When I was younger you could ask anyone in my fantasy football league who the San Diego Charger fan was. It was the guy with Gates and Rivers and they were usually not picked where they fantasy value would dictate. Needless to say I rarely won any fantasy leagues. I had a some great years but I didn’t draft with my head I drafted with my football heart, and mine, like those reading this article, lives in San Diego. I’m here to educate you on the evolution of fantasy drafts, save you from silly picks coming from your gut and not the data and guide you to glory by picking Chargers where a winning strategy would dictate and not by jerseys hanging in your closet. There are roughly 10 players (including the defensive unit) on the current roster that could break into a fantasy roster. We’ll analyze pure data, predict production and estimate what round the first five of the 10 impact San Diego Chargers should go in or if they should even be drafted at all.
Up first is Philip Rivers. The 31-year-old quarterback is coming off two years which saw him put up an average of 4,100 yards, 26.5 TDs and 17.5 INTs. These aren’t terrible fantasy numbers but they aren’t starter numbers either. The good news for Rivers is the quarterback position, like fine wine, hold its value until the age of 35 or 36. To be specific since 2000 quarterbacks between the ages of 30 and 32 produce about 90 to 95 percent of the peak production. And we all know Rivers’ peak production is high. With an improved offensive line, a healthy Vincent Brown and depth at RB, there is no reason to believe the gloved Philip Rivers can’t return to being a fantasy starter with McCoy and Whisenhunt calling the shots.
Production Prediction: 4,300 yards, 30 TDs and 12 INT
Stay Away Until... the 16th round
Notes: Philip should be chosen if you’re forced to take a QB with an injury history or one that’s unproven. If you take Robert Griffin III, Rivers may be the answer for a backup.
Antonio Gates, a former fantasy superstar who bucked trends, consistently gave fantasy owners nearly double digit touchdowns and never fewer than 700 yards...until last year. A whopping 18 tight ends tallied more yards than Gates last year. Five produced more TDs and if not for the three touchdowns in the last three game that number would have been a lot higher. There’s nothing worse than getting production from your players in the last few weeks of the season when you’re outside looking in at the fantasy league playoffs. The 33-year-old pass catcher is likely have to have an slight uptick in yards and TDs will likely stay the same. Tight ends over the age of 31 rarely give more than 80 percent of peak production. Compared to the other fantasy positions (QB, RB, WR) Tight Ends have the fewest seasons with 80 percent of their peak production. This doesn’t bode well for Gates but a revitalized passing game and more weapons on the outside give Gates a chance to come close.
Production Prediction: 675 yards, 6 TDs
Stay Away Until... the 8th Round
Notes: Gates is a borderline starter, only in the right round would you want to pick him up, which is in the 8th or beyond, just don’t take him sooner than that or you’ll look like a homer.
Keenan Allen, the third-round, super value in this year’s draft is trying to bump Malcolm Floyd for the third receiver spot. Rookies are tough to evaluate for fantasy impact. Running backs are typically the players that come in and contribute immediately. Allen had a stellar career at Cal capitalized by 1,343 yard and 6 TD campaign in 2011. Allen will come nowhere close to that production this year, maybe ever. It would take a an injury or two for Allen to get a shot at producing numbers that may have fantasy value.
Production Prediction: 225 yards, 2 TDs
Stay Away Until... free Agency, Allen will likely need a TD catch before he’s picked up by any fantasy team
Notes: If any two of the Chargers main targets (Alexander, Brown, Floyd, Meachem) become injured keep an eye on Allen.
Danny Woodhead came to the Chargers via the Patriots where he was a utility man of sorts accumulating 301 rushing yards and 446 receiving yards with 7 total TDs. Right now it’s unclear how Woodhead is going to be used in the Chargers offense. He’ll again have more receiving yards than rushing yards but how many touches he’ll get will be dependent on the health and production of Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown. Woodhead should get quite a few more touches than Brown and rightly so. Woodhead is three years younger and has far fewer miles on his legs. If you’re in a PPR (Points Per Reception) League, Woodhead would be a valuable player but in standard leagues he must be picked at the right time to provide value.
Production Prediction: 350 rushing yards, 525 receiving yards, 6 TDs
Stay Away Until... the 11th Round
Notes: Monitor how he’s used in the preseason as it should give more insight into how he might be used in the offense.
The San Diego defense was a roller coaster of production. In fantasy terms the defense produced 7 TDs, second only to Chicago and were in the middle of the pack in sacks and points allowed but it wasn’t consistent. Consistency is key for defenses in fantasy leagues but predicting it is harder than guessing what bone Ryan Mathews breaks next. The best way to predict a defense’s production is to look at the teams they face during the year and their typical offensive production. For the best analysis look at Fantasy Football Toolbox.com for a 2013 Fantasy Strength of Schedule. San Diego ranks 6th in terms of having favorable teams that “allow” the most fantasy points. Don’t misinterpret those rankings either. Oakland may have the most favorable matchup but it doesn’t mean you want to pick them as defense. Use last year’s results as a primary indicator first. It’s highly unlikely San Diego repeats their 7 TD performance again but they may be a top 10 fantasy defense.
Production Prediction: 320 points allowed, 39 sacks and 4 TDs
Stay Away Until... you’ve filled our your team and defense and kicker are the last spots to be taken, look for better defenses first. Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Houston and Chicago should all be off the board first.
So there are the first five impact players that may see action on a fantasy team. Part II coming soon!