Here's the deal. A lot of Charger fans love to draft Chargers players for their fantasy teams. For 2012, this is who I think is worth it, and who is not. I will give a detailed explanation on each one, and give them a recommended draft position, and probable points.
Tier 1: Elite Fantasy Players
Ryan Mathews, HB
I know. This is an unthinkable thing for me to say. But I am saying it. The most valuable Charger in fantasy next season will be Ryan Mathews, in terms of value at his position. He had a pretty good sophomore season. So much for sophomore slump in his case. This past season, he played 2 more games, and I forsee him keeping this trend, and playing all 16 games next season. I see the Chargers having to lean on him more this season, because I also forsee VJ not being in a Chargers uniform next season.
In reality, I see Mathews playing a bit more, and getting around 260 carries. I think he'll average around 4.85 yards per carry, putting him at about 1261 yards on the ground. I think he'll recieve more looks in the receiving game as well. I see him getting about 55-60 receptions next season, and improving his average to around 10 yards.
Rushing Yards- 1261, 5th in the NFL (More carries, more yards, same average)
Rushing TD's- 9, 9th in the NFL (Will get more looks without Tolbert)
Receiving Yards- 580, 3rd in NFL for RB's (More looks without Tolbert and Jackson)
Receiving TD's- 2, 12th in NFL for RB's (Will have a few long ones, and start to attempt to fill sproles' role)
Yards from scrimmage- 1850 yards, 3rd in the NFL (Will get noticed as a "really good" back
Combined TD's- 11, 6th in NFL
Fumbles- 1 (Will have to cut back on fumbles)
126.1 + 54 + 58 + 12 - 2 = 248 points. 3rd for RB's, 7th total NFL
Will look at more Chargers players after the jump.
Philip Rivers, QB
Scandalous. I am one of the biggest Philip Rivers supporters out there. I think he will have better numbers than last season, but it will be hard for him to crack the top 2 QB's list without an Elite receiver. I predict that A.J. will become even more hated in San Diego (if that's possible) by not resigning Jackson, because he won't put down enough money on the table. I think he'll try to work the draft for a receiver, but I don't see a rookie coming in and making an immediate impact. To boost River's numbers, we're going to have to either sign VJ (we have the cap room), or pick up someone like Randy Moss or Hines Ward.
I see him getting around 510 pass attempts this season. I see the Chargers doing better earlier in the games, and relying on the run more to close down games, instead of throw just to get a chance at winning. Don't get me wrong, I love Philip, but it just isn't Norv's style.
I think he'll set a career high percentage with 69.4 completed. 354 completions.
Career high in TD's with 34.
Tie career low in INT's with 9.
I see him hitting the 8.8 average per attempt mark, and get 4500 yards (ish)
1 rushing TD
134+ 180 + 6 - 18 = 302pts
Yes, I know that 302 points are more than Ryan Mathews 248, BUT, in terms of value at his position, I believe he has the better value. I think Rivers will be top 5 of his position, and will return to elite status next season. With or without Vincent Jackson.
IF Vincent Jackson is a Charger next season, this is how he ranks.
Vincent Jackson, WR
Jackson will return to top 3 at his position, but many will follow him closely in terms of points. This is why I have him at #3. Vincent Jackson was a GOOD fantasy option this past season, but he wasn't exactly the most consistent WR out there. One week he'd go off (Packers, Patriots) and the next he'd have a crap game (Broncos, Chiefs, Jets). Don't get me wrong, no matter where he is, he's starting on my fantasy team, but there MIGHT be better options. Keep in mind my estimates are if he stays with the Chargers and their elite Quarterback ONLY.
71 Receptions: Gates is losing a step, and Rivers likes throwing that deep ball.
Career High 1,321 yards, 18.6 average. Will lead NFL in both Categories.
TD's: 10. WIll crack double digits first time in his career. He'll have fresh money, and he'll be more motivated. Also, he's got hops, and can out jump most in the NFL. I see more red zone looks next season.
42 Rushing yards off a reverse, and 1 Touchdown.
132 + 60 + 4 + 6 = 202pts. Returns to top form, makes the pro bowl, and is top 5 in WR's. I see a lot of receivers having great seasons next year. Watch the waiver if you can't lock an "elite" in the draft.
Tier 2: Good Fantasy Players will be published within a week.