Even as I begin to type this I can still hear the faint laughter of those in my fantasy league after I drafted Keenan Allen in the third round prior to the 2016 season
Of course, I wasn’t completely surprised by their reaction. A lacerated kidney is a freak accident to say the least, but it wasn’t an ACL so I felt pretty good giving him another shot in ’16.
That shot lasted twenty-five minutes and some change into week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
But my, oh, my did he have a heck of a twenty-five minutes.
By the time Allen went down, he had already caught six passes for 63 yards, the majority of them coming against highly-touted cornerback Marcus Peters. Obviously if he carried that production through the rest of the game he would have finished with over a dozen catches and 120+ yards and maybe a touchdown. That would have been as good a beginning to a fantasy football season as an owner could ask from his receiver.
Alas, it just wasn’t in the cards for Allen.
The most heartbreaking part of his injury woes is that he is always on pace to be uber productive that season until Lady Luck yanks the rug out from under him.
To start 2015, Allen bounced back from a disappointing sophomore campaign to hang 15 catches (tying the single-game team record) and 166 yards on the Detroit Lions. By the time he went down against the Ravens in Week 8, Allen was first on the team and third in the NFL in receptions with 67 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns. To put into context how big his target share was, Stevie Johnson was second on the team with 24 receptions for 283 yards. Obviously the target split will be nowhere near this skewed but I do believe it shines a light on just how much Philip Rivers trusts Allen to get the job done.
— ⚡️LA Offseason⚡️ (@ChargersLegion) July 15, 2017
Two years removed from that historical tear, Allen finds himself in one of, if not, the most crowded wide receiver room in the entire NFL.
In Allen’s absence, former UDFA Tyrell Williams burst onto the scene, hauling in 69 catches for 1,059 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. Former CFL standout Dontrelle Inman also carved out a nice niche for himself as he was second on the team with 58 catches for 810 yards and four touchdowns. Add in speedster Travis Benjamin and jump-ball specialist Mike Williams and you have a debacle that anyone but a wide receiver coach wouldn’t want to deal with.
Now, do I believe this should cause fantasy owners to stay away from Allen completely? Not necessarily.
I have had Allen on my team every year since he was a rookie. In fact, he was a big reason I won my league in 2013. (Don’t mind that I also had Eddie Lacy and Le’Veon Bell.) I’m pretty loyal to the players who have served me well in the past so it’s given Allen a bit of leniency. However, two straight years of costing me one of my top picks has led me to be VERY cautious this year. I believe he is going to be one of the most high risk/high reward players this season and I’m a firm believer in the whole “risk it to get the biscuit” mentality.
But the reality of the situation can’t be ignored. Besides the cramped WR group, you still have a three-down running back in Melvin Gordon, a sure-thing Hall of Famer in Antonio Gates, and the heir-apparent to Gates in Hunter Henry. That’s a lot of mouths to feed with only so much to go around.
I do believe Allen will put up WR1 numbers from time to time but I do not expect him to be anywhere near the picture of consistency. A WR2 is my ceiling for him at the moment.
Injuries to ANYONE ELSE this season could lead to his value sky-rocketing so be on the lookout.