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Los Angeles Chargers 2021 Fantasy Football Preview

Are we getting too hyped about the Chargers offense this year? Here's a breakdown of the roster for fantasy this season.

It has been a long time since the Super Bowl, and remembering exactly how things left off last year can be a challenge. So, I’ll be writing up a fantasy preview for each NFL team to give us a quick refresher on what happened last year, and what changes took place in the offseason. All fantasy stats will be in ESPN scoring format unless otherwise noted. 

If I missed any change or left out any big notes, throw them down in the comments for me

What Did They Do Last Year

The Los Angeles Chargers had a surprisingly good season with rookie Justin Herbert called in to action after team doctors punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung before Week 2 in 2020. Herbert surprised a lot of people when he came in and immediately looked rather comfortable running the offense. 

Head coach Anthony Lynn was fired after his fourth season as Chargers HC, and for 2021, the Chargers will have a completely new coaching staff. Former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley steps in as head coach. Former New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi is the new OC, and Renaldo Hill, former defensive backs coach for several teams, most recently the Denver Broncos, will be the DC. 

During the offseason, the Chargers made it clear that the offensive line is a priority. They signed former Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley, guard Matt Feiler from the Pittsburgh Steelers, journeyman guard Oday Aboushi, and drafted Rashawn Slater in the first round, pick No. 13 overall. 

What the Chargers didn’t do may be more telling to us for fantasy…

10Justin Herbert153965954,3363110552345328.821.9
62Tyrod Taylor116302080067099
79Easton Stick1114001-2000

Herbert finished as the QB10 in both points per game and overall scoring. Herbert had some huge games against soft opponents like the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he threw for 347 yards, 3 touchdowns, no picks, and ran the ball 9 times for 66 yards and a touchdown.  

While there is room for improvement, Herbert showed, throughout an entire season (not just 3-4 games, looking at you Jalen Hurts and Drew Lock and so on…) that he’s both NFL and fantasy football worthy. 

Unfortunately, according to Fantasy Football Calculator ADP, Herbert is currently the QB6. That puts Herbert ahead of Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford… that is just too danged high for redraft leagues for my liking. Our group rankings has Herbert as the QB7 this year, but I personally have him down as QB10.

Wide Receivers
1318Keenan Allen141471009928143.110.2243.117.36
4741Mike Williams1485487565105.77.6153.710.98
8269Jalen Guyton165528511369.14.397.16.07
9684Tyron Johnson112620398359.55.479.57.23
167173K.J. Hill51177307.31.514.32.86
182166Joe Reed310008.938.92.97

Here is where what the Chargers did not do is perhaps more interesting than the moves they made. The Chargers did not draft a receiver until the third round, taking Josh Palmer of Tennessee. My go-to draft analyst Matt Waldman, of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, believes Palmer is more someone for us to keep an eye on rather than to go out and buy for this year in redraft. 

What that all means to me is that we can, again, expect Keenan Allen to see a ton of targets. He is currently going as the WR9 in half point PPR, and that feels about right for a very safe, not exceptionally exciting pick. He’s ranked WR7 in our rankings for 2021.

Running Backs
2535Austin Ekeler10116530165544032111.311.1165.316.53
6063Joshua Kelley1311135422423148058.24.581.26.25
6972Justin Jackson85927002419173044.35.563.37.91
108105Gabe Nabers82707525215.21.920.22.53
109116Troymaine Pope41576010842011.8319.84.95

The Chargers did nothing to indicate Austin Ekeler will not be the lead back in 2021, and this is causing some to get completely out of hand with the Ekeler hype. 

Ekeler is currently going off the board as the RB11, ahead of Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The hype is already out of hand for a back who is, no doubt, immensely talented, but 4 years in to his career his highest rush attempts total is 132. 

In Ekeler’s high water mark season (2019), he was targeted 108 times by Phillip Rivers. Rivers has consistently targeted his running backs and made everyone better for it. Last year, for example, the Indianapolis Colts running backs had the third-most receptions, leading to a little Nyheim Hines breakout. 

Ekeler is an excellent back, and in PPR he could be a sneaky good later round pick for you, but the current middle-of-the-second round cost is too high for Ekeler. I have Ekeler as my RB11 this year in .5PPR.

Take your pick of Josh Kelley or Justin Jackson if you want to mine some value from the Chargers backfield. 

Tight End
1214Hunter Henry149260613485.36.1145.310.38
5144Donald Parham102010159333.93.443.94.39
7975Virgil Green463501112.8143.5
7676Stephen Anderson3118106010.63.518.66.2

Hunter Henry saw a ton of targets from the rookie Herbert, but Henry has moved on the New England Patriots. The Chargers brought in journeyman Jared Cook, but he’s nothing more than a streaming option at this point in his career. 

Establish the Run’s Adam Levitan has been a big Donald Parham fan for a while, so he’s on my list of late-round flyers for this season.

The Schedule

Warren Sharp’s strength of schedule work is must-read material year in and year out. This year, he has the Chargers looking at a middle of the road schedule, 17th easiest using project wins total. While there are not a lot of cream-puffs on the schedule for the Chargers, they do close out hosting the Kansas City Chiefs, at Houston Texans, and then hosting the Broncos.

Additional Notes

Anthony Lynn’s offense was uninspiring, but getting too excited about Joe Lombadi’s new offense might be disappointing. We haven’t seen a ton of success from Lombardi away from the Saints, but sometimes people learn. Perhaps Lombardi’s struggles in Detroit will turn into fireworks for the Chargers?

What Does It All Mean?!?! (AKA – Bold predictions)

The Chargers key players are a bit over-priced for me at the moment. This is certainly a team on the come-up, but the hype is getting out of hand. I’ll be bargain shopping the Chargers bit-players, but likely to pass on the big names this year. 


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