The San Diego Chargers…sorry. This is going to take a couple years. Ahem.
The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t have a great 2017 season. They got off to a rough start. The best thing to come out of their first four games was more GIF material thanks to quarterback Phillip Rivers’s facial expressions. I’d like to personally thank Phil for providing me the perfect material to send to co-workers when I’m annoyed, frustrated, or let down by other’s performance or messed up situations.
Going 0-4, with a less than packed stadium, was not exactly the start the franchise was looking for upon relocation. There may have been a little solace in the fact that three of those games came down to a field goal or less, but a loss is a loss is a loss. The Chargers got their stuff together eventually, but it was too little too late as far as the playoffs were concerned. They wrapped the season at 9-7, but their divisional record kept them home watching other teams from the AFC play in their place in December.
So why, pray tell, have NFL experts and our own Nick Busch been so bearish on the Chargers for 2018? Simply put, they are a better team than their last season record would leave you to believe. The team won the 6 of their 7 last games. Veteran QB Rivers had a particularly strong campaign for fantasy, tying Tom Brady and Russ Wilson for percentage of top 12 finishes at the position. The have a strong o-line that projects to improve in 2018. Vegas loves them for the division and, as evidenced by Nick, they are on more than a few prediction lists for the Super Bowl.
Philip Rivers enters his 14th NFL season as the 12th QB getting taken off the board with an ADP in the 120’s. In a world where the top quarterbacks get taken off the board IN THE THIRD ROUND this simply should not be possible. We already mentioned his consistency last season sharing the most consistent QB1 honors with Brady and Wilson who are going in the 6th and 5th rounds respectively. Rivers is a fantastic late round QB option and, just like Big Ben, he’s a perfect example why you need to wait on quarterback. Odds are Melvin Gordon gets more involved in the pass game but we would have rather seen the targets going to a health Hunter Henry from a scoring standpoint for Rivers.
You might remember Austin Ekeler, the change of pace back who was starting to hit his stride before breaking his hand late in the season. Fine, but are familiar with Justin Jackson or Russell Hansbrough? Yeah, we thought so.
Melvin Gordon is going to be the only show in town for the Chargers, making him worth his late first round draft day price tag. Gordon has paid off big for his fantasy owners in each of the last two seasons, finishing as a top 6 back in PPR leagues. He is a volume monster and gets top 5 level touches per game while staying on the field for the vast majority of the teams offensive plays. Gordon is a back with no real competition at his position, making him a trust worthy option and a good example of avoiding risk in the first round.
Ekeler will again serve as a change of pace back and probably get some 3rd down work, but doesn’t present a challenge to Gordon anywhere near the level of making this a timeshare situation. The other RB’s on the squad are purely depth plays barring injury.
So…how about that Keenan Allen? Allen finally played his first full season in his entire career in 2017. More impressively, he caught 100 balls and ended the year as the WR3. They crazy thing about this is he only scored 6 touchdowns! That’s a number we expect Allen to improve upon in the upcoming campaign. Players need to remember that the first half of the season last year was fairly mediocre, but the Chargers figured out what to do with Allen and defenses had a very hard time covering him through the back half. Impressive stuff. With a price tag in the first half of round two we say go grab Keenan Allen.
Mike Williams was a top pick in last year’s NFL draft but he never had the chance to pay off for the team due to a back injury. Williams is healthy for his sophomore debut and will almost assuredly be much more involved. Williams is also probably going to get more looks in the red zone, when involved, due to Hunter Henry’s absence.
The same can be said of Tyrell Williams, probably more so than Mike. Tyrell had a solid 2016 season filling an expanded role with Keenan Allen was injured. Unless you owned him that year you probably don’t realize that he finished as a top end WR2. Also like Mike, he was a top First Round NFL draft pick, and in his third year in the league, it’s a fair bet that the Chargers will be looking to get him involved as it relates to their future plans.
We expect this ball to stay fully in Allen’s court, with this wide receiver corps brothers looked at WR4 type numbers.
Well, it’s officially the worst kept secret in the NFL that Antonio Gates will resign with the team and continue his hall of fame career. Not many site's get that kind of inside information straight from Gate's supposed agent at the gym (see episode 3 of the podcast for me details!) Until that’s official, the lead Tight End in this offense is former Bronco Virgil Green. Green has never been a standout TE, and he’s never scored more than two touchdowns in a single season. Unless Gates is brought back from retirement as expected, you’d be best to avoid the position with this team.
Phillip Rivers in a great late round QB and exactly the type of player we target when waiting on the position.
Melvin Gordon is consistent producer and his inefficient YPC should scare you away
Keenan Allen is a wider receiver you want on your team.