We all know that free agency and the draft change projections, reactions, and possibilities almost instantly. And the Los Angeles Chargers are no different…maybe?
With a projected $24,171,246 to spend in free agency and eight draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft hope abounds.
As fantasy football players we are always looking for the one or two players who will help us dominate. The Chargers pre-free agency projections suggest we don’t have to look very far (at least for those of us not playing in IDP leagues).
It is no longer a secret that Justin Herbert is pretty good. He not only finished the 2020 season as Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he also finished as one of the bright shining stars in fantasy football.
Herbert finished as QB9 according to fantasyfootballnerd.com. He averaged 21.28 fantasy points per game, with three passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns. And that was playing behind the 32nd ranked offensive line per Pro Football Focus end of season rankings.
There is reason to believe that there will be a regression in Herbert’s 2021 stats. Especially when looking at pre-free agency and the abysmal offensive line play. But expectations shouldn’t dip below QB15 projections, especially with Herbert’s ability to get into the end zone with his feet.
While there are three running backs under contract, only one really matters for fantasy football purposes, Austin Ekeler. Ekeler played 2020 hurt, giving him stats for only 10 games. He still finished as the highest fantasy ranking running back on the Chargers.
Ekeler finished as RB28 in PPR formats amassing 148.20 total fantasy points while averaging 16.47 fantasy points per game. The next best Chargers running back was Joshua Kelley. Kelley finished RB56 averaging 6.25 fantasy points per game.
But the real reason to be high on Ekeler pre-free agency is the comparisons new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has heaped upon him. Lombardi has compared Ekeler to Alvin Kamara. That is good news coming from a man who has spent most of his career with the New Orleans Saints.
Expect Ekeler to be utilized consistently in the passing game. PPR players should be targeting Ekeler as top 10 running back.
By the way, the number one running back in fantasy PPR formats for 2020? Kamara with 25.19 average fantasy points per game.
Regardless of the status of Mike Williams, the Chargers had four wide receivers in the top 100. Of course, we only want the top and that means we are targeting Keenan Allen. Allen finished 2020 as WR9 in PPR format per fantasyfootballnerd.com.
Allen had an 85% snap share with 147 targets. He ran routes out of the slot at a 50.7% rate. He finished the season with 100 receptions, 992 yards, 433 yards after the catch, and eight touchdowns.
This was with a rookie quarterback, subpar rushing game, and a porous offensive line. It is safe to say that Allen and Herbert were smashing the first-time together curve.
There is no reason to expect Allen to be lower than WR10 in PPR formats and top 15 in non-PPR scoring.
Here is where it gets dicey pre-free agency. Hunter Henry finished as TE8 in PPR formats. Henry played under the franchise tag last season.
Henry made $10.6 million under the tag last year. The Chargers have 16 unrestricted free agents and just over $23 million to spend. Is Henry a priority pre-free agency?
Regardless of where Henry lands he should be a tight end priority for your fantasy fortunes.
Playing in 14 games in 2020, Henry was targeted 93 times for 60 receptions. He averaged 10.38 fantasy points per game in PPR and 6.1 fantasy points per game in non-PPR formats.
According to CBS fantasy, based on touchdowns, Henry finished 12th among tight ends, and based on points per game he finished 10th.
In a shallow tight end pool, Henry is always in play.
Pre-free agency the Chargers are stacked with fantasy options. Let’s just hope the new coach and new offensive coordinator realize it.
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