Note: all points are calculated with PPR scoring
Team Reception Breakdown
Philip Rivers: 252.02 total, 15.8 ppg (340/560 passing, 4368 yards, 26 TD, 13 INT; 33 yards rushing, 0 TD, 2 fumbles lost)
I was expecting Rivers to throw a little less this season on the back of what was shaping up to be a dominant defense. Per tradition, however, injuries have ravaged the Chargers’ ranks. This is still an immensely talented team in all phases so I’m not giving up hope yet, but a weakened defense would mean more throws for Rivers. More throws may not mean more production though. With the release of Antonio Gates and the loss of Hunter Henry to injury, Virgil Green now leads the tight end room. That’s a future HoFer, an elite young talent, and a career journeyman respectively, for those keeping score. I have concerns that Rivers losing his trusted security blankets will hurt his efficiency and turnover rate. Obviously he has potential to once again reach low-end QB1 status as he typically does, but it may prove to be a bit tougher this season. I’m lower on him than most, but I would be leery of taking him as your only QB.
Melvin Gordon: 316.1 total, 19.8 ppg (275 carries, 1073 yards, 9 TD, 1 fumble lost; 65 Rec, 618 yards, 5 TD)
Austin Ekeler: 101.4 total, 6.3 ppg (100 carries, 480 yards, 2 TD, 2 fumbles lost; 20 Rec, 194 yards, 1 TD)
Gordon is not the most efficient running back – he has failed to eclipse 4 YPC any year so far – but he soaks up heavy usage and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. With the tight end room depleted, Gordon’s role in the red zone may very well increase as well. High volume + lots of catches + lots of touchdowns = mid-level RB1 for fantasy. However, Ekeler proved himself to be a capable change of pace back last year. He shouldn’t eat into Gordon’s touches enough to have any kind of standalone value, but he is the direct handcuff to a running back known to miss a few games here and there. You could do worse with a late round flyer.
Keenan Allen: 237.2 total, 14.8 ppg (85 Rec, 1182 yards, 6 TD, 1 fumble lost)
Tyrell Williams: 141.5 total, 8.8 ppg (45 Rec, 725 yards, 4 TD, 0 fumbles lost)
Mike Williams: 130.8 total, 8.2 ppg (45 Rec, 558 yards, 5 TD, 0 fumbles lost)
Keenan Allen is absolutely still the leader of this receiving corps, but there is an interesting battle shaping up behind him for the WR2 role. Tyrell Williams proved to be a solid option when thrust into the starting role 2 years ago, but Mike Williams has the draft pedigree and is being used extensively in the red zone. The yardage difference favors deep-threat Tyrell for fantasy purposes, but unless one emerges as the clear second receiver they will most likely sabotage each others’ chances for fantasy relevance. I would consider both WR5’s with significant upside. Allen should continue to see the heaviest workload of the bunch and should be viewed as a borderline WR1/2 with the possibility to move up a little more due to the sudden lack of viable tight ends on the roster. Also keep an eye on Travis Benjamin. There are a lot of players ahead of him in the pecking order, but he may get more time as the Chargers’ fourth receiver than you would think. He’s also only one Chargers-cursed injury away from extensive playing time.
Virgil Green: 75.0 total, 4.7 ppg (30 Rec, 330 yards, 2 TD, 0 fumbles lost)
I don’t mean to hate on Green, but the fact of the matter is he’s trying to fill the shoes of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. No offense, but no. The Chargers are highly unlikely to utilize the tight end much as a receiving weapon this year. Green is best left on waivers.