2020 Fantasy Previews Part 18: Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers were one of the worst teams in the NFL. They finished 5-11 with three 3 game losing streaks. The Chargers had the worst turnover margin in the NFL at -17. They gave the ball away 31 times and only took the ball away from their opponent 14 times. The Chargers had one of the better defenses in the league as they had the 6th best total defense, 5th best pass defense, 18th best rush defense, and the 14th best scoring defense. In the first round of the NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers picked Justin Herbert, a quarterback from Oregon and Kenneth Murray, a linebacker from Oklahoma. The latter will help a lot with the rushing defense and should make an immediate impact. Justin Herbert might have wait until later in the year to play. The Chargers got rid of Philip Rivers in free agency, which will give the starting gig to Tyrod Taylor. He should open the season as the starter because of a shortened camp and he should play until he gets injured or benched for Justin Herbert. Whoever the quarterback is will have some underrated weapons to give the ball to in Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams. The Chargers should be improved this year if they can improve their turnover margin.

Projected depth chart:

Quarterback: 1. Tyrod Taylor 2. Justin Herbert

Running back: 1. Austin Ekeler 2. Justin Jackson

Wide receiver: 1. Keenan Allen 2. Mike Williams 3. Andre Patton 4. K.J Hill

Slot receiver: 1. Joe Reed 2. Darius Jennings

Tight end: 1. Hunter Henry 2. Donald Parham Jr.

Quarterbacks - Philip Rivers was not very good last year as the starting quarterback for the Chargers. He passed for 4615 yards on 66% completion, 23 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions. Rivers was 28th in the NFL with 2.2 interceptable passes per game. He finished as the QB18 with 235.5 fantasy points. Rivers had 9 games with under 15 fantasy points. and only 4 games over 20.

Rivers left in free agency, giving the starting job to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor played for Anthony Lynn in Buffalo. When they were in Buffalo together, he averaged 18.67 points per game in 29 games. In 2015, Tyrod finished as the QB14 and in 2016, he finished as the QB9. Under Anthony Lynn, he was a solid starting quarterback for fantasy. He was very consistent as he only had 7 out of his 29 games with under 15 fantasy points.

The Chargers drafted Justin Herbert with the 6th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft Herbert will likely have to wait to be the starting quarterback with the virtual offseason program. Tyrod Taylor will be the starting quarterback at the start of the year and Herbert will use this season to learn the system and develop. You can get Tyrod Taylor for free in most leagues as he is the QB34 on ESPN. He is a deep sleeper you should keep an eye on this year.

Running backs - Melvin Gordon was supposed to be the starting running back in Los Angeles last year. He decided to be greedy and hold out for a new contract. He came back in Week 5 and was gradually added to the offense. Gordon finished the season with 162 carries for 612 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground and 42 receptions for 296 yards and 1 touchdown through the air. Gordon had a little bit of a fumbling issue as he coughed up the ball 4 times and lost 3 of those. Gordon finished as the RB23 and would've been the RB12 if he played the whole season.

The breakout star of the Los Angeles Chargers last year was Austin Ekeler. Last year, Ekeler was going around the 6th round and I made it my mission to own him in every single league I played. He only started in 8 games last year and scored 304 fantasy points. He had 132 carries for 557 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground and 92 receptions for 993 yards and 8 touchdowns through the air. Ekeler finished as the RB4 and only scored under 10 points once.

Austin Ekeler is in my top 10 running backs for the 2020 season. I think he'll regress a bit from last year with the addition of Joshua Kelley from UCLA. Kelley will come in and compete with Justin Jackson to take the short-yardage situations. Austin Ekeler is going around the middle of the second round and I think that is perfect value for him. He could bust this year if he doesn't receive enough volume, but his floor should be at least 200 points. Joshua Kelley is a great handcuff and you might even get a couple of good games from him even when Ekeler is there because he gets a couple of touchdowns. Justin Jackson is too injury prone to be considered fantasy relevant.

Wide receivers - Keenan Allen used to be considered injury-prone. In his first four seasons, he only played in 38 of the 64 possible regular-season games he could've played in. That is only about 60% of possible games. Keenan Allen is not injury prone anymore. He has played in all 16 games in the last three seasons. Not only that, but he has been consistent while he's been doing it. He has over 260 fantasy points in all three of those seasons.

In 2019, Keenan Allen caught 104 passes for 1199 yards and 6 touchdowns. He finished as the WR6 and had 261.5 fantasy points. Allen also finished with 10 games with double-digit targets. The other fantasy-relevant receiver on this team was Mike Williams. He caught 49 passes for 1001 yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams finished as the WR40 and was very inconsistent. He had 8 of his 16 games where he finished with under 10 points and the most points he scored in a game was 17.1.

Keenan Allen is going around the 4th round and that is way too low for the WR1 who is getting an upgrade at quarterback while remaining in the same offense. Allen is someone that I would feel comfortable with as my WR1 if I take 3 running backs first.

Williams is going around the 11 round and I think that is where he should be picked. He has a low ceiling and a decent amount of bust games. I deep sleeper I am looking at is 5th round pick, Joe Reed. He is so far down the rankings, you can get him for free in almost any league. Reed will be the starting slot receiver right away and will be given every opportunity to keep that job.

Tight ends - Anthony Lynn has always had a solid tight end, but they usually aren't on most fantasy teams. Charles Clay was the TE16 in 2016 on Buffalo, Hunter Henry was the TE14 in 2017 on the Chargers, Antonio Gates was the TE28 in 2018 on the Chargers, and Hunter Henry was the TE9 last year on the Chargers. Injuries have always been an issue for Henry as he has only played in only 41 games over the last 4 seasons.

Henry only played in 12 games in 2019, but still finished as the TE9. He caught 55 passes for 652 yards and 5 touchdowns. Henry scored 150.2 fantasy points and would've been the TE6 if he played the whole season. Henry was targeted often as he had 6 or more targets in 8 of his 12 games. He averaged 6.3 targets per game.

Hunter Henry is being drafted in the 8th round and he is a player that I am not targeting. ESPN is weird and likes to put all of the positions in clumps in the later rounds. Henry is in a clump with Evan Engram, Tyler Higbee, and Gronk in the 8th round. I would much rather have a Tyler Higbee over Hunter Henry because of his injury history and questionable durability.

Fantasy analysis:

Star: Austin Ekeler

Sleeper: Keenan Allen

Deep sleepers: Joshua Kelley, Joe Reed, Tyrod Taylor

Good value: Mike Williams

Handcuffs: Justin Herbert, Joshua Kelley, K.J. Hill, Donald Parham Jr.

I'm not targeting: Hunter Henry (injuries), everyone else

I hoper you liked 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 18: Los Angeles Chargers. Next up is 2020 Fantasy Previews Part 19: Los Angeles Rams. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the Chargers' offense for fantasy 2020.

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