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AFC West

“James Addiction” 2016 San Diego Chargers Preview

In 2015 the San Diego Chargers went from a nine win team to a four win team. Nine of their twelve losses were by seven points or less. Ten different offensive lineman played at least 100 snaps. Antonio Gates started the year off on a four game suspension, and in Week 8 they lost Keenan Allen, their number one wide receiver. In addition, first round draft pick Melvin Gordon did not meet lofty expectations. All in all it was a forgettable season for Chargers fans, but still I look for the Chargers to bounce back a bit this year in a very tough division.

2015 Record: 4-12
Passing Offense (YPG): 4th (286.9 YPG) Passing Defense (YPG): 14th (236.6)
Rushing Offense (YPG): 31st (84.9 YPG) Rushing Defense (YPG): 27th (125.3)
Total Offense (YPG): 9th (371.8 YPG) Total Defense (YPG): 20th (361.9)

brandon-mebane-dt-seattle-seahawks_pg_600

 

Offseason

In the offseason the Chargers brought in Brandon Mebane, from Seattle, to shore up the middle of the defensive line. They drafted DE Joey Bosa, from Ohio St., with the third pick of the draft to add another player capable of rushing the passer, after finishing 24th in the league in sacks. Bosa currently remains unsigned, but hopefully can work out an agreement around the start of training camp. Dwight Lowery also signed, after a year with the Colts, and should step in as the starter at free safety. Cornerback Casey Hayward was also signed away from the Green Bay Packers and should compete for one of the starting positions.

On offense, the Chargers brought back Ken Whisenhunt to run the offense. Philip Rivers had one of his better years in 2013 under Whisenhunt before Whisenhunt was hired to coach the Tennessee Titans in 2014. San Diego’s biggest offensive free agent signing this offseason is Travis Benjamin. The slight but speedy receiver is coming off his best season in Cleveland after posting 68/966/5 line, and he can also handle punt return duties. In the draft the Chargers selected Tight End Hunter Henry out of Arkansas. Henry is the Mackey Award winner given to the nation’s top collegiate Tight End, and should step into a sizeable role in the offense. Guard, Matt Slauson was also signed as a free agent from the New York Jets.

 

Offense

Quarterback

At Quarterback, ironman Philip Rivers will once again lead the team. In 2015 even with few offensive weapons, he put up his normal numbers: 4,793 Yards, 29 TD’s against 13 Interceptions and a 66.2% completion rate. At 34 and as durable as they come, Rivers should once again provide exceptional play at Quarterback. In Travis Benjamin’s own words, he did not return to Cleveland because he wanted to play with “a better Quarterback,” and he should have found him with Rivers. Rivers is consistently ranked outside of the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks in the league, but consistently finishes well within the top 10. In the unlikely scenario that Philip Rivers should get hurt the team will turn to either Kellen Clemens, or Zach Mettenberger who was signed recently after being cut by the Tennessee Titans.

Running Back

At running back Melvin Gordon, after micro-fracture surgery in January, is expected to be ready sometime during training camp. In his rookie season he rushed for only 3.5 yards per carry and 641 yards. His second season should give a clearer indication of what kind of player he will be. For most of his rookie season there were absolutely no holes for him to run through playing behind an often injured offensive line. Offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, would be ecstatic if his current lineman, D.J. Fluker, Orlando Franklin, King Dunlap could remain healthy to pair with Joe Barksdale and the new addition Matt Slauson, who is moving to the center position. If healthy, the offensive line and Melvin Gordon should have ample opportunity to succeed this season in the running game. Secret weapon, Danny Woodhead, will again spell Gordon and be a big part of the passing game out of the backfield. His 81/756/6 receiving line was almost an exact match of his 2013 season, and Rivers loves having him in the backfield. Branden Oliver should be next in line for running back duties, after missing most of the 2014 season with a turf toe injury, should Gordon go down or not be ready to start the season.

Wide ReceiverRivers and Allen

At receiver, Keenan Allen is back after suffering a lacerated kidney in week 8 last season. He recently signed a 4 year extension with a $45 million base value. In 2015, Allen had three huge games in the first eight weeks, with 41 receptions and 456 yards coming in just those three games. That’s more than half the receivers in the league get in a whole season. In the other 5 games he also put up respectable fantasy numbers other than week 2’s, 2 for 16 with a lost fumble, line. At the send receiver position is newly acquired Travis Benjamin. Benjamin’s speed should help stretch the field for Rivers, and also provide a deep option, where Rivers has excelled over the years. Stevie Johnson will again man the slot and will see increased opportunities should Allen or Benjamin miss any time. Dontrelle Inman is the fourth receiver, but will not see significant time unless an injury occurs.

Tight End

Antonio Gates is back for another year at Tight End. His 104 career receiving touchdowns put Gates only 7 TD’s away from tying Tony Gonzalez’ NFL record at the tight end position. At age 35 in 2015, and after serving a four game suspension to start the season, Gates put up a respectable 56/630/5. In the draft San Diego took Mackey Award winning tight end, Hunter Henry, in the second round. Henry will replace Ladarius Green who moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency. Henry has enough ability to step in right away and see a lot of time on the field in two tight end sets and to give Gates some rest. In college he was known as an excellent run blocker and route runner. In his senior season at Arkansas he had 51 catches without a drop.

 

Defense

Defensive Line

San Diego’s defense dropped to the 20th ranked defense in the league in 2015, after finishing 9th the previous season. The biggest reason for the drop was the fall to the 27th spot against the run. John Pagano will be entering his fifth season as Defensive Coordinator for the team. He runs a base 3-4 defense and has retooled for the coming season. First Round pick, Joey Bosa, known for being a high motor player, was drafted to play one of the DE spots and rush the passer. He’s been compared to Everson Griffen, for the Minnesota Vikings, in that he can get after the Quarterback and also play in coverage around the line. The other addition, Brandon Mebane, is a run stuffing specialist and will help tie up the middle of the field, where the other teams’ running backs frequented last season. The last nine seasons he filled the same role on the Seattle defense at NT. The additions of Bosa and Mebane should also free up Corey Liuget, at the other DE position. He has never been a high sack guy, but this offseason he has gotten down below the 300 pound mark which should translate into more quickness, and he could threaten double digits in sacks this season.

LinebackersPerryman

Last year’s sack leader Melvin Ingram along with 3rd year player Jerry Attaochu, who play the OLB positions, should get the majority of the sacks in this defense. Rising star Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o will start at MLB. Perryman, a rookie last year, played sparingly until the final stretch of the season, but over the final 7 games was one of the best inside linebackers in the league. This season his role should expand to play all three downs. Te’o has often been injured thus far in his career, but when healthy he has been solid on the field. This offseason he has focused on getting to a lower playing weight in an effort to increase quickness and durability.

Secondary

The only question mark in the secondary is at one of the corner spots. Jason Verrett is a definite starter, but on the other side either Brandon Flowers or Casey Hayward will lineup. Flowers has had a couple of down years of late and unless he can display some prior form, the younger player, Hayward, could overtake him. Dwight Lowery was brought in to play free safety, from the Colts, where he finished among the top 20 fantasy safeties of 2015. Jahleel Addae will again play at strong safety. Last season the Chargers were 14th best against the pass, and with the additions of Lowery and Hayward, could be on the rise.

 

 

Special Teams

On special teams, Josh Lambo, should return at Kicker. He had mixed results in his rookie season, hitting 4 of 5 FG’s over 50 yards, but missing on 5 of 16 attempts from the 40-49 yard range and on 4 of 32 Point After Attempts. He does have a strong leg and should be given every opportunity to retain the kicking role.

The Chargers have many experienced returners on the team. Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead are both capable punt returners along with new addition Travis Benjamin. Kickoffs are likely to be return by returning running back Branden Oliver and backup receiver Javontee Herndon.

 

Fantasy Targets (ADP provided by myfantasyleague.com as of 6/28/2016)

Philip Rivers – ADP of 101.4 across all leagues and 13th among QB’s. Rivers consistently outperforms his ADP and provides great value as the 13th QB off the board.

Keenan Allen – ADP of 19.68 across all leagues and 10th among WR’s. In 2015, Allen was on pace to be one of the top fantasy WR’s in the league until an injury cut short his season in week 8. This year, despite the injury, he is being drafted in the second or early third round. With Rivers at QB and Travis Benjamin now stretching the field, Allen should live up to expectations.

Antonio Gates & Hunter Henry – Gates, ADP of 153.11 and 17th TE selected, right in front of Henry who is at an ADP of 160.06 and the 18th TE off the board. Gates, is a steal as the 17th TE off the board when he consistently performs as one of the top 5 TE’s in the league. Henry is wildcard. He has a ton of potential, but the 18th TE off the board is about right for him, until we see how the Chargers plan to work him into the game plan – will they plan more WR heavy or TE heavy.

Melvin Gordon – ADP of 88.31 across all leagues and 27th among RB’s. Gordon has been tagged as a breakout candidate this season. I’d be wary in early drafts, but in later drafts we should see how the injury has healed, and if he is running well his numbers should increase behind a healthy offensive line.

Melvin Ingram – ADP of 234.5 across all leagues and the 37th LB off the board. Ingram should only be drafted in sack heavy leagues as he does not record enough tackles and other statistics to start.

Denzel Perryman ADP of 190.11 across all leagues and the 30th LB off the board. Perryman performed like a top 5 LB over the final seven games of 2015. With the extra playing time he should receive by playing all three downs he provides incredible value at the 30th spot and higher in all IDP drafts.

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Major League Fantasy Football Weekly: Join Lou LandersZak Sauer, and Corey D Roberts live Saturday June 25th, 2016 from 1-2:30pm EST for episode #24 of Major League Fantasy Football Weekly. We will run our show on Saturday until August 27th, and then move back to Tuesday nights from 8-10pm EST on September 13th. This is a live broadcast and we do take callers at 323-870-4395. We will discuss the AFC West  from a NFL and fantasy football perspective.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Corey D Roberts and Kyle Amore live on Thursday June 30th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #20 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This is part 2 of our MLB Draft coverage that will wrap up with the N.L. side of the draft.

Our guests are Coach Andy Macuga and Bryan Luhrs. Andy is the Head Baseball Coach at Borrego Springs H.S. in southern California as well as a seasoned veteran in MLFS leagues. Bryan is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports, and a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

 

I grew up a Dallas Cowboy's fan in Washington Redskins' country, but I currently reside in Florida. I have played fantasy sports since 1999, but have narrowed it down to football only over the last few years. I have a beautiful daughter that keeps me busy and feeling young, and in my free time I write for Major League Fantasy Sports, play golf and spend time on outdoor activities.

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