hand it off to Woodhead. I could not believe what I was seeing, despite having been a long-time Chargers fan. So what are we going to get from Gordon going forward? Will coach McCoy trust him for all four quarters? Hard to start a guy who may vanish at any time.
Danny Woodhead (RB): Always a solid player who can get you rushing yards as well as receiving yards. He is supposed to be the third-down back, but seemed to be the number one guy in the second half. You may want to give him a start, but beware that McCoy and Whisenhunt may learn from the past and actually use Gordon more this week. Tough call.
Antonio Gates (TE): Not a real exciting game for San Diego’s future Hall of Famer. Only targeted four times and he came down with three receptions for 20 yards. Basically a possession receiver who normally gets a shot in the endzone. No touchdowns last week. Maybe they are setting up the Jaguars for a big day for Gates.
Hunter Henry (TE): This kid has great hands and runs well. He appears to be the heir apparent to his mentor, Antonio Gates. In Week 1, he was only targeted two times and had one reception for 20 yards. Hopefully, he will become a larger part of the offense going forward. But again, there is no certainty for when he will break out.
Tyrell Williams (WR): Here is an interesting situation. With Allen out, Williams could become a larger part of the Chargers’ offensive plans. He was targeted five time but only had two receptions. Although his receptions per target numbers are down, he did gain 71 yards! Yes, both of his receptions were big plays that ate up large chunks of the field. The Chargers desperately need a big play option down the field. Will Williams fill the role?
Dontrelle Inman (WR): Another wide receiver who has had some big catches in his young career. He seems to be an obvious pick to become a replacement for Allen. That being said, he only had one catch on three targets for a grand total of six yards. Hardly encouraging. You could take a shot and pick this kid up, but I would sit him on your bench until he proves he can put up some points.
Defense/Special Teams (DEF/ST): Again, if the defense that came out in the first half shows up for four quarters, they will be worth a fantasy start. They held their opponent to three points and completely shut down the run. They even managed to get to the quarterback. Then came the second half where they allowed Alex Smith, a noted game manager, to throw for a total of 330 yards and gave up a respectable 83 on the ground. Running backs catching passes out of the backfield was the Achilles Heal for the Chargers all day. They simply could not stop the backs from getting key first downs through the air. As for special teams, they weren’t that special. The return game was non-existent. Place kicker Josh Lambo had a respectable game, but did miss one huge field goal that could be considered the difference in the game. I’ll cut him some slack though since that field goal was 54 yards. He had the distance, he just left it out to the right. It happens from that distance all the time. But what all this shows is that even the Def/ST can’t be trusted to perform for an entire game.
To be completely honest, and take away all fan loyalty away, there are no Chargers who should be a lock to start for your fantasy football team this week. Philip Rivers is probably your best bet as he routinely scores in the high teens to low twenties. Then again, the Jaguars defense only gave up 199 yards passing to Aaron Rodgers last week. Anything is possible, but unless the Chargers coaching staff decides to stay aggressive for all four quarters, fantasy dream games could turn into fantasy nightmares.
Good luck with your matchups this week. I hope you have a deep bench and didn’t rely on our Bolts to make the difference for you this week!
Please leave your comments below. I will answer all questions and reply to all comments.
It is fantasy football time for everyone, and roster battles are being won and lost throughout the league as training camp begins to turn over to the preseason. There looks to be some great value coming out of America’s Finest City this year, so in this article we’ll take a look at the possibilities and where and when they should be considered during the draft process.
QB Philip Rivers
Most rankings that I’ve looked at place Rivers around 10-15 among quarterbacks entering 2014. Typically that’s behind guys like Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, and Tony Romo. Yes, the offense will be balanced, and the home run ball is no longer the focal point for Rivers. That being said, Rivers has great red zone targets in Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green, Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Danny Woodhead, and as we saw last year, Eddie Royal.
The Charger offense is built around ball control, as they led the league in third down conversion percentage and time of possession. Rivers also led the league, and set a career high, in completion percentage at 69.5%. Completions are production.
Floyd is back as a full-time target and deep threat, and Keenan Allen is an every down scoring threat. If new offensive coordinator Frank Reich truly stays the course while adding some flashes down the field, Rivers could be set for another great year. He may even eclipse his solid numbers from 2013.
Inconsistency at the quarterback position drives fantasy owners crazy. Having a double-digit swing every week isn’t ideal, which is why Rivers isn’t as heralded as some other signal callers despite being named comeback player of the year. It was shortly after the loss of Floyd that the truly benchable totals began to register. If the receiving unit is healthy, along with the offensive line, it’d be a steal to get Rivers any later than the third or fourth round. There’s still risk, but high reward as well.
Round 3/4 could make sense if you are targeting Rivers as your QB1, unless there’s a run on QBs early. I still like Rivers over Romo, Wilson, Newton, and even Ryan. East coast bias will not win games. RGIII over Rivers? I’m not even too crazy about that. An array of weapons, a second year in the spread style offense, and less shuffling of the offensive line should all lead to more consistent production as your full-time QB1.
RB Ryan Mathews
Here is another guy who has driven fantasy owners crazy. The Chargers shaky red zone percentages were certainly seen in Mathews’ fantasy numbers. Having Danny Woodhead around also sucked up some of the typical bell cow back production levels. Although an ideally put together goal line guy, the playcalling of Ken Whisenhunt trended more toward failed pass attempts than punching it in on the ground. Ken is gone, and it remains to be seen what the new focus on red zone offense will provide the run game. If Ryan can secure the ball and stay on the ground…he should still receive the lion’s share of the goal line carries.
Bringing Donald Brown into the equation doesn’t help Mathews potential owners feel confident. But, just because the multi-back ability exists, doesn’t mean that the feature back’s production will fall off too much. See San Francisco, Frank Gore.
I wouldn’t want to spend a pick on Mathews until at least the sixth round. Depending on the size of the league, he’s likely an RB2 until proven otherwise. High upside, but has a lot of guys in front of him.
RB Danny Woodhead
Polarizing. You’d love to have him, but where and when do you confidently use him? If your league is ten or more, grab him. Sure, he may see a good amount of bench time, but when the matchup problems become apparent week to week, Danny can get hot. As I mentioned, RB2s can be frustrating and tricky these days. Multi-back systems and spread offenses are making the workhorse back irrelevant to some degree. This forces fantasy owners to be much craftier with their RB decisions than in years past. Danny is versatile, and that’s the name of the game.
Woodhead is a dynamic threat in the passing game. Yes, the Chargers did bring in Donald Brown, but he’s more of an insurance hand cuff to Mathews than he is a threat to Danny’s playing time. If you’re in a ten plus team league, consider Woodhead as a mid to high-end RB2/Flex. He’ll have plenty of opportunities, and is so trusted by everyone on this offense, that there will be scoring plays drawn up just for him.
Round 5 or 6 in any size league should land you Woodhead. He’s a hugely productive player in deeper leagues, surprisingly productive player in shallower ones. More often than not, he’s a great flex option most weeks.
WR Keenan Allen
What a rookie season Keenan had. He won’t be nearly the surprise gem that he was as defenses begin to key on him, but he still holds plenty of fantasy value. He’ll be the true number one target for Rivers this year, as he has slightly more tools than Malcolm Floyd. At his best, he could project to be very similar to Reggie Wayne in playing style and ability.
The Charger offense is designed to give Philip Rivers a lot of options at the line of scrimmage. Allen will be high on the list of those options, but the list is rather lengthy, and Rivers has become a great distributor. The team prides itself on unselfish decisions and play, and while there will be plays drawn up for Allen, they won’t force the issue.
The good news for anyone owning Keenan is that he’s great after the catch and in the open field. Ask the Denver Broncos about that if you need confirmation. He’ll be a starter every week as a high-end WR2 on most teams, flirting with WR1 slotting depending on the match ups.
Pick up Allen in the third or fourth, ideally after your first RB, QB, and RB2/WR1.
WR Malcom Floyd
It’s tough to gauge Malcom right now. By all accounts he looks better than ever, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen him play, and even then, only two games within the new offense. The fact of the matter is Malcom will be on the field in every 2-wide set, if available. So, there’s that. He’ll have every opportunity to be a number one or two for Philip Rivers.
After having seen only one preseason game, it’s clear that Frank Reich has plans for Floyd’s skill set. Ex-CFL player Dontrelle Inman is built a lot like Floyd. From what we saw against the Cowboys in preseason week one, it looks as though the deep, double move, and go routes are back in action. Inman’s 70 yard score from Kellen Clemens is at least a glimpse into the playbook. Testing both reserve players is one thing, but if you’ve heard Mike McCoy speak at all during training camp, you’ve heard about installations. If plays like that are part of these installations, then expect Floyd to be the downfield target against soft coverages.
Malcom has a high ceiling with Rivers throwing him the ball. They know each other very well at this point, and M-80 is itching for a rebound year.
The offense is all about control. Completions, position, and taking what the defense gives them. So, while Floyd won’t be forced the ball, he stands as a high risk, high reward type of player. Likely dropping down to the 6th or 7th round area due to having not been on the field all of last year. He can make a great addition to your bench until you can weigh his actual season worth. It may seem odd to Charger faithful to drop Floyd to round 7, but with Philip being ranked where he is typically, anyone drafting from the official rankings won’t be targeting Malcom for a while.
TE Antonio Gates
I was having a discussion with a friend recently about Gates’ upcoming production. Apparently, from a fantasy football perspective, I was all but ready to give up on him as a full-time TE1. I’m pretty sure I was talked out of it, and rightfully so.
Gates hasn’t been on the field as much as he would like over the past few seasons, and even when he has soaked up playing time, he seemed to be a step off from our rather high expectations. That being said, he still managed 77 receptions and over 800 yards in 2013. The four total touchdowns is, I think, what was bothering me.
If a healthier, leaner, quicker Gates enters the 2014 season at full speed, then I am forced to reconsider my projections. Antonio Gates is the man. Granted, he’s an older version of the man, but still the man. The chemistry with Philip Rivers, the football intelligence, and a healthy body could mean a huge year from 85.
It’s that healthy body thing that also bothers me though. Foot injuries have long hampered Gates, and there are stretches where it’s apparent that he’s running decoy routes. We all want Antonio to be the top tight end in the league, but he won’t be. He may not even be the top on the team.
Rivers has a lot of targets, and Antonio’s days of outrunning defenders are likely behind him. He will be relying on craftiness and great hands for production this year, and I honestly believe Gates begins to lose chunks of targets to Ladarius Green.
If you want Antonio on your team, you’ll still have to draft him relatively early, as his career and reputation will have him ranked a bit high among tight ends. It pains me to say, and I hope I’m wrong, but there are probably some really tempting options to consider before going with Gates. If I’m targeting him, I’m sticking at TE2/Flex, and waiting until later rounds.
TE Ladarius Green
Tight end has become a much more reliable points-fueling spot over the past several seasons. I’ve found that having a top tight end can be more reliable than many RB2s. Am I saying I’d draft Ladarius Green over Ryan Mathews? Maybe. He doesn’t quite have the hands yet, and it is a projection of possibility over production, but I tend to believe this guy is gonna be big.
Many leagues now offer the option of the flex slot including TEs along with the WRs an RBs. If this is the case in your league, you may want to consider Green, and the tight end position, as valuable as I do.
Green still has a lot to prove before he cracks the top 10 at his position, but he certainly has the tools, the support of the playbook, and the trust of quarterback Philip Rivers. Antonio Gates is obviously no slouch, but Green is the future. He moves fluidly in the red zone, and finds soft spots in the defense very easily, reminiscent of Vincent Jackson in his days as a Bolt.
In an effort to make a long story short, go tight end early, and I mean earlier than you may feel comfortable doing so. Green isn’t worthy of a top four pick for your team, yet, but he’ll be a sneaky good pickup in the mid rounds. I’d take him as early as fifth overall to my squad, which I know sounds crazy. But with an option to flex him in every week in conjunction with another TE filling the main slot, he may prove very intriguing and very valuable. Imagine getting both Gates and Green and playing them together.
Every year the Charger fans and I say that this will be the year the D/ST comes up big for our fantasy teams. Every year we look around and realize the mediocrity we’ve set ourselves up for by thinking such a thing. Sure, there’s the every once in a while explosive multi-sack, two plus turnover, or good special teams game, but rarely do they happen together or often enough to rely on as your starting D/ST.
With no clear return threat entering the season, and unknown productivity measures along the front seven, it’s difficult to want to pull the trigger. The good news is that if the Bolts catch fire early in the season, they’ll be sitting right there on waivers just waiting for a home. So, Charger faithful, if there’s a better option, you should probably do that. But know that the Chargers will be ready and waiting for if you need to make a change.
The other guy
Eddie Royal started 2013 with a bang. He had a career first month of the season, but his production fell off just as quickly. Eddie is the third receiver, and probably not the third target. Eddie was reliable for Rivers and this offense a year ago, but wasn’t necessarily the same on the fantasy end. Typical ten person leagues shouldn’t draft Royal, so he’ll be there to pick up after the draft is over and you need to dump a bench player after week one or two. He’ll have some explosive weeks, but the Chargers receiving corps is filling up, the tight ends are world-class, and the run balance is for real. In deeper leagues, or potentially PPR leagues, he may be worth slotting, but it would be a leap of faith.
The sneaky few
If you’re playing in some larger leagues, you’re forced to see the player pool much differently from most common ten person leagues. So, you seek the sleepers. Every team has ’em, but they could end up being a gamble or a goldmine.
Have you heard the legend of former Baylor Bear Tevin Reese? When looking at his collegiate numbers, 21 of 24 touchdowns in his collegiate career registered 40 yards or longer. Well, that’s college, but speed is speed. How will he fit into the Charger offense? We don’t know if he will make the squad. If, however, Reese does make the final 53, he’ll get opportunities. There is no reason to draft Reese at all, but as the season rolls along, he may become the heir apparent to Eddie Royal’s slot receiving duties. Wait and see, but he’s still likely at least a season away from any fantasy impact.
Additional Charger Fantasy notes
If anything keeps Ryan Mathews from starting multiple games this season, pick up Donald Brown immediately.
The same can be said for Dontrelle Inman. While it’s certainly no lock for him to make the roster, he should. If for nothing other than insurance purposes, he is worth a look. I want Malcom Floyd to dominate this year, but if he misses multiple games for any reason, and Inman is available, expect him to step in. Then, and only then, will Inman’s name likely enter the world of 2014 fantasy football.
If you’re like me and my league, hometown fans tend to pick hometown guys out of love, loyalty, and a hope that they can rub it in some people’s faces at the end. Hopefully, as Charger fans, we all get that opportunity at the end of this season.
It is that time of year again, it’s Fantasy football time! Last year, I ran a 12-team league and the number of people who wanted in was incredible. It was unfortunate, but I had to turn away over 50 people who wanted in on the league.
We are doing it again this year. The only fair way for me to run with this is to do it the same way I did last year. The first people who contact me and are able to paypal the $50.00 buy-in to me, will be included in this elite league. We had a great time last year and I hope the trash talk is even greater this year.
Prior to sending me the money, make sure that I can confirm your place in the league. Despite going into the playoffs in last year’s league in first place, I ended up losing. Some very close friends of mine, Larry and Valerie Karr, won the league.
Here is the breakdown of the winnings:
1st Place: $450.00
2nd Place: $100.00
3rd Place: $50.00
Clearly, this is a fantasy football league that truly believes in rewarding the winner. If you are interested in joining, contact me via these ways: direct message me on Twitter, @BoogaP or private message me on Facebook, Booga Peters. You can also send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will warn you that my email inbox is inundated each day with 300-500 emails each day. You have a much better chance of reaching me via Twitter or Facebook.
So, let the games begin! And just a reminder, I’ll be in the league so you better bring your A-game.
Good luck and I look forward to taking your money.
While at the draft this year, I got to spend time with the three sisters who run the site, Her Fantasy Football. We met Brandon waiting in line to get wristbands for the 2013 draft and a great friendship was born. Brandon and her sisters, Courtney and Ashley created the site to do exactly as it suggests. The site is a place ladies wishing to learn more about fantasy football or just football in particular. The site has performed beyond expectations but the sisters have grander plans in mind now that they have a feel for things with one fantasy year in the books and another fast approaching. This is an interview I recently had with Brandon about all things Her Fantasy Football. You can also find my first interview with her in the BoltBlitz archive. Be sure to visit their website at www.herfantasyfootball.com.
Those who are familiar with our first interview know that you and your sisters are devout Broncos fans. That being said, thoughts on the Super Bowl…
I blacked out. Literally. After that snap went over Manning’s head I don’t remember a thing. I’m sure there’s a psychological name for what I experienced.
It’s always the most surreal moments that make the best stories. Do the Broncos look to have improved in the offseason?
Last season was the inaugural run for your new endeavor, Her Fantasy Football. How did the site fare?
You and your sisters covered every aspect of fantasy football including power rankings, insightful columns, a new podcast and fantasy help to all who inquired, men and women. How was it for you personally and your sisters as a whole? Fun? Stressful?
Is HFF going to be doing fantasy drafts from the site?
You recently mentioned that you attended the New Media Expo. What is it and what did you learn from it?
Has there been anything that’s surprised you since the season ended as it pertains to the combine, draft slotting or free agency?
What team do you think is winning free agency right now?
Give me a few players on your watch list, draftees or current NFL players
I’m a little snobby when it comes to drafting rookies. I only draft rookie RBs in great situations. First year running backs seem to garner big time productions when they are on a team dedicated to utilizing their skill set. Wide receivers need a year or two to figure out the playbook. Rookie QBs are too risky. It’s a playbook issue and a durability issue and until the game slows down I want nothing to do with rookie quarterbacks on my fantasy team. Therefore, I’m mostly interested in Bishop Sankey, Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill and Tre Mason.
As far as the returning studs, Rashad Jennings playing for the Giants gets me all hot and bothered. Watch out for the QB situation in Minnesota because I think Cordarelle Patterson will have a breakout year. I’m a Keenan Allen girl, Bolt Blitz. Don’t you worry. If you don’t get the big three tight ends (Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, Julius Thomas) you should beg, borrow and steal to get Jordan Reed. Nick Foles will be the steal of the draft.
Thank you for interviewing me again. I was very impressed with the Chargers last year and I think they will continue to grow as a team. And more importantly for Her Fantasy Football, the Chargers have some strong players that fantasy players will love. I think I’d stay away from the tight end situation, but unlike last year I will suggest at least drafting Rivers to your fantasy team. I’d also suggest Ryan Mathews. I love how he scorned so many fantasy players before. That just means you can get him as a deal much later than he’s worth!
I’m excited for September.
Thank you Brandon, for taking time from your hectic schedule to do this interview. We look forward to seeing HFF grow and we look forward to seeing and hearing you on the air!
Be sure to follow Brandon and her sisters at Her Fantasy football on Facebook and Twitter!
Her Fantasy Football: @herfantasyfb
Brandon Lee: @BrandonHerFFB
Courtney Kirby: @CourtneyHerFFB
Ashley Williams: @AshleyHerFFB
What’s good, BoltFam and Fantasy Footballers? As promised, this year I am hosting a Fantasy Football league that will be sure to peak your interest.
The buy-in is $50.00 and the accepted form of payment is via PayPal. If you are selected as one of the 12 teams, you will want to know the information listed below.
- Payment must be received by me, via Paypal, within 48 hours of being accepted into the league. No ifs, ands or buts. Only want serious people involved
- The 12 of us will have a night where we will all vote on the rules ( Date of this to be determined shortly after all teams accepted )
- I would prefer to do this league on ESPN.com but if the majority votes against it then so be it
- The draft will be on the night of September 1st
- 3rd Place wins $50.00
- 2nd Place wins $150.00
- 1st Place wins $400.00
- If you are new to Fantasy Football this is probably not the league for you
- May the best team win… and I plan on it
It is that time of year again. This is when people truly start to do their homework for the upcoming Fantasy Football season. I am really hyped and I plan on winning. Here’s how you can let me know you’re interested in joining: send me an email at email@example.com, send me a direct message on Twitter @BoogaP or friend me on Facebook (Booga Peters) and send me a message there.
Thanks a lot for reading and I look forward to kicking all of your asses in this league.
After meeting Adam Rank of NFL.com and NFL Fantasy Live at this year’s NFL draft in New York City, he and I have stayed in touch. We have already done one interview and there is another one coming up in the next week to 10 days.
I am writing this article to provide you with an opportunity to ask you Fantasy Football questions to the NFL.com’s Fantasy Expert league Champion two out of the last three years. That’s right; Adam is really good.
To submit a fantasy football-related question for Adam Rank you can do so by the following:
– Leave a comment at the bottom of this article.
– Send me a tweet on Twitter to @BoogaP or use the hashtag #FFLQsRank.
– Friend me on Facebook and leave a question on my page Booga Peters.
– Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line state FFL question for Adam Rank interview.
Our previous interview lasted a little over an hour. I will do my best to fit in each and every question that is asked if time permits me to do so.
With Fantasy Football drafts already taking place, if you have any tough decisions to make going into your draft be sure to get ahead of the game and submit your questions as soon as possible.
Thanks a lot for reading.
The most exciting parts of the NFL offseason have come and are for the most part, now gone. Free agency has slowed to a crawl and near a dead stop. The draft has come and gone. All coaching and staff hirings and firings are done. Tis the season of minicamps and OTA’s. In a couple of weeks training camps will officially open and teams and players will cocoon themselves from the rest of the world aside from fan day and occasional open practice. So what do hardcore fans like us have to look forward to aside from the start of preseason?
We know, for the most part, who will comprise the rosters of our favorite teams and can start building fantasy strategy accordingly. For the devout Chargers fans, we’ve been witnessing a paradigm shift in the way this team is constructed. New GM Tom Telesco is phasing out the grizzled veterans and replacing them with younger, faster, hopefully stronger players. The blueprint has been easy to read for his offseason signings. Four years experience or less, 27 years old or younger, can play multiple positions. Telesco emphasized adding team speed and the roster is looking more impressive, especially now, after the draft. The question now is:
Are there any Chargers worth drafting?
Citing my 65% success rate in Yahoo leagues (57 trophies since played my first Yahoo league in 2000), The Greg One will be happy to be your fantasy guru for this piece. Let’s start with the easy one. Defense.
In standard Yahoo leagues, defense is drafted as a whole, not individuals. The Chargers defense should DEFINITELY be drafted. The Chargers have a fantastic core group with Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes and Donald Butler. This core really came together at the end of the season as the rooks Ingram and Reyes got even more game time. Letting Cason and Jammer walk is addition by subtraction because there is a better cornerback in newcomer Derek Cox and Shareece Wright will get to fill the other starting corner spot if he passes muster in camp. Marcus Gilchrist is seeing time at strong safety, his natural position in college. Add in All-American college standout Mantei Te’o and cornerback draftee Steven Williams to this mix and the Chargers defense has all the makings of a top five defense in this league. There’s always one defense a year that shocks everybody by posting double-digit points almost every week and the Chargers are that team this year. Draft a big name defense in the middle rounds (Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle, Pittsburgh) the Chargers will still be there in round 10.
Now to where your championships are made: KICKER!
Just kidding. If you’re drafting a kicker anywhere outside of the last two rounds of the draft, accept your place in the bottom of the consolation round now. Now for the offense.
Philip Rivers is definitely a player you want to draft. The beauty of it is that now he is a backup quarterback for fantasy purposes. No one outside of the San Diego is going to draft Rivers as their main quarterback. Well, almost no one. Philip Rivers has been trending downwards in fantasy since the Chargers postseason slide began. Lost in the turnovers, sacks and depleted offensive line is the fact that Rivers has averaged over 4000 yards and 27 touchdowns over the last five seasons.
Last year was Rivers worst in the last five and he still three for over 3600 yards and 26 touchdowns! Each of the last four seasons prior, Rivers had thrown for over 4000 yards. With a new zone blocking scheme on the offensive line being implemented and a rebuilt offensive line Rivers will be fantasy gold. That is IF this new line keeps him clean and Mike McCoy’s new passing attack gets the ball out of his hand quicker.
We all know how accurate Rivers can be when he can just read and throw, not improvise because of an opponent running him down. Is drafting him worth the risk? Consider the fact that he will still be there in round 8 and later. That’s seven top-tier skill positions filled and a 4000 yard quarterback still on the board. Add in the fact that quarterbacks like Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Dalton, Bradford and Andrew Luck will still be on the board to add to compliment Rivers, you can’t go wrong.
Ryan Mathews. You have been warned, DO NOT DRAFT THIS MAN!! Mathews has not succeeded in staying on the field an entire season, his touchdown totals have gone down each season and so has his yardage. Mathews is in a contract year and Telesco will give him one shot to save his career in San Diego. We’ve fell for the Mathews ‘potential’ excuse for three seasons now. Why be fooled a fourth time? Let someone else worry about his collarbones and ankles.
Danny Woodhead. This could be a great pickup in the late rounds. He averaged over 4 yards a rush and 11 yards per reception over his three seasons in New England. Unlike Mathews, Woodhead played every game last season and only missed three games total while in a Patriots uniform. Woodhead will be the new safety valve for Rivers and third down specialist in the McCoy offense. He can line up anywhere on the field as well as on special teams as a returner. Woodhead is worth taking a very late round flyer to fit your flex position or third running back slot.
Antonio Gates. Still worth your vote. Gates ran, cut and shed defenders a lot better as the season progressed and finally looks to be similar to the Gates of old. What he may have lost in speed he has made up for with his football IQ. Gates is still a top-10 tight end in this league and as Rivers’ favorite target, we know when Rivers has time to throw he will get Gates the ball. Gates will still be available around round 6 or 7. Prime time to fill in that slot.
Danario Alexander. Due to the fact that Alexander only played half a season, Alexander won’t be high on anyone’s radar. All the better for us. We in San Diego know of the instant chemistry that was formed when Alexander and Rivers stood on the field together. Alexander had touchdowns in five of the ten games he played and two of those were two touchdown games. Alexander will be a great ‘sleeper’ pick around round 9-11. This way, he’s only a third wide receiver with ability to put up first WR numbers. Also, if he falls off of last year’s production, you didn’t burn a top pick to speculate on a guy who only had half a season in uniform.
The issue with Chargers wide receivers is that Rivers gets the ball to everyone. Philip Rivers will hit the equipment manager if he’s open! Aside from Gates, he chucks the ball around the field playing no favorites. Alexander might become an exception but the Chargers are now absolutely loaded at wide receiver with Alexander, Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, the return of Vincent Brown and rookie Keenan Allen. Add in the backs who all catch the ball out of the backfield like Woodhead, Mathews and Ronnie Brown, Rivers 30 plus touchdowns this season are going into many different pairs of hands. Floyd will be a good WR3 around round 12 and unless they really have amazing preseasons, Brown and Allen will be available AFTER the draft.
So there you have it. To answer the question, no, there are not a lot of Chargers worth drafting and none worth drafting within the first five rounds. That simply means they all fall in the value pick category. Rivers will be the poster boy for value pick if the Telesco plan works half as well as it did in Indianapolis. The Chargers will be invisible to the fantasy world until they start winning and they will be a surprise to everyone but us. Go forth, young drafter and use this knowledge to stack your roster, win leagues and win money. I won’t even ask for a cut, just a shout out that my system worked for you. Take advantage now, before I patent it!
The Greg One