LA Chargers News

Fantasy outlook: Chargers running backs

Jul 30, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs during a drill in training camp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 30, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) runs during a drill in training camp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit

The San Diego 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 in 2015.

With the return of offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, we shall expect the offense to return to their 2013 playoff form, which was all about establishing the run.

Let’s take a look at the Chargers’ offense in 2015 compared to what it was in 2013:

2015: 22nd in the league with 393 rush attempts; Second in the league with 667 pass attempts

2013: Sixth in the league with 486 rush attempts; 22nd in the league with 544 pass attempts

Under 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 where it was in 2013. With that being said, let’s take a look at the Chargers’ running backs and their outlook for fantasy this upcoming season.

Danny Woodhead

Woodhead was a fantasy sweetheart for owners who drafted him last season, especially in PPR leagues. Let’s take a look at where Woodhead finished in terms of total fantasy points in standard and PPR (point per reception) leagues the past three years.

2015: 10th overall running back in standard leagues (163.1 points); third overall running back in PPR leagues (244.1 points)

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2014: Woodhead played only three games after suffering a season-ending ankle injury

2013: 19th overall running back in standard leagues (147.4 points);12th overall running back in PPR leagues (223.4 points) 

All the stars aligned for Woodhead to have a career year in 2015.

  • The offensive line could not stay healthy as they used 24 different combinations. This forced the Chargers to throw numerous swing passes to Woodhead out of the backfield, basically running through the air.
  • Woodhead benefited from the poor play of rookie running back Melvin Gordon.
  • Branden Oliver suffered a turf toe injury in Week 8, which forced him to miss the rest of the season.
  • Keenan Allen suffering a lacerated kidney in Week 8, which forced him to miss the rest of the season, too.

Woodhead is currently being drafted as the 35th overall running back in standard 10-team leagues and the 20th overall running back in 10-team PRR leagues, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. Woodhead should have similar production to his 2013 season when he finished as the 19th overall running back in standard leagues and the 12th overall running back in PPR leagues.

Woodhead may not be a sexy pick come draft day, but he is a pretty safe bet to finish as a top-20 running back regardless of the league format. It is safe to say that Woodhead could be drafted as early as Round 5 in both formats.

PROJECTION: 

82 carries for 317 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 77 receptions for 630 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns; 142.7 fantasy points in standard leagues; 219.7 fantasy points in PPR leagues

 

Melvin Gordon

Gordon had a rough rookie season, which came to an end when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 15. The offensive line had much to do with Gordon’s poor play as he was hit immediately when he touched the ball. Gordon was over-drafted last season in fantasy football as the hype train became out of control for the former Wisconsin Badger.

Gordon was drafted as early as Round 3 last season and was a big bust in 2015. He is currently being drafted as the 27th running back in standard leagues and the 32nd running back in PPR leagues, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com.

Whisenhunt had a workhorse back in 2013 in Ryan Mathews, who had his best season as a Charger that year. Let’s take a look at what Mathews did that season under Whisenhunt:

  • Mathews had 285 carries with 1,255 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.
  • Mathews also caught 26 passes on 33 targets, which resulted in 189 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.
  • Mathews finished as the 12th-best running back in standard leagues (184.4 points) and the 17th-best running back in PPR leagues (210.4).

The best-case scenario for Gordon would be a similar season that Mathews had in 2013. With that being said, I do not see that happening. The offensive line has to improve significantly for Gordon to have a season similar to Mathews’ 2013 season.

I am optimistic for Gordon, and the only place to go from here is up. What have the Chargers done to help Gordon in 2016?

  • The addition of center Matt Slauson will hopefully have a huge impact on the entire offensive line, which would lead to a successful running game.
  • The Chargers drafted fullback Derek Watt from Wisconsin to help create lanes for Gordon. Watt blocked for Gordon when he averaged 7.5 yards per carry and racked up 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2014 at Wisconsin.

Gordon could return great value if drafted in the seventh round or later in both formats. He is currently being drafted in the seventh round in standard leagues and in the eighth round in PPR leagues, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com

PROJECTION:

241 carries for 1,011 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns, 40 receptions for 204 yards and 1 receiving touchdown; 163.5 fantasy points in standard leagues; 203.5 fantasy points in PPR leagues

facebooktwitterreddit