The San Diego Chargers were a surprise playoff team last season, and they even won a playoff game! Woohoo! And, as a result, San Diego still doesn’t care. Classic San Diego.
It was a surprising turnaround after the team looked lifeless and shitty towards the latter stages of the Norv Turner era, which isn’t particularly shocking considering it was a Norv Turner team. Norv Turner is a terrrrrible head coach, but the Chargers still kept him around for like a decade. #smrt
Philip Rivers was rejuvenated under Mike McCoy last year following a couple of down years in 2011 and 2012. His 11 picks were his fewest in a season since 2009, and he threw 32 TDs and for nearly 5,000 yards. Barring some kind of unforeseen disaster he’s obviously a top-tier QB1 once again.
The running back situation is a little more muddled. Ryan Mathews stayed healthy for the first time ever last year, and set career-highs across the board. But even with a healthy season under his belt, can you really trust him to stay on the field for a second straight season? It’s dicey. The “bell cow” types are a rare breed nowadays, and it’s tough to really believe Mathews is going to be that again.
Little Danny Woodcock is back and still in the thick of things, and actually scored more touchdowns last season than Mathews did (8 to Mathews’ 7). He also caught a whopping 76 passes, which more than doubled his previous career-best. He’s obviously got tremendous PPR value even without getting a ton of carries.
They also signed Donald Brown, for some reason. Brown was clearly the superior back to Trent Richardson in the Colts’ backfield last season, but I was probably also a better running back than Trent Richardson was last season. Like Mathews, Brown is a former first-round draft pick whose career hasn’t amounted to a whole lot as of yet. However, it’s tough to ignore that gaudy 5.3 yards-per-carry total he amassed while appearing in every game for Indy a year ago.
That’s a lot of running backs, and they all seem rather capable. As of now, it seems like Mathews is probably the No. 1 with Woodhead as the third-down/change-of-pace type. Brown may get a few carries here-and-there, but he will only have major value if something happens to Mathews. Which, of course, is pretty likely to happen.
As far as the receivers go, Keenan Allen came out of nowhere last year and established himself as Philip’s favorite target. Rookie WRs typically take a bit of time to acclimate themselves, but Allen burst onto the scene to the tune of 71 catches for 1046 yards and 8 TDs. Those 8 receiving scores tied him with Eddie Royal for the team lead, though Royal’s totals are a bit more skewed. Surely you recall last season when Eddie Royal was the darling of the fantasy world in the early going, as he scored 5 of his touchdowns over the course of the season’s first two games. He never caught more than 4 passes in any game after Week Two, and (obviously) only scored thrice over the season’s final 14 games. In summary, Allen is a stud (WR2 type stud, I’d say), and Royal can probably be had on the waiver wire, if need be.
Let’s not forget about Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown, either. Many expected Brown to emerge as the Chargers’ top pass-catcher after Floyd went down with a season-ending neck injury in the season’s second game, but that didn’t exactly pan out. Brown, a former Aztecs great that missed the entire 2012 season, found the end zone just once all year and didn’t really factor into the Chargers’ attack very often. He’s still quite young, and there’s always the chance he could tap into that considerable potential, but seeing is believing. Until we see it, I’m not quite ready to buy-in.
Floyd is a guy that has always flashed brilliance, but he’s also a guy that has never been able to stay healthy. He’s played in all 16 games just once since entering the NFL back in ’04. He’s also 32 now, so there’s no telling what kind of season he may be in for. Given the way Rivers is able to spread it around, he may be worth a look, but don’t have high expectations here.
The tight end situation here is quite a quandary. Antonio Gates has been a Charger since the ’70s, but everyone seems ready to let him die and replace him with uber-athlete Ladarius Green. Seems kinda silly, considering Gates was another Charger that enjoyed a highly successful 2013 campaign. Gates led San Diego with 77 catches last season, though he scored just four touchdowns on his way to 872 yards. His most productive days are surely in the rearview mirror at this point, but he’s still a contributor that still deserves a spot on your fantasy roster.
Green looked super raw during his appearances last season, though it was evident the potential for greatness is there. He’s a mountain at 6’6″, 240+, and also happens to be a stellar athlete. If you’re drafting for long-term upside, then obviously Green is the guy over Gates. But if you’re looking for the safer option for 2014, it has to still be old-ass ‘Tonio Gates.