2016 Fantasy Recap
The Chargers had a very emotional year last year. With five games to go they were 5 – 6 and finished the year 5 – 11. Ten of their loses came by less than one position. Which means they were in every game last year and easily could have had a much better record. Philip Rivers had a typical year for him, which was good considering he lost his top wide receiver before the first game was even over. Melvin Gordon showed why he was taken in the first round of 2015. No wide receiver brought better than a flex value. At tight end Antonio Gates barely hung on to TE1 status and their was a glimmer of hope for the future from the play of Hunter Henry. Outside of Gordon the Chargers only really offered a bunch of serviceable players. Plenty of options for flex plays or bye weeks starters.
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Key Additions and Losses
Quarterback Fantasy Outlook
Outside of interceptions, which Rivers had 21 of, he was pretty par for the course in his production last year. Despite the interception and lack of quality receivers Rivers still managed to finish as a high QB2 last year. I expect nothing less this year. With everyone going into camp healthy, and if they can manage to stay that way, I think Rivers can reach 4,600 yards, mid to high 30’s for touchdowns and he should bring those interceptions back down to the low teens range. He has an emerging running attack, a deeper and more experienced wide receiver stable, and two solid tight ends at his disposal. With all of the tools, many of those one score losses might become one score wins. At Rivers current APD of right around the 10th round if you are in the 10th with no quarterback I would grab him. If you QB1 is in the lower half, I would consider Rivers as well because he has potential to finish as a low QB1 himself.
Running Back Fantasy Outlook
Hi, Melvin Gordon, it was nice to finally meet you. After a hugely disappointing year Gordon delivered in his second year with 254/997/10 in basically 12 games. I know the yards per carry are a little off-putting, but the Chargers are committed to using him as a work horse. Some improvements to the offensive line should help Gordon get the yards per carry over four. Despite missing four games Gordon still managed to finish as a mid RB1 last year. My biggest concern with Gordon going into this year is the touchdown total. I still think he can hit ten touchdowns, but I think it will take all 16 games, not 12, to get there this year. I can see a slash line of 290/1150/10, throw in another 40 receptions for 350 yards and you have the makings of a running back to make a push for the top five. Right now Gordon is getting drafted late first round and that is right where I think he e. If you have your pick between 9 and 12 and Gordon is there I would be taking him for sure.
Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook
Two questions everyone asks about the Chargers receivers, will Keenan Allen play a full season and if he does will he still be Rivers favorite target? My answer to both is usually yes. In the last two years Allen’s season were cut short by a lacerated kidney in 2015 and torn ACL in 2016. Those are big injuries not oh my foot hurts I can’t play this week. Reports are that he is fully recovered from both injuries and ready to start the season. Because no receiver stepped up and dominated in his absence I think he starts the year as the number one and as long as he is on the field he will stay that way. I am not expecting him to return to his 2015 numbers before his injury, but I do expect him to lead the team in targets and yards. Currently going early thrid round is too risky for me, but for those bold enough they could be greatly rewarded. After Allen the only other receiver I am targeting would be Mike Williams. Entering the draft I thought he was the most NFL-ready, I still think that but considering all of the weapons on the team he was drafted I can’t ignore that he might be fourth or fifth in the pecking order and that hurts. I do think he will have a fair amount of touchdowns increasing his value, but I see way more value in dynasty than I do in redraft. If he is there in the 12th round I might take him and see what happens. Other receivers the Chargers have are Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, and Travis Benjamin. All three are experienced and will be used, but unless an injury to Allen or Mike Williams happens I am not sure any will have consistent value.
Tight End Fantasy Outlook
How much does Antonio Gates have left in the tank. It was widely known that Gates wanted to be the all-time leader in touchdowns by tight ends. He needed eight to do that, and he got seven. It was not the Gates we were used to last year but he still managed 53/543/7 which was good enough to be a low TE1. I am not sure he comes close to those numbers this year. What he will do is steal just enough work to make Hunter Henry a frustrating play in 2017. Henry who had a solid year as a TE2 posted 36/478/8. As long as Gates is on the field Henry is no better than a low TE2 and Gates will be a low TE2 at best as well this year. If Gates retires or gets injured early enough in the season I think Henry can make a push for low TE1, but as long as both are playing they will hurt each others value. Both guys are going in double digit rounds.
Defensive Fantasy Outlook
The Chargers defense was up and down last year. This finished first in interceptions and touchdowns but gave up a ton of points and yards. So basically everything they did good was washed out with everything they did bad. To make matters worse the Chargers did not really do too much to make them any better on defense. They lost some guys and did nothing to replace them. I do not expect them to be any better on defense, in fact, they might even be worse. I am not drafting them or likely to even use them on bye weeks.
Michael Kelley is a member of the Going For 2 team. You can check out his website Dynasty League Problems for more writings or find him on Twitter @mikekelleydlp spreading fantasy knowledge for the masses.