WR Keenan Allen | Los Angeles Chargers | 6th Year
2017 Stats: 102 rec., 1,393 yards, 6 TD
For the first time in his career, Keenan Allen played all 16 games in 2017. To be entirely fair, a kidney laceration (2015) and a torn ACL (2016) limited him to a total of nine games over the previous two seasons. The reward fantasy owners who drafted him got was the fifth-most targeted wide receiver in the league and a finish as WR3 in ESPN leagues (default PPR scoring).
Getting a lot of target volume is nothing new for Allen. Over eight games in 2015, before suffering the kidney laceration, he averaged 11.1 targets per game and that compares fairly favorably to last year’s 9.9 targets per game. Over his last 25 games, spanning the last three seasons, Allen has averaged 10.2 targets per game.
Allen started a little slowly last year, averaging 4.9 catches (on 8.9 targets) and 66 yards per game over the first nine games. But over the last seven he totaled 58 receptions for 797 yards and five touchdowns (11.3 targets per game), including four 100-yard games and a historic stretch of three straight games with 10-plus catches, over 100 yards and at least one touchdown from Week 11-Week 13.
With Antonio Gates around, the Chargers had a tight end as a prominent part of the passing game for years. Hunter Henry was in line to take that mantle full-time this year, but a torn ACL in OTAs will sideline him for the season. Barring a return by Gates or a late signing of someone else, that leaves Virgil Green and his career average of just over 10 catches per season as the team’s No. 1 tight end.
To that end, Eric Williams of ESPN.com has suggested the Chargers “will rely more heavily” on Allen this year. That includes the possibility of more time in the slot, and heavier usage on third down and in the red zone.
Allen led all wide receivers in red zone targets (24), targets inside the 10-yard line (15) and targets inside the five-yard line (5; tied for first) last year, but only converted four for touchdowns. He, Gates and Henry accounted for over 75 percent of the Chargers’ red zone targets last year, and while Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams should take some of those looks this year the possibility of any uptick compared to 2017 raises Allen’s fantasy ceiling.
Allen may carry some lingering durability concerns, dating back to his his college career. But the unique severity of the injuries that took him out in 2015 and 2016 has to be noted, and he’s the No. 1 wide receiver for a potent offense.
With a floor of a finish in the top-10 among wide receivers, Allen’s upside is a finish as the top-scoring fantasy wide receiver this year. At a draft price that seems sure to remain just outside of the top five, I’m buying.
Keenan Allen 2018 Projection: 110 receptions, 1,450 yards, 8 TD
Bye: Week 8
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