san-diego-chargers

The San Diego Chargers (9-7)

Written by: Brian Genord

Coaching Changes:

Head Coach: Mike McCoy (Retained)

Offensive Coordinator: Frank Reich (Retained)

Defensive Coordinator: John Pagano (Retained)

 

Key Free agents:

RB Ryan Matthews

2014 Stats: 165 Snaps, 74 carries, 330 YDS, 4.5 YPC, 3 TDs, 10 Targets, 9 REC, 69 YDS, 0 TDs

Age/Contract status: 27  years old.

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Will Matthews have a fantasy relevant role with his new team should he leave the Chargers?

Ryan Matthews is testing the crowded running back waters of free agency this offseason. It is hard to say where Matthews might end up seeing as it really depends on who is willing to take a chance on him. No one is doubting the skills that Matthews has, but rather how many games can he be active and able to perform. He is a dynamic downhill runner who has shown great vision, but has been continually plagued by injury in almost every year in the league. He played decent in the six games that he was active in 2014, but it will be his injury free 2013 year that will earn him a roster spot in the NFL. For the first time in Matthew’s career he did not miss a game due to injury in 2013. He racked up a career high 1,255 rushing yards and six touchdowns and lead the NFL with six 100 yard games. Teams courting Matthews will be hoping that he can stay healthy and bring a great 2015 rushing campaign to their team. Long term, Matthews’ future is a complete mess. One of the truly boom or bust players in the league he could be an absolute steal in later rounds in fantasy or be a complete waste of a roster spot for years to come. The most likely landing spots for him will be the Arizona Cardinals or a return to San Diego for one last run with the franchise. His value will be highest if he returns to the Chargers where they are familiar with him and his strengths and more importantly those weaknesses a team will want to avoid. Wherever he ends up he will have to fight for a starting spot with existing running backs, his history will not garner him an immediate starting role on most NFL teams.

WR Eddie Royal

2014 Stats: 773 Snaps, 91 Targets, 62 RECs, 68% catch rate, 778 YDS, 12.5 YPC, 7 TDs

Age/Contract status:  28 years old.

Eddie Royal is a great duel threat weapon that San Diego utilized well but inconsistently last year. Royal’s strengths come with the ball in his hands. Weather that is catching a punt or a quick screen he is a dynamic open field runner. He fills the role of both above average returner and solid slot receiving option for any team. I am very interested to see which team gives Royal the best contract and see what role he will take on for the team. Last year in San Diego, Royal was serviceable but not a recommended play. With his talent he could continue similar production next year and possibly even take on a bigger role depending on the situation he lands in. The most likely destinations for Royal are interestingly his former team and AFC West rival Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, and a return to the Chargers. Royal never lived up to his early second round expectations in Denver, but he was never truly utilized the way he was this past season with the Chargers when he was there. Denver’s punt returning was far below league average last year and they could always use depth at wide receiver. With Julius Thomas more than likely leaving big D and Wes Welker’s poor play, Royal could be a great slot receiving and red zone option for the Peyton Manning and the Broncos. It is beginning to look like the Reilly Cooper experiment in Philly is about to abruptly end. Jordan Matthews should be moving from the slot role into the full time wide out position for Chip Kelly and his offense. I cannot think of a better fit for Royal than a team lead by a man like Chip Kelly that gives his players the ball quickly and puts them in a great position to run in the open field. Royal could be an explosive addition to an already potent offense. Royal’s fantasy value will drastically be determined by which team he signs with this offseason.

Other Free Agents:  C Nick Hardwick, C Doug Legursky, C Rich Ohrnberger, T King Dunlap, LB Andrew Gachkar, LB Dwight Freeny, CB Brandon Flowers, CB Shareece Wright, S Marcus Gilchrist

 

Review/Preview of Fantasy relevant players:

QB Phillip Rivers

2014 Stats: 379 completions, 66.5 % CMP Rate, 4,286 PYDS, 31 PTD, 18 INT, 102 RYDS, 0 RTD

Age/Contract status: 33 years old / Signed through the 2015 season

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Can Rivers keep up the QB #1 production in 2015?

 

Coming off of the 2013 Comeback Player of the Year award and into the 2014 season I have to admit I was very bullish about Rivers. I was not convinced that he was going to continue that production in the 2014 year, but he proved a lot of people wrong once again. There is no doubt now that with the new offensive staff and system Rivers is back! Finishing as the number 12 quarterback last year he looks to have revived his career and is back to being a fantasy relevant quarterback with top five upside. Some of that production will depend on whether Rivers can get his young talent to step up this season. The franchise has done a good job putting players around Rivers who can help him get the ball out early and get yards after the catch. Young players like Keenan Allen, Dontrelle Inman, and Ladarius Green must take steps forward to bring this offense to the next level. Hopefully the Chargers can continue to find a running game and tight end Antonio Gates has enough in the tank for a playoff run in 2015 and can provide us with some good fantasy production out of Rivers. I am still waiting on quarterback in all of my leagues, but would love to land Rivers later in my drafts. I still think Rivers has a couple more good years left in him and is still very valuable in dynasty formats. Rivers is probably still a great buy low candidate for teams who are looking at a championship window now. The new offense has given new life to Rivers career by eliminating hard hits from getting the ball out quickly.

 

 

RB Danny Woodhead

2014 Stats: 69 Snaps, 15 carries, 38 YDS, 2.5 YPC, 0 TDs, 6 Targets, 5 REC, 34 YDS, 0 TDs

Age/Contract status: 30 years old / Signed through the 2016 season

Danny Woodhead is coming off a fractured fibula and ankle in early 2014. Such a gruesome injury will lead to a lot of doubt about Woodhead’s ability to bounce back. In 2013, Woodhead had over 1,000 total yards and 8 touchdowns. His 2013 numbers were already going to be very hard to duplicate in an offense full of different weapons. I can see him coming back to be a solid role player in the offense. After his injury and the increased amount of talent on the team, I doubt Woodhead will be fantasy relevant in most standard leagues. If you are in a PPR league he might be worth a very late round stash to hope for the best. The Chargers running back situation is wide open, but Woodhead still does not carry much value for me in any league format.

RB Branden Oliver

2014 Stats: 381 Snaps, 160 carries, 582 YDS, 3.6 YPC, 3 TDs, 45 Targets, 36 REC, 271 YDS, 1 TD

Age/Contract status: 23 years old / Signed through the 2016 season

Brandon+Oliver+Jacksonville+Jaguars+v+San+CPinZt7PaLbl

Oliver exploded onto the scene, but then faded quickly. Can he regain a prominent role with the team?

Brandon Oliver is one truly intriguing player on the San Diego Chargers. He had some flashes of greatness during the 2014 season and is at least a serviceable backup for the franchise. Oliver’s value is certainly in the “wait and see” phase right while we see if San Diego brings back Ryan Matthews to compete for the job or another free agent running back. This year’s offseason is full of talented free agent running backs and Oliver’s role will take some time to evaluate fully, but I think he is an interesting stash in any league. If Oliver is beaten out for the top spot in San Diego he will also be a very solid handcuff for the starter. Dynasty leagues seem to be a great place to try and get a hold of Oliver because it could take some time for him to get fully comfortable in the offense, as well as get his shot to take over the workload. I will be targeting this young running back in my dynasty league and will be waiting to see how his role develops before my summer drafts.

RB Donald Brown

2014 Stats: 370 Snaps, 85 carries, 223 YDS, 2.6 YPC, 0 TDs, 41 Targets, 29 REC, 211 YDS, 0 TDs

Age/Contract status:  27 years old / Signed through the 2016 season

Donald Brown was selected 27th overall in the 2009 draft by the Indianapolis Colts. A very talented and physical back out of Connecticut, he was supposed to be their running back of the future. Although he finally showed some life replacing Trent Richardson in 2013 as the starter, he chose to sign with the San Diego Chargers in the offseason. He averaged just over 2.5 yards per carry this season and made almost no impact when starter Ryan Matthews went down with an injury. I saw what Brown was able to do at times in his last season for the Colts and could still see him making some noise this offseason. He needs to adapt to the Chargers offense this year if he wants to have a chance to start. I still have Brown behind the younger Oliver in terms of a chance to gain the starting job over whoever the Charger bring in from free agency or the draft. We will have to keep an eye on how things work out in training camp. I am avoiding Brown at this point but could reasonably see the situation changing in the offseason.

WR Keenan Allen

2014 Stats: 853 Snaps, 121 Targets, 77 RECs, 63.6% catch rate, 783 YDS, 10.2 YPC, 4 TDs

Age/Contract status:  22 years old / Signed through the 2016 season

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Allen had an inconsistent fantasy season. Can he bounce back and be a reliable WR #2 for owners?

Keenan Allen is probably the most fantasy relevant player on the Chargers. After an amazing rookie season, his production dropped off in 2014. He had six more receptions this season but his yards decreased by over 250 and he had four less touchdowns. It seemed as though some defenders were able to lock up Allen much easier this season, but there is still no denying the ability that Allen has in route running and pass catching. Allen who was drafted right about the end of the third round based on ADP last year and he was quite the disappointment for fantasy players. I believe that Allen is actually a great “buy low” candidate in fantasy right now. With another year in the Chargers system and another offseason with quarterback Phillip Rivers, I think Allen can get his yards per catch back to an effective number as well as significantly increase his total receptions. I am very excited to begin mock drafts in my standard leagues after the NFL draft to see how late I can get Allen. His production last year is my presumed floor for a talented wide out like Allen. With the emergence of more young talent on the Chargers, I think it will only open up the field even more for him. This is a perfect time to buy low while you can on a very young talented receiver in your dynasty leagues. The Chargers know that he is the future of the franchise and desperately want to develop him in their quick passing system. If you can get him for a decent price, he is worth the risk. I expect the Chargers to add to their run game in the offseason and the play action pass might be just what Allen needs to increase his big play potential in 2015.

WR Malcom Floyd

2014 Stats: 960 Snaps, 92 Targets, 52 RECs, 56.5% catch rate, 856 YDS, 16.5 YPC, 6 TDs

Age/Contract status:  33 years old / Signed through the 2015 season

Malcolm Floyd or M80 as some Chargers call him had one of the most surprising seasons in recent history for the team. He did it all for San Diego, played possession receiver well when they needed him, but most importantly he brought the deep threat to the offense that it needed the most. The Chargers have recently switched to a quick passing game in the last two years, but Phillip Rivers still has a very strong accurate arm. While Keenan Allen ran most of the short quick routes for the offense as the first read, Floyd used his size and speed to split defenses all year. I do not see this type of production continuing this year and is nothing more than a late round flyer. He is completely touchdown dependent and has more competition this year with wide receiver Dontrelle Inman emerging late in the year for the team. If Royal does not return to the Chargers and Floyd beats out Inman in training camp, he does become slightly interesting once again. There will be more targets to go around with Royal gone and the offenses continued growth should result in an increased role for both starting receivers.

WR Dontrelle Inman

2014 Stats: 123 Snaps, 17 Targets, 12 RECs, 70.5% catch rate, 158 YDS, 13.2 YPC, 0 TD

Age/Contract status:  26 years old / Signed through the 2015 season

dontrelle inman

Will Dontrelle Inman play a larger role for the Chargers this year?

Dontrelle Inman’s sample size is about as small as it gets in this offense. He has had some success in the CFL and the last two games of the year for the Chargers, but nothing concrete to point to. While Keenan Allen was out the last two games of the year for the Chargers Inman recorded 12 catches for 158 yards. He seemed so comfortable making quick breaks for the ball as well as extending downfield and using his size to go up and get passes near the deep sideline. Rivers seemed to prefer to get the ball to Inman in those last two game as opposed to wide out Malcolm Floyd who was then receiving the lion’s share of defensive attention with Allen sidelined. I will be targeting Inman in my dynasty leagues because he could be an extremely cheap and effective receiver. Keep an eye out for training camp to see how he does in comparison to Floyd for the second starting job. If Inman wins the job I think him and Keenan Allen could both be poised for productive fantasy years.

TE Antonio Gates

2014 Stats: 787 Snaps, 98 Targets, 69 RECs, 70.4% catch rate, 821 YDS, 11.9 YPC, 12 TDs

Age/Contract status:  34 years old / Signed through the 20015 season

Antonio Gates, five time All-Pro and nine time Pro Bowl player had an amazing 2014 season. He became only the fourth player in NFL history to record 12 or more touchdowns at the age of 34. How much gas does Gates have in the tank? We have no idea but it seems reasonable to assume he will still be somewhat productive next year. He will continue to take less snaps, but he should still be a dynamic possession receiver for the Chargers. He has always been able to use his basketball background and size to split the middle of the field. Creating big plays for the offense over the years opens up other areas of the field even if he is not catching the ball. The defense has to honor an athlete of that size coming over the middle. Not a very valuable dynasty asset at his age, but he can still be useful to a team that is looking to win now, and not looking to spend much at the position, or even if you have a young tight end who has not quite produced enough yet. Examples would include owners of Austin Saferian-Jenkins, Eric Ebron, or Gates teammate Ladarius Green. I expect Gates to still be a top ten tight end next year but be aware, a decline could be right around the corner.

TE Ladarius Green

2014 Stats: 296 Snaps, 25 Targets, 19 RECs, 76% catch rate, 226 YDS, 11.9 YPC, 0 TDs

Age/Contract status:  24 years old / Signed through the 2015 season

ladarius Green

Will 2015 be the year that Green finally takes over the primary pass catching TE role for the Chargers?

Ladarius Green had 19 total catches in 2014 and zero touchdowns. It has been a frustrating run for dynasty owners of Ladarius Green the last few years. Many dynasty owners drafted Green expecting for the inevitable collapse of the fantasy value of teammate Antonio Gates. Unfortunately for Green’s owners, Gates has continued to be a highly effective tight end in the league. If your team is in a good place where you have a roster spot to stash him, you should stay patient with Green. Greens skill set reminds me a lot of Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham. The potential is scary high, but it is worrisome that San Diego has not made it a priority to develop him into a solid starting role yet. His rookie deal ends after the 2015 season, at this time it will be on the Chargers to decide whether it is time to move on from Gates and finally give Green his chance, or give Green the opportunity to use free agency to find the right fit for his skill set. If I am in a rebuilding mode or a very stable franchise position I will be looking to buy Green for pennies on the dollar. I will only be drafting Green this year in standard leagues if I have Antonio Gates, and even then I will probably be able to find a better option later in the draft to back up Gates.

To see other completed team reviews please click on the team name below.

NFC WEST: Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49’ers, Arizona Cardinals, St Louis Rams

AFC WEST: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders