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San Diego Chargers Team Preview

Is Ryan Mathews overrated? Can Keenan Allen improve on his impressive rookie campaign? Jacob Adler analyzes the the Chargers for fantasy purposes.

Donald Miralle

QB: Philip Rivers

QB6 was a decent performance for Rivers, who either went undrafted or as a backup in most leagues. This season, he is being drafted as QB14 on Fantasy Football Calculator, which suggests he might be a value play. My only concern is that three of his four 20+ point games came against the Texans, Eagles, and Cowboys, which were all poor pass defenses last season. He is a fine low-end QB1, but he’s better in a platoon.

RB: Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Donald Brown

In the last four weeks of the 2013 season, Mathews had 29, 29, 25, and 24 carries, his four highest season tallies, and turned those into four of his five best performances of the season. The problem is that if we extrapolated the 26.75 carries per game average over 16 games, Mathews’ pace would have been 428 attempts over a full season. With his history of lower-body injuries, Mathews would be a high-risk player if used that way, and not as valuable if used more conservatively.

Despite a top-20 finish in 2013, Woodhead will not be drafted near that spot this year due to the puzzling signing of Donald Brown, who figures to take over the Ronnie Brown role and possibly more. Woodhead is still worth a pick in PPR formats, but don’t be surprised if Brown steals some of the 3rd down work.

WR: Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd, Eddie Royal, Vincent Brown

Injuries to Floyd and Alexander allowed Allen, who battled through his own health issues, to usurp the #1 receiver job last season. Finishing as WR17 in standard scoring, Allen thrived on the dink-and-dunk offense as well as the medium-length passes. However, Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego reported that Allen has spent the offseason working on his speed and has declared himself "a deep threat". ADP data for Allen varies between the sites between the third and sixth rounds, but he could reach the upper echelon of receivers if he really can run vertical routes.

Although remarkably efficient, Floyd is best left as a conservative option for deep leagues. The same shtick goes for Royal, who is completely dependent on red zone targets for his fantasy value. I don’t know what to expect from Brown, but he stands only 5’11", lacks competitive speed, and profiles as a slot receiver. I’m staying away from all the secondary options.

TE: Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green

Green is an incredible athlete and likely to be a future fantasy monster, but Gates still has a job, and I’m slowly creeping back on board with him. Gates presents a safe chance to land around TE10, even if he isn’t the same player he once was. With his upside, I’m not against selecting Green in drafts, but I am careful not to draft him over players with greater opportunity, and therefore, a better chance to achieve a breakout.

Defense/Special Teams

In my preliminary D/ST rankings, I placed the Chargers D dead last for this coming season. The unit was arguably the worst defense in the league last year, and while I believe addressing defense in the 2014 draft will help in the long term, the only help-now offseason addition was cornerback Brandon Flowers. Since they can’t defend the run or the pass, I don’t see streaming opportunities presenting themselves unless something changes.