The Chargers were one of the biggest disappointments in the league in 2022, with Justin Herbert taking a step back that led to the ouster of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and the hiring of Kellen Moore. Expect a more aggressive version of the Chargers offense, though there are questions about the weapons still.
Record: 10-7 (8)
PPG: 23.0 (13)
YPG: 359.3 (9)
Pass YPG: 269.6 (3)
Rush YPG: 89.6 (30)
PAPG: 41.8 (2)
RAPG: 23.8 (28)
2022 Fantasy finishes
Number to know: 6.42
That was Justin Herbert's intended air yards per attempt last season, the third-lowest mark in the NFL. It made sense for Daniel Jones' mark to be that low, because he's a mediocre passer with pretty bad pass-catchers; ditto for Matt Ryan, who probably should have just been retired last season. There are some extenuating circumstances involved in Herbert's 2022 season too, of course, such as the fractured ribs he was playing through along with injuries to Williams and Allen. But still, Herbert has been stuck in conservative offenses for his whole career, which has been frustrating even if last year was a bit of an outlier.
That shouldn't be an issue with Kellen Moore taking over as offensive coordinator. His teams in Dallas consistently finished among the top-12 in pace, while ranking 11th overall in intended air yards per pass attempt over the past four seasons. Moore's former boss, Mike McCarthy, criticized him for wanting "to light the scoreboard up," but we're just fine with that strategy. Light 'em up, Kellen.
LB Eric Hendricks
36 carries, 13 RB targets, 92 WR targets, 4 TE targets
Rankings and projections
Chris Towers' projections
|QB||Justin Herbert||PA: 662, YD: 4636, TD: 31, INT: 13; RUSH -- ATT: 42, YD: 189, TD: 2|
|RB||Austin Ekeler||CAR: 189, YD: 850, TD: 8; TAR: 119, REC: 95, YD: 763, TD: 5|
|RB||Joshua Kelley||CAR: 84, YD: 361, TD: 3; TAR: 20, REC: 12, YD: 99, TD: 1|
|WR||Keenan Allen||TAR: 146, REC: 102, YD: 1071, TD: 7|
|WR||Mike Williams||TAR: 119, REC: 72, YD: 1016, TD: 7|
|WR||Quentin Johnston||TAR: 80, REC: 44, YD: 590, TD: 4|
|TE||Gerald Everett||TAR: 93, REC: 60, YD: 633, TD: 4|
Can Justin Herbert bounce back?
The key questions about this team revolve around Herbert and whether Kellen Moore can him back on track. I actually quite like the idea of taking a flier on Herbert a few rounds after Joe Burrow comes off the board. We should see a faster-paced version of the Chargers offense -- Moore's Cowboys ranked no worse than second in pace over the past three seasons -- with more downfield throws. Whether Keenan Allen and Mike Williams can still make defenses pay, or whether rookie first-rounder Quentin Johnston is ready to step up could determine how successful this offense ends up being.
One sleeper, one breakout and one bust
Johnston separates down the field well but didn't look great as a contested-catch guy in college, which is kind of surprising given his size and athleticism. Where he did thrive, however, was somewhere the Chargers offense could actually use a lot of help with: After the catch. Johnston is big and fast, and he was second in college football with 8.9 yards after the catch per reception, while the Chargers had just one wide receiver in the top 30 in YAC/R last year despite how rarely they threw the ball down the field. Johnston is likely to be a clear fourth on the target hierarchy as a rookie, but if he pops as a playmaker with the ball in his hands and consistently makes plays down the field, that's a pretty enticing combination in what could be one of the best passing offenses in the league.
The weapons are in place, and the switch in offensive coordinator should help everything come together nicely. Herbert has a huge arm, and they haven't taken full advantage of that. Now, he's got two big, vertically oriented receivers to throw two, with Ekeler and Allen working underneath to keep defenses honest. Herbert is one of the best bets for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns, and he's even shown some upside as a rusher -- he had eight touchdowns in his first two seasons and accounted for at least 45 Fantasy points each of those seasons as a runner before scoring just 14.7 last season. Herbert is one of the easiest bounce-back calls in Fantasy this season.
Allen was a top-12 WR in points per game in PPR, and he's been top-13 six straight seasons now, so I think he'll continue to be a terrific Fantasy option as long as he's healthy. But it gets harder to pencil in good health the older a player gets, and Allen's first half in 2022 was largely ruined by a hamstring injury, which is the concern here. He's already 31, and that's right around the age you start to worry about wide receivers falling off. Again, I'm fine drafting him where he is, for the most part, but there's a bit of a gap between where I have Allen projected (WR13) and where I'm ranking him (WR15) because of the risk.