Monday, July 8, 2013

What Happened to the San Diego Chargers Offense?

Remember back in the day when Philip Rivers was a top 10 fantasy QB and LaDainian Tomlinson was THE running back to own and Vincent Jackson was catching deep balls and Antonio Gates was the best TE in the game? Nowadays, fantasy players are staying away from the Chargers and their turnover prone QB, injury prone RB (Ryan Mathews), their aging TE and their inconsistent WRs (Malcom Floyd, Danario Alexander and Robert Meachem).

During the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons, Rivers competed over 65% of his passes, and threw 92 TDs to just 33 INTs. Over the last two season, he has completed 63% of his passes but his 53 touchdowns have been overshadowed by his 35 interceptions and 20 fumbles! After 3 straight seasons with a QB rating over 100, Rivers has had back to back seasons with a QB rating of 88! With last years rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson becoming a force in fantasy, the emergence of Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick and the return of Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers is no longer a starting QB in a 10 or 12 man league.

Ryan Mathews is now entering his 4th NFL season and has played just 38 games and scored 14 TDs. That's 14 total touchdowns, he has yet to catch a pass for a touchdown. The season before Mathews was drafted, Tomlinson scored 12 rushing TDs. Mathews did rush for over 1000 yards in 2011 averaging nearly 5 yards per carry, in just 14 games, but his 342 other rushing attempts have gone for barely more than 4 yard per carry. There is a good chance that in a 10 or a 12 man league starting two RBs that Ryan Mathews does not even play on a weekly basis. Fantasy owners have fallen out of love with him and his injuries make him way to risky to want to own as a starter. The potential of rookies Montee Ball, Le'Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy are almost more enticing than Mathews. The new look New England Patriots feature Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen who will be valued much higher than usual this year with the loss of Gronkowski and Hernandez. The Miami Dolphins also will have a split backfield now that Reggie Bush is in Detroit so Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas might be better value draft picks than Ryan Mathews. Be very careful this draft season when selecting your running backs.

At the WR position, the Chargers have a bunch of nice WR2s and WR3s as far as the NFL goes, but fantasy wise, theses guys are all WR3s with Vincent Brown having the biggest upside. Brown fractured his ankle last preseason and did not play. He caught 19 passes as a rookie for 329 yards and 2 TDs. Last season, Malcom Floyd lead all Chargers in targets (84), receptions (56) and yards (814). Those are not great number for your teams best wideout. Alexander had the best season of his young career with highs in targets (62), receptions (37), yards (658) and touchdowns (7). You hope he can improve all of those numbers but with the return of Brown and incoming rookie Keenan Allen, it looks like Alexander will struggle for targets. Floyd will turn 32 in September and has had back to back 800 yard and 5 TD seasons. You can expect those numbers again and continue running him out there as a WR3. The Chargers 3rd round draft pick, Keenan Allen, will fight Robert Meachem and maybe even Eddie Royal for playing time, but the way the Chargers have lost players to injury in previous seasons, there will be a time Allen gets a couple of weeks in a row of solid action. All in all, avoid the Chargers receivers until you have already drafted two others!

Antonio Gates owned fantasy football from 2003-2009 averaging 9.5 touchdowns. Outside of Tony Gonzalez there was no other option at the TE position. He played just about every week and was as consistent as any skilled player. The last 3 seasons have been different, as Gates has missed 10 games. He still scores TDs with 24 over 38 games, but is averaging just 54 receptions and 699 yards. He did managed 15 games last year and with Rob Gronkowski on the PUP and Aaron Hernandez behind bars, Gates value is pretty high this season. Obviously Jimmy Graham is the Elite TE of 2013 with Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten just continuing to be solid consistent veterans. But you could argue Gates is a top 5 TE this season, and absolutely a starter in 10 and 12 man leagues. !

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