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Los Angeles Chargers Fantasy Football Preview

Austin Ekeler has been amazing over the past several years, but could his production decrease a bit in 2021?

By Craig Forrestal

It is a new look Chargers team to an extent. The team has moved on from long-time franchise QB Philip Rivers and also did not bring back Melvin Gordon to go along with a few other moves. However, the Chargers added a couple of OL with Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner. The defense brought in Linval Joseph and Chris Harris Jr. Some of the more pressing items for the Chargers are at the QB position. Will the team go young and start rookie Justin Herbert or start Tyrod Taylor to get the veteran experience in there? Also, regardless of the QB how will it impact players like Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry?

Schedule:

  • Week 1: @ Bengals
  • Week 2: Chiefs
  • Week 3: Panthers
  • Week 4: @ Buccaneers
  • Week 5: @ Saints
  • Week 6: Jets
  • Week 7: @ Dolphins
  • Week 8: Jaguars
  • Week 9: Raiders
  • Week 10: Bye
  • Week 11: @ Broncos
  • Week 12: @ Bills
  • Week 13: Patriots
  • Week 14: Falcons
  • Week 15: @ Raiders
  • Week 16: Broncos
  • Week 17: @ Chiefs

Players To Know:

  • Tyrod Taylor-QB: Tyrod is going to start the season for the Chargers. He scrambles a lot and gets sacked a lot which means Justin Herbert could make an appearance at some point. However, I feel Tyrod is the perfect bridge-year QB for the Chargers. He offers more real-life appeal compared to fantasy value. His added dimension of running is nice but he is not Mike Vick or Lamar Jackson. If you are someone that carries 2 QBs then I guess he could make sense on your bench and you can play him on the bye week or based on matchup. I expect him to finish somewhere between QB 15-20 if he plays the whole season.
  • Justin Herbert-QB: Herbert shouldn’t be expected to do or produce much in his rookie season.
  • Austin Ekeler-RB: Ekeler could take a hit this season for a few reasons. The first reason being the Chargers will throw the ball less than they did with Rivers at QB. Also, Taylor and Herbert can both move and mobile QBs tend to not target the RB as much. I still think Ekeler will function as a Top 10 RB this season but he will not come close to 90 catches this season. I expect Ekeler to have approximately 1500 combined rushing/receiving yards and 10ish TDs. While the Chargers figure to run more there will be another back involved.
  • Justin Jackson-RB: Justin Jackson has been useful when healthy but the issue is he has not been healthy often. Jackson finds himself in a battle with Joshua Kelley for the #2 RB position and I lean Kelley at this moment. As it stands now I expect Jackson and Kelley to both have around 500-600 total yards this season.
  • Joshua Kelley-RB: Kelley to me has the chance to pop like Ekeler did last season. Jackson was lightly used once Melvin Gordon came back and was only an option due to injury in 2018. Kelley was selected in the 4th Round of the 2020 Draft which leads me to believe he is the preferred choice over Jackson. Like I said earlier, expect Kelley to total somewhere around 500 yards this season. That total could always increase with the uncertainty of Jackson.
  • Keenan Allen-WR: There has been no secret about the offensive philosophy change this offseason and that makes me hurt for Keenan Allen. He is one of the premier all-around WRs in the league and he is now going to see a decrease in work. However, I expect Allen to be fantasy relevant as he should be cemented as a mid-tier WR2 for the upcoming season. I see something like 85-90 catches and 1000 yards this season.
  • Mike Williams-WR: Everyone has been waiting for him to explode on the scene, but it won’t be this year. I don’t think there are enough targets to go around this season in LA and Williams will feel that pain. He will have a very up and down weekly stat line and guessing which weeks will be the ‘up weeks’ will be difficult at best. I will not go out of my way to draft Williams. For the season, I see about 50 catches and 750 yards.
  • Hunter Henry: Henry has been a fantasy joy at a position so desperate for fantasy production, but he hasn’t always been healthy. He will still be a better choice than most TEs in the fantasy world but do not expect numbers to rival George Kittle or Travis Kelce. However, I do expect a strong season from Henry. For the season, I see him putting up a handful of TDs and about 800 yards.

Defense:

Defensively, the Chargers have one of the best secondaries of all the NFL; if not the best secondary. The question has been upfront where the run defense can be exposed at times. To address the run game issues they brought in run plugging DT Linval Joseph. The growth of LBs Denzel Perryman and Drue Tranquil will be crucial because 1st Round Pick Kenneth Murray will get a chance to play right away and one of those guys needs to step up and compliment Murray in the middle. The DE combo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is desirable to most teams and the not only thing this unit has to do is stay healthy. Getting a healthy season from Derwin James will bolster this defense. Expect them to be better this season on defense. I am comfortable with them as my defense.

Potential Breakout Player:

  • N/A

Rookie To Know:

  • Justin Herbert-QB
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