Entering 2020 this Chargers team just has the feel of a team going (7-9) or (8-8) at best. The defense isn’t going to be good enough to carry the offense, which figures to look differently than last season. The offensive line which ranked towards the bottom of the league last season really wasn’t improved much over the offseason. The team did pick up Bryan Bulaga who will slide in as the new starting LT. Mike Pouncey will return as he appears to be closer to healthy than injured. Trai Turner figures to get the nod at RG over Forrest Lamp who has been a letdown since entering the league. This offensive line will still be ranked somewhere between the 20-32 range at seasons end. Shane Steinchen has a tough task ahead as he enters his first full season as an offensive coordinator. The offensive scheme will look a bit different than it did in 2019, as the team will look to run their version of the Baltimore Ravens attack with Tyrod Taylor. Steinchen will look to scale the offense in this season as they will run more 12 personnel, two tight end sets.
Tyrod Taylor/Justin Herbert (QB) – Taylor will get the start over the rookie this season, at least for the first part. As mentioned above the Chargers will look to run a similar offense to Baltimore where they will utilize Taylor as a runner. Taylor will arguably have the most talent he has ever had around him as a starter. HC Anthony Lynn has expressed on a number of occassions this off season that Taylor is the starter and just not a bridge gap quarterback. Lynn also said as far a rookie Justin Herbert they will practice patience with him. This signals to us that the team is comfortable running the offense through Taylor. However, when a switch does occur the offense will still be able to run the same scheme, as Herbert has the same running chops as Taylor.
Fantasy Spin: We envision Taylor likely getting half the starts this season. With that said his running ability will offer some weekly streaming opportunities as Taylor fits that streamer mold in single quarterback leagues. We have Taylor ranked as our 35th quarterback in redraft entering 2020. Herbert comes in as our 28th ranked quarterback in redraft. Herbert’s dynasty stock is higher as we view him as a back end QB2, as our 22nd quarterback in that format.
Austin Ekeler/Justin Jackson/Joshua Kelley (RB) – Ekeler is slotted as the lead back by many in the industry now that Gordon is in Denver. This is a safe assumption to make as Ekeler had his best season as a pro, shocking many in the fantasy world as he finished top 5 at the position. The thing we have to be careful of is the volume. Ekeler never really was known for his volume, especially as a runner, as he isn’t built for the punishment that comes with it. Ekeler likely will see no more than 150 carries in 2020, as the team will look to limit his workload and keep him fresh. He will mainly be used as a pass catcher. This means he will be splitting work with the other two backs on the roster. That leads us to Justin Jackson who has looked fantastic when given the chance; recall the end of 2018 season, when he was making plays in both the passing game and rushing game. He will likely be in an off season battle with 4th round pick Joshua Kelley who could be heavily involved as a rookie. Kelley can be defined as a strength and size grinder. Whoever emerges from this battle between Jackson and Kelley will have some significant fantasy value as they project to be the early down back, and compliment to Ekeler.
Fantasy Spin: Ekeler offers the most upside in this backfield and can be viewed as a high end RB2 in redraft as we have him ranked as our 13th running back. In dynasty he can be viewed as a back end RB1 as he ranks as our 12th running back. We are leaning towards Jackson winning the battle with Kelley, making him the early down back and compliment to Ekeler. So with that said we have Jackson ranked as a RB4. In dynasty formats however, we have Kelley ranked ahead of Jackson as we feel he should emerge and be a significant part of this offense. We have Kelley ranked as our 55th running back in dynasty and Jackson our 64th ranked running back.
Keenan Allen/Mike Williams/KJ Hill (WR)
With the team looking likely to go more tight end heavy on the field there really is only three receivers we are interested in. Actually if you look at the depth chart, this position could be considered an area of weakness for the Chargers, as past the three mentioned here, there really isn’t much depth. Keenan Allen still will be the teams lead dog at the position as he has rebounded nicely from a career that was riddled with injury. He has been a constant in this offense for the last several years and has been very productive as the teams WR1. Mike Williams is the team’s deep threat and field stretcher. Williams is the big play guy compared to Allen being the volume guy. The third receiver who projects to see some work this season as a rookie is Ohio State product KJ Hill. Hill projects as a pure slot guy to us. Prior to the draft he was garnering some buzz but essentially during the draft fell further than most thought he would. Hill has gone on record to say he will use this as motivation to prove the teams that passed on him wrong for doing so.
Fantasy Spin: All of these guys draft stock took a hit when Phil Rivers left town, as they are now going to play with a scrambling quarterback and a rookie in 2020. Allen comes in as the safest play for us out of this group for fantasy in 2020. We have Allen as our 24th ranked wide receiver entering 2020 making him a backend WR2. In Dynasty Allen comes in as our 22nd ranked wide receiver. Williams ranks 40th in redraft rankings and 46th in dynasty making him a backend WR4 in both formats. KJ Hill doesn’t offer any immediate value for fantasy in 2020 and dynasty we view him as the 108th ranked wide receiver.
Hunter Henry (TE) – enters his fifth year as a pro. Henry has flashed upside in his career thus far but has battled injury after injury which is always going to be a concern. To put this concern into perspective, out of 64 possible games Henry has only played in 41, meaning he has missed 23 games during his first four years. When he is right and can play he can be one of the best in the league, so is likely why the Chargers franchise tagged the young tight end this past March. Henry boasts a healthy 8.9 yards a target which is up there with the league’s best.
Fantasy Spin: The injury and quarterback concerns are real for Henry entering 2019. He proved in 2019 despite an offense which had a down year and missing 4 games he is still a top tight end in the league. Henry was able to finish as the TE9 in half PPR leagues, as he put up a 55/652/5 line. Entering 2020 we view Henry as a mid-back end TE1, as he comes in as our 8th ranked tight end in redraft. In dynasty leagues he can also be viewed as a TE1 as we have him ranked as our 8th ranked tight end.
Defense – allowed on average 20.2 points a game, ranking 12th in that category for 2019. On paper this defense is stacked on all levels so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why this unit can’t be dominant. The unit’s struggles began up front in 2019, despite having two very good edge rushers, when they couldn’t get any pass rush generated. This was evident with their 5th worse sack total (30). They were 11th worse in interceptions only snagging 11 last year. The team wanted an upgrade here so was able to snag Chris Harris Jr. away from their division rival Broncos. The biggest area of need for this defense last season was at linebacker, which they addressed in the draft by selecting Kenneth Murray out of Oklahoma. This was a big addition as Murray likes to hunt ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage, meaning we could see Gus Bradley dialing up more blitzes despite his heavy cover 3 usage.
Fantasy Spin: Despite ranking towards the bottom in forced turnovers and sacks this unit still somehow ranked 6th in total defense. With the talent on that side of the ball they should be a top tier unit entering 2020. We have the unit ranked as our 12th fantasy defense making them a borderline set it and forget it defense. This is only if all key components can stay healthy, which hasn’t been the case the last several years.
Strength of Schedule
The Chargers wide receiver corps will face the 4th easiest schedule this fantasy regular season. Their playoff schedule will be the easiest during weeks 14-16. Ekeler and company will be looking at the 7th toughest schedule during the fantasy regular season. The backs will then have the 2nd toughest schedule during the fantasy playoffs. Taylor will face the 8th easiest schedule during the fantasy regular season, and the 11th easiest during weeks 14-16. Henry will face the 9th toughest fantasy regular season schedule, and will face the 8th toughest playoff schedule from weeks 14-16.