2020 Fantasy Outlook: Chargers
A lot has changed for the Bolt’s offense which has led to much speculation in the fantasy world. Let’s get right to it and dive into the new look Chargers in this fantasy breakdown.
Offseason additions: QB Justin Herbert (R),
RB Joshua Kelley (R), WR Joe Reed (R),
WR K.J. Hill (R), WR/RS Darius Jennings, TE Donald Parham.
Offseason subtractions: QB Phillip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, WR Travis Benjamin, FB Derek Watt,
Quarterback: Veteran QB Tyrod Taylor seems to have the edge on winning the starting job for 2020. It’s been reported that head coach Anthony Lynn is a big fan of Taylor and the Chargers have confidence in the veteran journeyman. A patient approach looks to be the plan for 6th overall pick Justin Herbert. It wouldn’t be wise to draft Taylor or Herbert because whoever gets the starting nod could be on the sideline very quickly. This offense is sure to be less potent than the Rivers led offenses we’ve seen in the past, but game script will most likely dictate a pass first offense and they could put up some big fantasy numbers. We’re looking at streaming options and obviously Herbert in dynasty formats.
Running Back: Austin Ekeler is the Charger to own in 2020. He has the fantasy football world divided and I am all in on team Ekeler. With star RB Melvin Gordon now in Denver, Ekeler will possibly have an increased workload, not that he needs it. Some analysts are campaigning that Ekeler should be avoided in the first two rounds in fantasy drafts since head coach Anthony Lynn said that Ekeler will be the starter in a committee. Committee is usually an ugly word for RBs but for players like Ekeler it’s not necessarily a bad thing. He started only 8 games last season and put up some monster numbers, 132/557/3 on the ground, to go along with 92/993/8 receiving on 108 targets. That’s a total of 1,550 yards on 224 touches and 11 touchdowns. That was good for 4th among RBs in PPR leagues, just 2 points behind Dallas’s stud workhorse Ezekiel Elliott. It was widely believed that the Bolts would bring in a veteran or draft a top RB prospect, but L.A. decided to not shake things up too much and gave Ekeler a four year contract extension early in the offseason. They remain high on RB Justin Jackson but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. They waited until the 4th round to select Joshua Kelley out of UCLA, he fits nicely into their offensive scheme and will compete for playing time but will most likely serve as the 3rd option behind Jackson. It’s hard to predict how this offense will perform without Rivers but it’s safe to say that it will take a step backward. Ekeler probably won’t have as many scoring opportunities but should get close to his numbers from last season. I view him as a low end #RB1. His current ADP is #26, that’s quite a bargain in my opinion. If you draft Ekeler make sure you nab Jackson as well, he will get a good share of carries and most of the goal line work. Kelley is a decent sleeper and handcuff too.
Wide Receiver: With Taylor and/or Herbert replacing long time starter Phillip Rivers it leaves fantasy owners in a precarious situation. Should we play it safe and allow one of our opponents to possibly get a steal? Or should we go about it business as usual with someone like Keenan Allen who with Rivers was as solid as they come? I say let’s meet in the middle. Allen turned in a third straight pro bowl season with a statline of 104/1199/6 good for WR #6 in PPR leagues. His current ADP is #34 which would be quite a bargain if it doesn’t rise significantly. Allen should be a very safe option even if he regresses some. Mike Williams was a disappointment, after boasting a total of 11 TDs in 2018 he only tallied 2 last season. He did break the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his young career but only caught 49 passes on 90 targets. It’s hard to see much value here after the former 7th overall draft pick finished as the WR #41. There is no doubt that he has upside but don’t count on it. Receiver depth is nonexistent from an experience standpoint, it’s a complete mystery who will emerge as the 3rd guy. One of the late round rookies, return specialist Darius Jennings or Andre Patton will have to step into that role.
Tight End: After drawing the franchise tag, TE Hunter Henry will hopefully show he can stay on the field. He is yet to play a full season in his three year career. Henry was a top 10 TE last season across all formats even though he only played 12 games. He posted career highs in targets 76, receptions 55 and yards 652. He had a solid 5 TDs and should remain an above average red zone threat even without Rivers at the helm. The former 35th overall pick’s production could take a hit with a new starting QB but the real problem here is his track record of missing time. A current ADP of #70 is too high in my opinion. If he can stay on the field he’s a lock to be a top 10 TE and has plenty of upside but I wouldn’t recommend spending more than an 8th or 9th round pick on him. The TE group behind Henry is mediocre at best. They still have veteran Virgil Green who rarely sees a pass thrown his way. The next best option would be either, disappointing journeyman Stephen Anderson or 6’8” XFL alumni Donald Parham.
Defense: Finishing 27th in standard scoring with a meager 4.8 PPG pretty much sums it up. There’s some playmakers here but we’re not talking IDP. They did get some notable help this offseason by signing veterans Linval Joseph and Chris Harris Jr. as well as trading up to snag talented LInebacker Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma, but let’s be real, if you’re starting this squad they better have a very tasty matchup.
With a lot still up in the air for the Bolts, Ekeler and Allen are the only sure things here and should continue their incredible production without Rivers. Draft those two with confidence.