The Chargers are going into this season ranked as my 18th best team. I have them winning 8 games this year and finishing 3th in the AFC West and 9th in the AFC. Below is my in-depth breakdown of the team by position, staff, and fantasy worth.
Coaching: C-; I am not the biggest fan of Anthony Lynn. He has a coaching record of 26-22 with the Chargers, and I feel he inherited a very good team. He started with 9-7 and 12-4 campaigns but followed with an abysmal 5-11 season. I will admit, not everything went right last year. The quarterbacking was poor, there was the Melvin Gordon running back holdout, and notable stars were injured, but he could have helped them out more. His offense was 10th in yards and 21st in points. That says a bit on how well coaching helped them. I don’t think he is a bad coach, but if there is anything that holds back the Chargers this year, it will probably be him.
QB: C-; I might like Tyrod Taylor more than some people, but he still isn’t the best quarterback for the Chargers. He was the starting quarterback for the Bills three years ago during their playoff run, but he was benched two thirds through the year for Nathan Peterman. That lack of trust from his former coaching staff worries me a little bit. I don’t think he deserved to be benched, but that is neither here nor there. He doesn’t really push the ball down the field, but he is fairly turnover avoidant, and he might provide stability to this offense. I really don’t like the drafting of Justin Herbert. I feel it was Tua or bust for the Chargers, and they let him slip away. I don’t like his footwork, his decision making, or his inconsistency. He feels like Mitch Trubrisky with a bigger arm and somehow less NFL-readiness. I won’t call a bust before I watch him play, but I don’t like the pick.
RB: B-; Austin Ekeler proved to be a great replacement for Melvin Gordan. He wasn’t the best pure running back, but he was absolutely terrific in the receiving game with 993 yards and 8 touchdowns. In total, he had 1,550 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns. I don’t think he is a team carrier, but he works well in the Chargers system. I’m not a fan of the depth at the running back position as the second best option is Justin Jackson. If you haven’t heard of him, he was drafted in the 7th round two years ago and has only seen 79 total rushing attempts. I don’t know much about him due to the low sample size, but as of now, he is a below average replacement.
WR: B+; The two starters in this wide receiving core more than make up for the lack of depth behind it. Keenan Allen is easily a top 10 receiver. Don’t debate that he is not. Mike Williams could easily emerge as a deadly weapon also. He has shown flashes of his potential, and he really produced last year. He managed to break 1,000 yards as a number 2 in 15 games. He didn’t score often, but he could really push the ball downfield. I think he could have another breakout this year. After those two, it really goes downhill. The next guy up would be Andre Patton. I shouldn’t have to explain how that could be an issue.
TE: B-; On paper, Hunter Henry is not a terrific tight end. He only put up 652 yards and 5 touchdowns in the 12 games that he played last year. Don’t confuse him for a poor player, though. He was coming off of two straight injuries. He hasn’t been able to play to his fullest. When he is at his healthiest he is a monster and a top 10 tight end. Next to him; Virgil Green has seen a lot of regression over the years. Last season he couldn’t break 80 yards receiving even when he started 4 games and played in 15. I don’t love the tight end group (especially with Hunter’s injury history), so the most I can give it is a B-.
O-line: D-; This is definitely a bottom-tier offensive line. It isn’t horrible as the additions of Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga were solid. Other than them, Sam Tevi, Dan Freeney and Maurice Pouncey’s worse brother, Mike Pouncey are not ideal starters.
D-line: A; This defensive line is very underrated. Defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III are deadly on the outside. Justin Jones and Linval Joseph lock up the interior. Really a great group. They also have some solid depth with guys like Isaac Rochell and Damion Square beneath them.
LB: C+; I really like the pick of Kenneth Murray. He should be a good fit and a terrific player. Denzel Perriman is slightly underrated. I don’t really like Drue Tranquil on the outside, however. Overall, the group has a lack of experience and skill. I like the potential, but it is not there yet.
DB: A; This secondary will be ferocious assuming Derwin James stays healthy. I love the steal of Chris Harris in free agency as it gives them a great starting corner and removes one from a rival. Casey Hayward Jr is an elite corner on the other side that receivers should not cross. Overall it is really good.
Overall: B+; Overall, this roster is incredible. It is absolutely teeming with skill. The problem is there are too many questions and holes on the team. I don’t feel I know the coach well enough, I don’t feel I know the quarterback well enough, I don’t even know who will be starting at quarterback late in the season, and I really don’t like the offensive line as a whole. I love the defense. I think it is one of the best in the league. I just think they are lacking in the 3 most important areas (head coach, quarterback, and offensive line). They could make a splash, but it feels unlikely with how hard of a division they are up against. They do have a few scheduling breaks, so it isn’t off the table.
Fantasy Value: I like Tyrod Taylor as a fantasy sleeper. This offense feels *taylored* to him. I’m sorry, I just had to say it. He has had struggles recently, but a bounce-back is not off the table. Keenan Allen usually puts up good fantasy numbers, and I expect a slightly better year from him. I could also see Ekeler putting up better stats being the new focal point of the backfield. Finally, Mike Williams is one of my sleeper wideouts. I really have liked his progression towards being a very above average number two. I wouldn’t draft Henry due to inconsistent play in the receiving game. The Chargers defense could swipe under the radar this year. They play a decent amount of bad offenses and quarterbacks. They could be top 3 this year in fantasy production.