The hope for the Chargers this season: try not to get every skill-position player hurt!
Last season became a MASH unit for the Chargers. There were wide receivers on the field I doubt Philip Rivers even knew. Dontrelle Inman was the best receiver on the active roster by week 17. That's an issue for fantasy production. Fingers crossed for this season.
The last time Ken Whisenhunt was the Offensive Coordinator of the Chargers great things happened for Rivers (nearly 4500 yards) and Danny Woodhead (over 1000 yards, combined). Whisenhunt is back in San Deigo, so expect good things from Rivers, Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon, Antonio Gates, and, of course, Woodhead.
Philip Rivers (QB) – 4600 yards, 30 TDs, 13 INTs.
Rivers is one of the low-end QB1/streaming options I like the most. He typically starts off well and fades by the end of the season. Last year, it was to be expected because he lost all of his weapons, but I expect the reunion with Whisenhunt to be great for Rivers, who should end in the QB1 range. He's currently being drafted at 100 as the 11th QB off the board, and that value is about right. If you’re able to match him with another low-end QB1, you will be able to stream quarterbacks and play the matchups. That’s not a bad strategy, especially in deeper leagues.
Melvin Gordon (RB) – 1000 yards, 5 TDs, 40 catches, 250 yards.
For a running back that is going to get most, if not all, of the first- and second-down work, Gordon is being drafted at a good value. Back to the Whisenhunt point, the last running back that was paired with Woodhead in this system had 1200 yards rushing. Gordon will have the benefit of having a half competent offensive line provided they don’t all die like they did last season. Gordon also catches the ball a little better than you might think. Last season, he had 33 catches on 37 targets. Gordon is the 29th RB off the board and is a steal at the spot. Draft Gordon as your RB3 after the 6th round, and you’re on your way to winning your league.
Keenan Allen (WR) – 100 catches, 1200 yards, 8 TDs.
If you want Allen, you have to take him pretty early in most drafts. I don’t have him on my team in any redraft leagues, yet, but I do have him on a few dynasty teams and I'm happy to own him. I had some serious Keenan Allen hate last season that was unfounded, obviously. He is going to at least catch 100 balls, if healthy. If you’re in a PPR (point per reception) league, draft him early and don’t look back. If you’re in a standard league, try to wait until the late 3rd or 4th round to take him. If you don’t get him in a standard, you’re not missing out as much as you might think. He’s the 15th WR off the board and should be in that range at the end of the season. He could be higher if he stays healthy all season, but that’s always a concern with Keenan Allen.
Antonio Gates (TE) – 60 catches, 650 yards, 5 TDs.
At this point in his career, Gates is in the low-end TE1/streamer range. Gates is going to have a few touchdowns, but he will be hurt at some point in the season. Gates isn’t exciting anymore, but if you plug and play him, you’ll be happy some weeks and disappointed others. He’s now the prototypical touchdown-dependent tight end.
Sleeper - Danny Woodhead (RB).
Woodhead is always criminally under-drafted. He should catch close to 80 balls and should have close to 1000 combined yards. Something else Woodhead does is score touchdowns. Woodhead had 9 TDs last season and 8 in his last healthy season before that. If you need a good running back late in the draft, draft Woodhead, especially in PPR leagues.
Bust - Travis Benjamin (WR).
The Chargers signing of Benjamin was one of my favorite moves in the off-season from a pure football perspective. He’s a guy that can get down field and blow the top off of any defense. Benjamin is going to open up the middle of the field, which is where Allen, Gates, and Woodhead all operate. Benjamin won’t match last season’s numbers, but will make the players around him better.
The Chargers were hardly a fantasy supernova last season, but they could be this season. Draft them late and get early production.