Through the first three games of the 2019 season, wide receiver Keenan Allen has been on a whole new level compared to past seasons.
As things stand following Monday Night Football, Allen currently leads the NFL in receiving yardage and catches by a fairly healthy margin. The New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas is second to Allen with 311 receiving yards while Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller sits behind Allen with 26 total catches (13 in week three).
Allen’s three scores through the air are also currently tide with a number of players for second in the NFL while Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, and Amari Cooper are all tied for the league-lead with four.
This fast start to the season may have some fans recalling Allen’s 2015 season where he opened up the season with a franchise-record 15 catches for a then-career-high 166 yards against the Detroit Liones. After posting just two catches for 16 yards in week two, Allen exploded again for 133 yards on 12 catches and two touchdowns. That’s the closest example we have to Allen’s current start, although he has 89 more receiving yards at this point in the season than he did back then.
Although some of his increased volume is due to tight end Hunter Henry being sidelined by a lower-body injury, Allen should be able to sustain a double-digit average in targets throughout the season. In their lone game together against the Indianapolis Colts, Allen still saw 10 targets (he caught eight) while Henry caught four of five targets (third on the team). And even after looking at that, fans would probably still prefer Henry to receive more targets on a game-to-game basis.
The biggest boon to Allen’s continued success at this pace is likely going to be Austin Ekeler. Through three weeks, he is the only other Chargers player with double-digit catches at 19. The next closest player is Mike Williams with an underwhelming eight on the year. Ekeler is also the only player to catch a touchdown from Rivers, who has two through the air while Allen has the other three.
Believers of regression to the mean will likely have you believe that Allen is due to come back down to earth in the coming weeks, but I’m not buying it. Slayer has always been a target vacuum and if the team continues to struggle defensively without Derwin James, Adrian Phillips, and Michael Davis, there should be no shortage of targets while the team consistently finds themselves down a single score with just minutes left in the fourth quarter.