We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.
The Los Angeles Chargers have been the poster child of looking great on paper nearly every preseason before inevitably collapsing from a mixture of both bad injury and in-game luck. Seriously, this franchise hasn’t sniffed a Super Bowl in roughly 25 years despite having two of the league’s perennial top-10 quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Philip Rivers at their disposal.
Luckily for Chargers faithful: Things are looking just fine ahead of 2021 thanks to the presence of reigning offensive rookie of the year Justin Herbert. Last season's edition of the squad limped to a relatively modest 7-9 record and 18th-ranked scoring offense, but the passing game flashed throughout the year and seems to be on the verge of taking a leap into the upper echelon of the league.
Of course, Herbert isn’t alone. There are talented wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, potential all-world RB Austin Ekeler along with an improving offensive line. This unit seems poised to put up points against defenses of all shapes and sizes.
What follows is a breakdown on just how special the talents inside of the Chargers wide receiver room are and what we should make of them as fantasy football assets ahead of 2021.
The Chargers have a loaded wide receiver room
There are essentially five wide receivers who project to have some level of weekly involvement inside this offense in 2021:
- Allen: The production has been uncanny over the years. Allen joins DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas as the only three wide receivers with at least 100 catches in three seasons since 2017. Attempting to cover Allen with a mere mortal was particularly bad for business in 2020, as only Stefon Diggs (90) had more catches against single coverage than Allen (87). Once labeled as too injury prone to touch in fantasy land, Allen has played in 62 of a potential 64 games since 2017 and is again locked in as one of the league’s bigger target hogs.
- Williams: Unfortunately has never been blessed with triple-digit targets in a single season; that hasn’t stopped the former No. 7 overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft from posting 43-664-10, 49-1,001-2 and 48-756-5 receiving lines over the past three seasons. Nobody has averaged more yards per reception than Williams (17.3) during this span. Never one to jeopardize a reception by worrying about silly things like breaking a fall to protect his health, Williams has always looked the part of a high-end NFL receiver and now might just be looking at the biggest workload of his career.
- Josh Palmer: From our 2021 PFF NFL Draft Guide: “The Volunteers deployed Palmer as a deep threat almost exclusively — his 16.6-yard average depth of target was one of the highest in the country — but they didn't have a quarterback who could maximize that ability. After Palmer put on a show at the Senior Bowl one-on-ones, it's easy to see some parallels to Terry McLaurin at Ohio State. While Palmer isn't that level of athlete, he could easily be more productive in the NFL than he was in college.” It’s far from a given that the Chargers’ third-round rookie starts the season in three-WR sets; just realize Herbert has an exciting new toy to play with.
- Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson: Posted 28-511-3 and 20-398-3 receiving lines in 2020, averaging a hefty 18.3 and 19.9 yards per reception along the way. While neither player is the sort of talent to constantly demand bunches of attention from opposing secondaries, they’ve both proven capable of operating as solid field-stretching threats across from Allen and Williams.
The projected target share for each is still somewhat of a mystery; good thing the man under center looks more than capable of racking up enough production to keep everyone happy.