For another season, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams appear to make up the Chargers' share of viable fantasy wideouts. This time around, however, will there be shuffling on that list? In this piece, we'll detail exactly what that means.
Fantasy analysis comprises the weighing of "talent" with the influence of a player's environment around them. Offensive weapons are relatively dependent on things like their quarterback, play calling, game scripts and weekly matchups.
Some are more "stable" than others, but collectively, they aid in projecting out a season. As players come and go, opportunities flow with them. Are there areas of production up for grabs?
The Chargers' red-zone offense will play a huge role in the fantasy output of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
According to PFF data, free-agent TE Jared Cook accounted for 11.5% of the Chargers' red-zone targets in 2021. Furthermore, he tied Keenan Allen for the second-highest end zone target share (18.8%). It may not seem like a whole lot, but this is a significant amount of opportunities available for either a new or familiar face.
Mike Williams led the Bolts offense in both categories last season. The newly paid wideout accounted for over a quarter of the team's red zone targets (26.1%), along with a 29.2% team end zone target share.
Allen still had a team-high in overall target share (23.9%). But the uptick of Williams' imprint on the weekly game plan is undeniable since Justin Herbert took office. Volume is king, especially in points per reception (PPR) formats.
If Allen's usage remains constant, it's logical to project him as the Chargers' top fantasy receiver in 2022. On the flip side, if you're bullish on Williams and weigh heavily on his connection with Herbert continuing to manifest, this fantasy dilemma becomes quite fascinating.
As this Herbert-rookie contract era continues, we start to get a clearer picture of how the Allen/Williams tandem will shape out. Their relationship has begun to remind me of Tampa Bay's duo in Chris Godwin/Mike Evans.
Although Godwin is younger and a bit shiftier than the 30-year-old Allen, consistency within their respective offenses breeds similarities. Likewise, the 6'5 Evans and Williams are larger jump ball targets from inside the red zone and from "deep" range (20+ yards downfield). Over the last two seasons, Evans (22%), Godwin (10.6%), and Williams (25.1%), Allen (7.6%), show clear divergence in deep target rate among teammates.
Nobody knows exactly how the wideouts will stack up against one another come the start of fantasy season. Any variable between now and week 1 could swoop in to derail or enhance their 2022 outlook. What we do know, however, are the reasons both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams should be on your radar as fantasy drafts chug along.