As we inch closer to opening day of the NFL season, we want to prepare you for your fantasy football drafts. That process begins with our team previews, where we’ll break down each team’s offense while providing players we’re targeting and, in some cases, avoiding.
Chargers Fantasy Team Preview
Head Coach: Brandon Staley (third season)
Offensive Coordinator: Kellen Moore (first season)
Key Offensive Additions:
Key Offensive Departures:
Key Offensive Rookies:
Points Per Game: 23.0 (13th)
Passing Yards: 269.9 (third)
Rushing Yards: 89.6 (30th)
Vacated Targets: 105 (23rd)
Pass: 68 percent Run: 32 percent
OL Rank: 10th
Justin Herbert had a disappointing 2022, finishing 15th in fantasy points per game with 17.1. Whenever a star player has a down year, it’s essential to look into why.
First, Herbert played through a rib cartilage injury suffered early in the year. In the offseason, he had surgery on a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.
Star LT Rashawn Slater also suffered a significant injury early in the year, costing him the rest of the season. Slater is one of the best offensive tackles in the league and the foundation of the Chargers’ quality offensive line.
Herbert is positioned for significant positive regression in passing touchdowns and yards. Herbert is an MVP contender in a new, more aggressive offense. He’s on the short list of quarterbacks with a real shot of leading the league in yards passing. Given Joe Burrow’s injury uncertainty, Herbert is our QB5 in fantasy drafts.
Austin Ekeler is the only running back to average more than 21 fantasy points per game each of the past two seasons. While he’s most known for his pass-catching, his 38 touchdowns in the past two seasons is 12 more than any other running back.
Last season, injuries to Allen and Williams helped Ekeler lead the team with 127 targets and 107 receptions. He’s been locked into about 200 carries per season, so his fantasy value spikes will come from receptions and touchdowns.
The Chargers still don’t have a threatening RB2, so Ekeler currently projects once again to receive a good chunk of the goal-line work. The Chargers drafted WR Quentin Johnston in Round 1 this year, putting a damper on Ekeler’s chances to repeat his receiving workload from last season.
Ekeler should still be a fantasy RB1, but it’s tough to see him finishing in the top three for fantasy again. He’s a high-floor option due to pass-catching and the Chargers’ high-scoring offense, but the ceiling is lower for him in 2023.
Spiller was taken in Round 4 of the 2022 NFL Draft, and he has an all-purpose skill set but struggled with injuries last season. He has a chance to fight for the backup role, and there’s a chance he could inherit most of the goal-line work.
New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore comes from Dallas, where the Cowboys often deployed a committee approach in the backfield.
Most likely, Kelley or Spiller is a pure handcuff, as neither is as talented as Tony Pollard was in Dallas. This situation will be monitored in the next few weeks. Whoever emerges as the team’s RB2 would have significant upside if Ekeler went down with an injury.
Wide Receivers, Tight Ends
Moore is expected to bring a more dynamic passing game, leading to a resurgence for Allen and Williams as 1,000-yard receivers. Herbert’s arm talent and 5,000-yard passing capability make the two prime targets.
Last season, Allen showed he’s still elite. He averaged 7.5 receptions for 84.4 yards and 0.5 touchdown per game during weeks 10-17. Moore’s past usage of Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb suggests a versatile role for Allen.
Williams will still see most of the deep targets. His expanded slot role in training camp offers a higher floor, which should appeal to fantasy managers, given his draft position.
The third receiver spot battle is between Johnston and Josh Palmer, who have radically different skill sets. Palmer is more refined as a route runner and should see more snaps because of his diverse route tree.
Johnston will be limited to a deep role early and expand as the season progresses. He is a fine player for your bench, but Jordan Vanek wouldn’t expect a big season without an injury to another receiving option.
At tight end, Gerald Everett is likely the top option. With a talented quarterback, a high-volume offense and Moore’s play-calling, Everett is a late-round target for fantasy managers. Moore’s offense allows tight ends to produce fantasy points and sets them up in the red zone.
In summary, the Chargers’ pass-heavy approach makes their pass-catchers attractive for fantasy football. Vanek expects a reduction in Ekeler’s passing game volume due to differences in Moore’s historical passing distribution compared with former play caller Joe Lombardi’s.
Ian Miller: Buy Johnston (WR21)
It’s not that often a strong profile meets a strong situation, but that’s what happened with Johnston. He’s an ‘elite’ first-round prospect joining a high-volume, Herbert-led offense. We could look back and laugh at his WR21 price tag as soon as a year from now.
Chargers We’re Targeting, Avoiding in Fantasy Football
Josh Larky: Target Herbert, Allen, Johnston.
Ryan Reynolds: Target Herbert, Everett.
Jordan Vanek: Target Allen, Williams, Everett.
Follow our Team on Twitter
Josh Larky: @JLarkyTweets
Ryan Reynolds: @RyanReynoldsNFL
Jordan Vanek: @JordanVanekDFS
Ian Miller: @Dynasty_IM