San Diego Chargers
|By Jeb Gorham, Saturday, October 5, 2013|
The Chargers imploded last season with a 7-9 record, leading to a coaching change. San Diego canned longtime head coach Norv Turner and went with Mike McCoy, who brings his offensive game plan from Denver. Though the new guy brings solid coaching credentials, what the Chargers really need is a personnel overhaul, especially offensively. If Philip Rivers is to find his previous top-10 fantasy form, he'll need a revitalized Antonio Gates, an assertive (and healthy) Ryan Mathews and legitimate help from his wide receivers corps. Actually, the offensive line stands as San Diego's biggest concern, which is why first round D.J. Fluker should enter the lineup quickly at offensive tackle. Fellow rookie ILB Manti Te'o and pass rusher Dwight Freeney join a defensive unit that finished ninth overall last season. Don't expect any bolt sightings in the postseason.
Update 8/23/13 - Running back situation Woodhead vs. Mathews
San Diego's preseason was a mess. The protection schemes were so far off that a new strategy needs to be developed and implemented immediately or else Philip Rivers will spend more time on his back this season than standing. In terms of the running game, Ryan Mathews has looked good. However, many still believe his durability and the short passing game will also force the team to feature Danny Woodhead. With his current ADP, Woodhead is worth a look. His keeper league value is $0 and a steal. The wideout corps looks to feature Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen. Allen might move up on your draft radar, but if you need big yardage for points stay away.
Update 9/12/13 - San Diego lost their match-up, but looked better than anticipated in Week 1.
This week's match-up is not appealing considering the way we saw Philadelphia storm out of the gates last week during their season opener. Ronnie Brown surprised most fantasy owners with his workload that surpassed Danny Woodhead and Eddie Royal was the bright spot in terms of receiving. Keenan Allen, who was solid in the preseason, did not even see a target. Allen should still be on the fanatsy radar in very deep leagues, but might fall from this position soon if he does not get into the action. For me, Ronnie Brown is the one to watch - he might not be over the hill as many thought prior to Week 1.
Update 10/5/13 - check out Ben and Scott's Strategy Session article this week - Danny Woodhead featured - http://www.fftoolbox.com/football/article.cfm?article_id=1637
QB Philip Rivers - Quality Backup
Rivers is a solid QB pick for your draft. His 3,600 yard plus season in 2012 was 1,000 yards shy of his 2011 mark, but he threw about the same number of TDs and less INTs. Rivers has weapons at his disposal, but the team needs to get in sync to be effective. Hopefully Mike McCoy's leadership can add a spark. I think Rivers should boost his yardage numbers this season and throw his consistent 25-28TDs.
QB Charlie Whitehurst - Not Draft Worthy
Charlie Whitehurst will be the guy to play if Rivers gets injured. He is not draft worthy in fantasy formats.
RB Ryan Mathews - Solid/Safe Pick
In my opinion, Mathews is a stud running back, but he falls signifcantly down the draft sheets this season. At this point he should be considered a solid'safe pick at RB. He might not have had the expected output last season, but I think he will be ready to go this year. His ability to catch the ball as well as run adds to his value. The addition of Danny Woodhead to the running back mix should be interesting, but not severely cut into Mathews' workload. Mathews is the starter here and he should show increased fantasy performance in 2013.
Update 8/23/13 - Mathews has looked good in preseason and continues to be a safe RB pick. His value has slid down most drafts and you might grab him as a steal. He still has to work with Danny Woodhead sharing some of the load. We will have to see how much.
RB Danny Woodhead - Sleeper (undervalued)
Woodhead is an interesting addition to San Diego's rushing core. Mathews will take the lead, but Woodhead, Brown and McClain can all change pace and add value to this running game. Woodhead should be categorized as a sleeper considering his new team and undefined role. I think he has great potential to perform in this scenario, so keep your eyes on him in your draft. You might be able to steal him.
Update 8/23/13 - Woodhead could be a draft day steal or a great keeper wonder this season. His ADP keeps him eligible later in drafts and if you have him in a keeper league, his value of $0 is wonderful. Woodhead looks to be the beneficiary of a short-focused passing game. His PPR value could be solid.
RB Le'Ron McClain - Not Draft Worthy
Personally, I do not think McClain is draft worthy. He might see more action than Brown, but he is not going to push Woodhead out of the second back position. McClain is a fullback and will be used to block for Mathews and Woodhead. He will have little to no fantasy value.
RB Ronnie Brown - Over the Hill (decreased production)
Ronnie Brown is past his prime. He does show a spark of the past every now and again, but he is not a guy to draft too early or in my opinion at all. I think Danny Woodhead will be the change of pace back this season and that leaves Brown out in the cold. He might get some carries here and there.
WR Vincent Brown - Sleeper (undervalued)
Update (8/7): Already an intriguing fantasy option, Brown is now thrust into the spotlight following Danario Alexander's season-ending knee injury. Of course, the former third round pick's own issues with bumps and bruises has kept him off the field previously (including all of last season). On the very day of Alexander's injury, the 5-foot-11 target returned to practice after missing multiple sessions with a hamstring injury. Considering all the other uncertain options, Brown's route-running prowess makes him the best hope and potential WR3 - if he can stay healthy.
Brown is a super sleeper. We have not seen him on the field in a while given his severely broken ankle that kept him sidelined all of 2012. San Diego's training staff is keeping Brown's return to action slow paced, but it appears he will be ready for action as camp comes. Reports state that Brown will compete for wideout two-three positions with Meachem, Floyd and Keenan Allen. I like Brown's speed and think he has a shot at the number three wideout position. He could be productive fantasy-wise if provided the right opportunities.
Update 8/23/13 - Brown remains a sleeper, but he and Keenan Allen are going to see much of the action in the SD passing game. The value here depends on whether or not the SD offensive line can protect Philip Rivers and allow him time to effective pass the ball.
WR Malcom Floyd - Bye Week Fill-in
Update (8-7): Rather than battle Vincent Brown for a starting job, Floyd now likely inherits one after Danario Alexander's season-ending injury. The imposing 6-foot-5 target has caught at least five touchdowns in three straight seasons, but the 31-year-old has never even had one 900-yard season. Owners could do worse if we're talking about a pure depth pick, but don't get excited just because he's now in the starting lineup.
Floyd is a sleeper in my book. He has up and down games and has some younger competition this year. Floyd has a solid relationship with Rivers so that means something, but he might find himself competing with Brown, Allen and Meachem for significant playing time. Floyd is a guy you can likely count on for 3-4 receptions per game, but his yardage can be moderate and his TDs are sporadic. You might be able to get Floyd in your draft for a steal if things go right.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
WR Keenan Allen - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Update (8-7): Like everyone else in San Diego's wide receiver corps, Allen moves up the depth chart following Danario Alexander's season-ending knee injury. Unlike most of the other members of San Diego's wide receiver corps, this one should interest fantasy owners. After looking like a potential first round pick following a monster junior season at Cal, Allen slid into round three because of knee concerns. Though participating in camp, the 6-foot-3 target hasn't turned many heads yet according to reports, but unlike say Robert Meachem, there is hope for more. Probably not draftable in 12-team leagues, but certainly one to watch.
Keenan Allen slides into the number four reciever slot in San Diego according to most reports. This makes him a sleeper pick for most fantasy owners. It will be interesting to see how Allen is drafted in the mocks before we get to the real deal.
Update 8/23/13 - Allen will be on fantasy owners' radar in larger leagues for sure. He is not likely draftable in 10-team formats, but might be worth a very late round pick in 12-team formats. It appears Vincent Brown and Allen are going to be the primary passing targets at this stage. Malcolm Floyd plays the long ball game and this new offense is focusing on the short passing game and other schemes to keep games on their pace.
WR Eddie Royal - Solid/Safe Pick
Eddie Royal was off the fantasy radar until Week 1 when he scored two TDS on a few targets. Then he continued to impress in Week 2 with 7 grabs for 80 yards and 3 TDs. He finally fell back to earth in Week 3 with a mere 2 receptions for 34 yards, but Royal is likely to become a solid/safe pick inside the top 36 receivers as the season progresses and given his chemistry with Philip Rivers.
TE Antonio Gates - Gamble (high risk)
Gates was mostly a bust last season and it is hard to call him over the hill, so I will call him a gamble. His fantasy value took a big hit last season and those of us who kept starting him and waiting were just disappointed time and time again. I think there are some talented young TEs out there with QBs who have firepower. Take a look around before grabbing Gates too early this draft day.
TE Ladarius Green - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
I do not think Green is draft worthy as Gates will see the playing time, but you have to think that if Gates is unproductive that San Diego might give Green a shot. Watch him on the waivers if he gets playing time.
Update 8/16: Green has flashed well in the preseason. Look for his opportunities to expand in the preseason. They want to get a good look at the kid, just in case something happens to Antonio Gates.
PK Nick Novak - Solid/Safe Pick
Novak's 90% field goals made was great last season, but his shear number of kicks was down dramatically from 2011. Novak should be a safe pick in your last draft round.
San Diego Defense - Gamble (high risk)
I think San Diego's defense is a gamble. They fell well down the list of defensive units. I do not think the addition of Dwight Freeney will do much good. His production has been declining and this defense needs new blood, not old. I would pass on this option.