Consider a restaurant you frequent. No, not the one where you always order the same thing. I mean the one where, no matter whether you try the Hunan Beef, Moo Goo Gai Pan or Szechuan Pork, you can feel pretty good about the odds that you’ll end up liking it. Much as you liked the Shrimp Lo Mein they served up last time. The fantasy implications of the San Diego Chargers offense strike me as an apt analogy.
When multiple Chargers began to catch my eye of late, in one fantasy draft after another, a grab yourself one of these guys at the end narrative took shape in my head. There will be an element of that here, but I realized that perhaps more interestingly, every Charger appears to be a good buy at his average draft position. As balanced as this team’s playcalling has been since Mike McCoy took over as head coach, it might surprise that any particular player would be in line for enough volume to significantly help your fantasy team.
Technically, I wouldn’t say I’m quite as high on Melvin Gordon’s third-round price tag as some – earlier in dynasty/keeper formats, of course – but I cannot fault those who like the rookie as a promising RB2. I get the hype. Keenan Allen in the fourth round or so? I’m good with that. Healthier this season and with teammate Antonio Gates suspended over the first month, Allen is Philip Rivers’ de facto No. 1 receiver and could push 90 catches. Speaking of whom, you telling me that as the 14th quarterback off the board in many cases, Rivers isn’t well worth a 10th-round pick?
Before we move along, it helps to remember that slot receiver Eddie Royal and running back Danny Woodhead were responsible for a sizable portion of targets, receptions and receiving touchdowns in McCoy’s stint thus far. Woodhead returns after having his 2014 season cut short by leg injuries. He’s being drafted after the 12th round, on average, yet figures to have a pivotal role given his pass blocking headstart over Melvin Gordon and all-around value in third-down packages.
Typically available even later in drafts, veteran receivers Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson warrant consideration as well. I could easily see Johnson earning Rivers’ trust from the get-go, hauling in somewhere between 60 and 75 balls in his debut as a Charger. A possession receiver of Johnson’s acumen will come in handy, with Allen drawing bracket coverage. Floyd, meanwhile, is huge, seldom drops the ball, and has quietly been a mainstay since 2004. Since becoming more of a household name seven years ago, Malcom has churned out 662 receiving yards per season (17.4 per reception) and 27 touchdowns. Rivers loves targeting this guy downfield.
That brings us to San Diego’s murky tight end situation. Once news of Gates’ suspension broke, the future Hall of Famer slid from an average draft position in the middle rounds to essentially undrafted. In deeper leagues and in cases wherein you have a large enough bench to stash a player who won’t be producing right away, you owe it to yourself to weigh the pros and cons of drafting Gates. It has become trendy, however, to scrap Gates in favor of Ladarius Green. The unaccomplished young tight end has shown well occasionally, but engenders little confidence in fantasy owners. Be that as it may, Green could theoretically make the most of his opportunity and carve out a more ample role.
The aforementioned players all have their detractors in the fantasy football community. Why wait and take your chances on Rivers when you can grab more of a sure thing at quarterback in the third round? Why bother with Allen when elite receivers of minimal downside are still available to you halfway into the first round and probably well into the second round? Admittedly, taking a flyer on any of the long shots I’ve highlighted is a risky proposition. But my point is, for no more than Chargers cost in fantasy drafts this year, be it Gordon earlier or Green later, why not buy some stock in this offense?