2020 Preview: Los Angeles Chargers


Chargers News: Wide receiver group will be top heavy in 2020 ...

The 2020 NFL Season is nearly upon us, and in anticipation of the new season we’ll be previewing the action team-by-team, using the draft order from last season. The previews will kick off with the Bengals and run right through the reigning champion Chiefs. Come back each day to check out your favorite team. All ADP and Rankings reflect PPR scoring. 2020 Projections are based on a 12-team league (i.e. WR1 (Top 12), WR2 (13-24), WR3 (25-36)).

            The Chargers entered the 2019 season with promise and lofty aspirations. The team finished 12-4 in 2018, tied for the best record in the AFC, and figured to compete for the playoffs again in 2019. But the off-season included a hold out for star running back Melvin Gordon, and the regular season continued the Chargers’ bumpy ride. Phillip Rivers struggled at times, the team suffered injuries and all of a sudden, the Chargers found themselves at 5-11, in the basement of the AFC West.

            With that dramatic change of circumstance, the team decided it was time to change things up as they prepare for their first season in a new stadium in Los Angeles. Rivers departed, signing with the Colts. Gordon followed him, signing with the rival Denver Broncos. And in April, the Chargers reached for their quarterback of the future, drafting Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick. Will it lead to greater success in 2020?

Off-Season Changes

            As noted above, the Chargers changed the face of the franchise by bidding farewell to Rivers. While veteran Tyrod Taylor figures to start the season, the Chargers think they found their future in Herbert. A four-year player at Oregon, Herbert finished with 10,541 passing yards, 95 TDs and just 23 INTs. He will likely play at some point, but the question is when. The Chargers also bolstered their running back group by drafting Joshua Kelley out of UCLA and added receivers Joe Reed and K.J. Hill.

            Aside from that, the Chargers made a few moves to bolster their defense, including signing cornerback Chris Harris, Jr., from the Broncos. They also locked up tight end Hunter Henry with a Franchise Tag and running back Austin Ekeler with a new four-year deal. That gives them a core of weapons for whoever is playing quarterback.

Fantasy Impact

            Quarterback is a question, and as such is a position to be avoided. I think Taylor and Herbert will split the season, with Herbert playing nine or 10 games. Herbert could make his way into QB3 territory, and be valuable late in the season, but both are best avoided in re-draft at this point. Running back is clearer, as Ekeler should be an RB1. He was RB4 in 2019 and while I expect him to drop back a bit in 2020, he should still be a solid starter. That’s in line with his ADP of RB11. Behind him is Kelley and third year back Justin Jackson. Someone will have value as a complimentary back, as Gordon was RB23 paired with Ekeler in 2019. My money is on Jackson, who looked good in tandem with Ekeler early in 2019 before an injury—and the return of Gordon—pushed him back to the bench. I think Jackson can return RB4 value.

            Among receivers, the Chargers’ top two are back in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Allen was WR6 while Williams was WR41 with Rivers in 2019. Both figure to have good value this year, too, though the passing game might not be as robust. I see Allen as a solid WR2, and I think Williams is a WR4 again. Despite playing in only 12 games, Henry was TE9 in 2019. That’s a big part of why the Chargers kept him on the Franchise Tag. He should be a TE1. I’m not buying any other Chargers’ receivers for fantasy in 2020, but I have stashed Hill in a couple dynasty leagues. He was great at Ohio State and could be a nice slot receiver for the Chargers despite his Seventh-Round draft capital.

Prediction

            The Chargers came into 2019 looking to make a title run and came out of it looking to start over. They’re beginning that process in 2020 and I’m excited to see what Herbert can do. I don’t see the Chargers making a serious playoff run this year.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.

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