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Los Angeles Chargers fantasy football team preview

Who to target and avoid in fantasy football from the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Los Angeles Chargers Training Camp Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

With Tyrod Taylor now quarterbacking the Chargers’ offense, the style of play the team is expected to run is an even more ball-control-heavy offense than under Philip Rivers. Challenging the New York Giants for least informed/analytical team, the Chargers are a throwback to the late ‘90s/early ‘00s as a run-first/stout defense ball club. Fortunately for them, their schedule, as projected by Sharp Football’s Strength of Schedule metrics (listed below), looks perfect that a run-first mentality. Although there are a handful of stout defenses like the Buccaneers, the Patriots, and the Bills, the majority of teams are sorely lacking against opposing ground games. As a result, we can feel somewhat confident in the Chargers’ rushing ability — QB Tyrod Taylor included.

Sharp Football’s Strength of Schedule:

  • 5th softest overall schedule
  • 8th softest in terms of the opponent’s overall defensive efficiency
  • 7th toughest blend of pass defenses
  • Mid-tier in terms of the opponent’s pass defense efficiency
  • Mid-tier blend of run defenses
  • 6th softest in terms of the opponent’s run defense efficiency
  • 4th softest in terms of the opponent’s overall offensive efficiency
  • 6th softest in terms of the opponent’s offensive rushing efficiency
  • The softest in terms of the opponent’s offensive passing efficiency

Quarterback

Despite primarily being a downfield passer, Tyrod Taylor breaks from the stereotype of being a real deep-ball gunslinger. Taylor is calculated and conservative in his approach, able to rely on his rushing ability when his intended receiver hasn’t created separation. In his three years as a starter in Buffalo, Taylor never threw more than six interceptions in a season. Through those three years, he averaged 525 rushing yards and 4.66 rushing touchdowns. During that timespan, Taylor produced two QB16 fantasy finishes with one QB8 finish in 2016. While those Buffalo squads weren’t necessarily slouches, this pass catching group is quite possibly the strongest that Taylor’s had supporting him. Going undrafted in most leagues, Taylor is being slept on as a matchup-based platoon-QB option.

Running Back

The drafting public appears to have appropriately projected RB Austin Ekeler for a sizable decrease in passing game work from his outstanding 2019 season. Every time that Taylor takes off on a scramble is one less 2019-Philip-Rivers-dump-off to Ekeler. That said, Ekeler could still push for the team lead in targets in this low-volume passing attack. His 2.11, RB12 ADP in .5PPR is a fair price to pay for him.

A pulled hamstring derailed Justin Jackson’s training camp, granting an opportunity for rookie Joshua Kelley to take the number two job. At the moment, the waters are still a bit murky but does appear that Kelley succeeded in doing so. Although the change of pace role may not be an fantasy-RB2-style value, a flex-able asset in the right matchup is entirely possible. Kelley makes for a fine pick at the end of a draft.

Wide Receiver

Unfortunately for the team’s best wide receiver, Keenan Allen, Tyrod Taylor’s style of play does not mesh well with Allen’s precision route running/dominance of the short-to-intermediate area of the field. That’s not to say that Allen wont lead the team in targets, but one has to expect that Allen’s efficiency and raw receiving numbers will suffer. The high-ceilings that come with guys like D.J. Chark, D.K. Metcalf, and Terry McLaurin — players who all come off the board rapidly after Keenan Allen — makes Allen’s .5PPR 5.02, WR20 ADP untenable.

Big-bodied, downfield receiver Mike Williams suffered an AC joint sprain in his shoulder during training camp. His timeline to return is somewhere between a game-time decision in Week 1 to the “majority of September”. Although Williams occupies the role that best fits with Tyrod Taylor’s skillset, his injured state makes him a no-go for early season fantasy usage. Speedsters Jalen Guyton and Joe Reed are the candidates to steal his job. Guyton played for the Chargers some last year but has literally no box score production to speak of, making him a less likely candidate to nab the job. Establish The Run’s Evan Silva has been on Joe Reed since March. Reed was a dual threat receiver/rusher at the University of Virginia. But most importantly, he was a game-wrecking kick/punt returner — a characteristic that’s become highly indicative of the future NFL production. Reed is going completely undrafted in .5PPR drafts but the rookie receiver could be a sneaky final-pick addition to your roster.

Tight End

A favorite target of Tyrod Taylor during his time in Buffalo was tight end Charles Clay. This bodes well ultra-talented tight end Hunter Henry who’s shown well in the box score for years, despite being plagued by injury. Were Henry to go down again, XFL standout and a favorite player of Establish The Run’s Adam Levitan, Donald Parham would garner serious fantasy consideration. Someone has to be Tyrod Taylor’s tight end safety valve if Henry misses time.

Kicker

The Chargers’ offense will not be a high-scoring unit. Use Michael Badgley sparingly as a matchup-based waiver wire option.

Defense/Special Teams

The Chargers’ D/ST is a top notch, talented unit that should beat up on lesser passing games.