The Chargers were a one-dimensional offense in 2015, ranking second in the NFL in pass attempts (667) behind only the Baltimore Ravens. While that may have made the Chargers’ offense predictable for opposing defenses, it benefited fantasy owners who owned Chargers’ pass catchers.
With the return of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, we shall expect the offense to become less predictable than it was in 2015. Whisenhunt will certainly do his best to get the running game back to what it once was, but the passing game will certainly be a weapon as long as Philip Rivers is under center. Let’s take a look at the Chargers’ top three wide receivers and their outlook for fantasy football this upcoming season.
PPR Scoring: 10-team league, 1 point per 10 yards receiving, 1 point per reception, 6 points per touchdown
Standard Scoring: 10-team league, 1 point per 10 yards receiving, 6 points per touchdown
In 2013, when Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator for the Chargers, Keenan Allen finished the season with 71 receptions, 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. Allen accumulated those numbers while only starting in 14 games. Allen was a rookie in 2013, and has emerged as one of the best
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possession receivers in the NFL since then. Allen hauled in 67 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns in eight games last year before being placed on IR. That maps out over 16 games to be 134 receptions, 1,450 yards and eight touchdowns, which would have made him the sixth-best receiver in PPR leagues last season behind only Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr.. In standard leagues, Allen would have finished as the seventh-best receiver behind only Brown, Jones, Brandon Marshall, Allen Robinson, Beckham Jr. and Hopkins. In PPR leagues, Allen is currently being drafted as the 16th overall player and the ninth receiver taken. In standard leagues, Allen is being drafted as the 19th overall player and the ninth receiver taken, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com.
Allen is a solid second-round pick for your team whether you are in a PPR league or a standard league. Barring injury, Allen should easily be a top-10 fantasy wide receiver at the conclusion of the season in both formats. He will be a focal point of the Chargers’ offense, as Whisenhunt made note of in May. This is what Whisenhunt had to say about Allen:
“He’s grown. He obviously understands the game, the speed and what he has to do. The one thing that shows up all the time is that he makes plays. But he is at the point now where this is an important year because he’s going to be a focal point. He is going to have to win one-on-one matchups. That is something that is a real testament to a receiver.”
That is great to hear for fantasy owners, and it makes drafting Allen that much easier.
Keenan Allen Fantasy Football Projection: 131 receptions, 1,417 yards, 10 touchdowns; 332 fantasy points in PPR leagues; 201 fantasy points in standard leagues
Travis Benjamin was a hot waiver-wire pickup in fantasy football last season and was brought in to San Diego to give the Chargers’ offense a much-needed deep threat after the retirement of Malcom Floyd. Benjamin signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Chargers this offseason because he “wanted to play with a better quarterback.” Benjamin had 68 receptions for 966 yards and five touchdowns for the Browns last season, and did this catching passes from Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown.
Benjamin should be able to put up similar, if not better numbers in 2016 with Rivers throwing him the ball. The difference is Benjamin will not be the focal point of this Chargers’ offense.
Benjamin is currently being drafted in 10-team leagues as the 116th overall player and the 46th wide receiver taken in standard leagues. In PPR leagues, Benjamin is being drafted as the 116th overall player and the 47th wide receiver drafted, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Benjamin will be a solid bench player for your fantasy team, and you will be pleased with his production as long as you start him in the right matchup.
Expect Benjamin to be a hit-or-miss fantasy option, having big games here and there. The hardest decision will be whether or not it is the week to start him. Benjamin will be an excellent bye week replacement as well as a fantastic daily fantasy option, because when he hits, I expect him to hit big.
Travis Benjamin Fantasy Football Projection: 67 receptions, 974 yards, 7 touchdowns; 206 fantasy points in PPR leagues;139 fantasy points in standard leagues.
Stevie Johnson had all his fantasy production come in 12 games in 2015 due to a groin injury that ended his season. Johnson had 45 catches for 497 yards and three touchdowns last season. Johnson should look to be on the field in most three-receiver sets this season, and he will do most of his work underneath. Johnson is being overlooked in early drafts, going undrafted in most formats. He has proved to be a steady fantasy option and could be a nice bench player in 10-team PPR leagues.
Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
However, due to his lack of touchdown production, Johnson is not the best standard league receiver to target, but he is definitely a solid bench receiver in deeper leagues. The cards are aligned for Johnson to have a solid NFL season, but for fantasy, there may be better options in a 10-team league.
Stevie Johnson Fantasy Football Projection: 51 receptions, 501 yards, 4 touchdowns; 125 fantasy points in PPR leagues; 74 fantasy points in standard leagues.