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Player Outlooks (2023)
QB Justin Herbert: Herbert has already thrown the ball quite a bit with an average of 685.5 pass attempts over the past two seasons, but increased big-play potential should be the difference under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. In addition to the philosophy change, the Chargers also have another alien-type talent in first-rounder Quentin Johnston, and Herbert notably played through a rip injury for most of last season. If the rushing production climbs (which we’d expect due to improved health), there is overall QB1 upside for Herbert on a high-powered attack.
RB Austin Ekeler: The argument for Ekeler as an early first-round pick is easy to make, as he finished as the overall RB1 last season and the overall RB2 in 2021, and he’s shown no signs of slowing down entering his age-28 campaign. Plus, Ekeler is a hardcore fantasy football player himself, and the contract dispute was resolved in late May thanks to added incentives for him to reach—which erases any concern about a trade or holdout. We’ll see how offensive changes and everyone possibly staying healthy might impact things, but Ekeler has been a touchdown machine that should go early in all leagues.
RB Isaiah Spiller: Training camp and preseason action will be huge for Spiller this summer, and the second-year runner has the talent—particularly based on what he showed at Texas A&M—to earn meaningful snaps in 2023. Limited contributions as a rookie doesn’t need to be a death blow to the stock of a running back, and Spiller is still developing as a very young player that won’t turn 22 until early next month. He could either be a late-round target or remain a dynasty stash depending on progress shown when camp opens.
RB Joshua Kelley: Kelley is an option that should have a definite role for the Los Angeles backfield, as he’s a well-rounded back that was talked up by Kellen Moore at his introductory press conference. Last year, Kelley saw between 34-43% of the offensive snaps played over the final seven games of 2022 (including playoffs), and decisively holding off Spiller for the No. 2 job would boost his stock; a current consensus of RB63 is several spots too low either way.
WR Mike Williams: A frustrating high-ankle sprain—which Williams returned from after two missed games and then re-aggravated—made last season tough for fantasy owners, but we are still very optimistic about the six-foot-four target being a star with the ability to produce big-time WR1 numbers. Excluding his rookie season, Williams has averaged 16.0 yards per reception and 9.6 yards per target throughout his career, so staying healthy and having everything come together (including a double-digit touchdown season) can make Williams one of the summer’s best values with a consensus ranking that barely puts him in the top 30 at the position.
WR Keenan Allen: Allen is entering his age-31 season and dealt with hamstring issues that caused him to miss seven games last year, so there is concern about the veteran falling off on an offense that has plenty of playmakers. But to make the case for Allen, he is coming off a season in which he recorded his most receiving yards per game (75.2) since 2017 and his highest yards per target (8.4) since 2018, and perhaps the more aggressive offense will open up space for him to work underneath while also creating increased downfield opportunities. He should have his WR2 outlook boosted in PPR formats.
WR Quentin Johnston: The “run-after-catch element” was highlighted by the Chargers as reason for liking Johnston, and fantasy owners should fully understand his skillset with more of a “finesse” game rather than being a physical jump-ball winner despite a six-foot-three frame. That doesn’t mean Johnston can’t become an impact player, and he profiles like a Martavis Bryant-type weapon with outstanding feet and explosiveness for a player his size. He can quickly emerge if the injury-stricken offense has key targets miss time again.
WR Joshua Palmer: Palmer has been solid in two seasons since entering the league, but Los Angeles seems to have a desire for more “juice” on offense, which they will be getting in the form of the aforementioned Quentin Johnston. For those who want to believe, Palmer caught 41 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns in seven games with more than 90% of the snaps played last season, and the amount the Chargers are expected to pass should give room to others to contribute behind the star duo of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen.
WR Derius Davis: A fourth-round pick out of TCU, Davis is another weapon that will add explosiveness to the offense, but his primary contributions are expected to come in the return game. Overall, the best-case scenario for the rookie would be developing a connection with Justin Herbert similar to the one DeAndre Carter had—resulting in FLEX-worthy weeks if he sees expanded offensive snaps due to a string of injuries.
WR Jalen Guyton: Guyton suffered a torn ACL last September, but he was a very productive role player for LA in 2020 and 2021—going for respective lines of 28/511/3 and 31/448/3 while averaging 16.3 yards per reception. While he should make the team as a situational deep threat, it’ll likely take others missing time for Guyton to have redraft value.
TE Gerald Everett: Tight ends have combined for a total of 18 touchdowns for Dallas over the past two seasons, so the Chargers hiring Kellen Moore should at least be a positive for Everett in the red zone as teams focus on Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen. Everett being a tremendous run-after-catch option for the position also helps, but Los Angeles is very crowded at tight end with Donald Parham Jr. back, Tre’ McKitty perhaps ready to make a jump, and Stone Smartt being talked up last season, so he’s looking more like a midrange TE2.
TE Donald Parham Jr.: The touchdown production from tight ends under Moore should be a great boost for Parham—and he could easily find the end zone a handful of times with a six-foot-eight build making him a mismatch for linebackers and safeties. Parham can also benefit from the attention Mike Williams and others draw.
TEs Tre’ McKitty and Stone Smartt: McKitty was considered a developmental tight end despite being drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, so he’s an option that can emerge if given enough snaps this season. For Smartt, he was highlighted on Sunday Night Football as someone the Chargers really like, and he’ll try to earn a role after just four appearances in 2022.
Best IDP value: CB Asante Samuel Jr.
Samuel is one of the NFL’s best young cornerbacks and could soon explode for a big interception season like his father did multiple times throughout his career. The former second-round pick will be right in the middle of the action to begin the season with a matchup against the speedy Dolphins, and his confidence will be sky-high with another strong showing versus Tyreek Hill.
Stat to know (via draft guide)
Dating back to the 2021 season, Mike Williams has gone for lines of 8/82/1, 7/91/1, 8/165/2, 9/119/1, 8/113/1, 7/120, 10/134 and 7/94 in games with double- digit targets.