Latest ESPN rankings highlight sobering reality for the Chargers in 2024

And you thought last season's supporting cast was bad...
Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

There is a lot of anticipation around the LA Chargers heading into the 2024 season thanks to new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has won everywhere he has coached in his career, which has fans over the moon for what could come in the next five years.

Some view the Chargers as an instant turnaround candidate just because of the massive upgrade at head coach. Going from Brandon Staley to Harbaugh is as big of an upgrade as a team can have and with an easy schedule, it is not hard to see why Chargers fans are drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid.

Harbaugh is going to have to do some of the best coaching of his career to live up to the expectations that some fans have. As great as Harbaugh is, this Chargers roster is still very depleted heading into the 2024 season.

It is always easy to look at the glass-half-full as a fan of the team so it becomes imperative to get an impartial point of view. That is exactly what ESPN's Bill Barnwell provided when ranked each NFL team's playmakers ahead of the 2024 season (subscription required). These rankings, unfortunately, gave Chargers fans a reality check.

Chargers rank dead last in ESPN playmaker rankings

After ranking in the top five a year ago in the same rankings, the Chargers find themselves as the 32nd-ranked team in the league. As sobering as that is, it is not hard to see why every other team in the league is ranked ahead of the Bolts.

The playmaker rankings take into account the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends on every single roster. Heading into last season, the Chargers had one of the best WR duos in the league, a promising rookie first-round WR, a dual-threat touchdown machine at running back and an above-average pass-catching TE1.

Los Angeles does not even come close to having that heading into the 2024 season. Sure, if we look at the glass-half-full and assume the absolute best will happen then it is easier to sell ourselves on the playmakers on the roster. But in reality, there are far more unknowns that should worry Chargers fans.

The wide receiver room is the worst in the sport. Joshua Palmer is the penciled-in WR1 and he would be a WR3 on most teams. Ladd McConkey is a rookie with potential and while he is in a great situation to succeed, the hit rate on second-round wide receivers is not as high as fans may want to admit.

That same promising first-round wide receiver is now on bust watch and the rest of the wideout room is filled with unknowns. The Kansas City Chiefs have been dissected in recent years for awful wide receiver rooms and this Chargers room is even worse.

Running back is fine if everything goes as planned but as the NFL reminds us every year, things never go as planned. Both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins have massive injury concerns. Isaiah Spiller has not proven anything in two seasons and as promising as Kimani Vidal is, he is a rookie day-three pick.

The tight end room consists of a blocking tight end who doesn't really catch passes (Will Dissly), a tight end who has battled injuries and hasn't produced at a high clip in years (Hayden Hurst) and a red-zone specialist who hasn't been the most durable (Donald Parham). It is hard to fully buy into that room, too.

There is not a single field-tilter in any of those position groups. Sure, McConkey might be able to produce at a high clip as a rookie but will he be able to fundamentally change the trajectory of a game? Probably not.

If the Chargers are going to be a winning team in 2024 then it is going to take Harbaugh and Herbert elevating everyone around them to unforeseen heights. Because talent-wise, this team simply is not good enough yet.