The Los Angeles Chargers are teaming at the seam with Fantasy Football upside in 2023 as Justin Herbert is entering his prime, the offensive line and notably elite left tackle Rashawn Slater will be healthy and Kellen Moore is in town to jump start this offense like we haven't seen since Herbert's rookie season from a vertical standpoint. It's going to be exciting to watch this Chargers team in 2023, and you're going to like having exposure to them in Fantasy.
- AFC West: | |
Below the CBS Sports Fantasy staff will take a look into the Chargers' entire team outlook, including a burning question for Fantasy Football managers that needs to be answered, key player projections, a review of their draft class, strength of schedule, and individual player outlooks for notable Chargers players who may end up on your Fantasy rosters.
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Chargers 2023 team outlook
By Chris Towers
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 still questions about the weapons.
Burning question: Can 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 his 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.
Chargers player 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|
2023 NFL Draft class
Strength of Schedule rankings by Dave Richard
- QB PSoS: 21st easiest
- RB PSoS: 18th easiest
- WR PSoS: 23rd easiest
- TE PSoS: 16th easiest
|1||Sep 10, 2023||vsMiami||4:25 pm||SoFi Stadium|
|2||Sep 17, 2023||@Tennessee||1:00 pm||Nissan Stadium|
|3||Sep 24, 2023||@Minnesota||1:00 pm||FOX||U.S. Bank Stadium|
|4||Oct 1, 2023||vsLas Vegas||4:05 pm||SoFi Stadium|
|6||Oct 16, 2023||vsDallas||8:15 pm||ESPN||SoFi Stadium|
|7||Oct 22, 2023||@Kansas City||4:25 pm||GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium|
|8||Oct 29, 2023||vsChicago||8:20 pm||NBC||SoFi Stadium|
|9||Nov 6, 2023||@N.Y. Jets||8:15 pm||ESPN||MetLife Stadium|
|10||Nov 12, 2023||vsDetroit||4:05 pm||SoFi Stadium|
|11||Nov 19, 2023||@Green Bay||1:00 pm||FOX||Lambeau Field|
|12||Nov 26, 2023||vsBaltimore||8:20 pm||NBC||SoFi Stadium|
|13||Dec 3, 2023||@New England||1:00 pm||Gillette Stadium|
|14||Dec 10, 2023||vsDenver||4:25 pm||SoFi Stadium|
|15||Dec 14, 2023||@Las Vegas||8:15 pm||AMZN||Allegiant Stadium|
|16||Dec 23, 2023||vsBuffalo||8:00 pm||PEAK||SoFi Stadium|
|17||Dec 31, 2023||@Denver||4:25 pm||Empower Field at Mile High|
|18||Jan 7, 2024||vsKansas City||TBA||—||SoFi Stadium|
Chargers 2023 player outlooks
By Heath Cummings unless otherwise noted
QB Justin Herbert
Fantasy managers shouldn't draft Herbert where they did in 2022, but they should absolutely expect Herbert to be better than he was last year.
Part of that is because Kellen Moore took over as his offensive coordinator, and that's a big upgrade. Also, the team drafted Quentin Johnston in Round 1, strengthening the Chargers receiving corps. But the biggest reason is regression. Last year Herbert had a 3.6% touchdown rate, compared to a 5.4% rate in the first two years of his career. Last year he averaged 6.8 yards per attempt, compared to 7.4 in his first two years.
Those two dips alone cost him a whopping six Fantasy points per game. Draft him as a top-six QB and expect a big bounceback.
RB Austin Ekeler
Ekeler should be a first-round pick in the majority of Fantasy drafts this year, and he's one of a handful of running backs who could finish the season as RB1 overall without surprising anyone.
The two questions about Ekeler have to do with the team's new offense and Ekeler's age. The Chargers' star running back is 28 years old, which is very close to the cliff at this position. And Kellen Moore's offense has generally been more about downfield targets than running back targets. Last year, the Chargers led the NFL with a 26% RB target rate. Moore's Cowboys were at 15.8% last year (26th) and 18.6% in 2021 (20th).
Those questions aren't enough to bump Ekeler out of Round 1, but they should be enough to make you nervous in Dynasty.
RB Joshua Kelley
It is a crowded running back room behind Austin Ekeler, and for now, Kelley looks like the best bet to win the No. 2 job.
Kelley took that job over down the stretch in 2022 and played at least one-third of the snaps in each of the Chargers' last six games. At the very least, Kelley is worthy of a late-round pick just in case something happens to the 28-year-old Ekeler, but there's also a possibility he carves out a bigger role if Kellen Moore decides to split touches more like he did in Dallas with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Spiller will battle a crowded running back room to try to supplant Kelley as the RB2 in Los Angeles behind Ekeler. To do so, he's going to need to a lot better second season. Spiller only played in six games last year due partially to injury and only touched the ball 21 times in those six games. What's worse is that he was miserable on those 21 touches, averaging 2.6 yards per touch compared to 5.3 for Ekeler and 4.7 for Kelley.
Holding Spiller in Dynasty makes sense, at least through September, but he's irrelevant in redraft unless he beats out Kelley in training camp.
WR Keenan Allen
On a per-game basis, Allen was nearly as good as he's ever been last year. He averaged 75.2 yards per game, which was his best mark since 2017, and his 16.4 FPPG was his second-best mark since that year.
Allen was also above his career averages in yards per target and catch rate in 2022. In other words, the numbers don't really show any signs of Allen slowing down, despite the fact that he just turned 31 years old. Still, we'd feel more comfortable waiting until Round 4 to draft Allen this year as we see how he fits in Kellen Moore's new offense and how the arrival of Quentin Johnston impacts his target share.
WR Mike Williams
Over the past two seasons, Williams' 17-game pace is 81 catches for 1,196 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers would have made Williams a top-12 wide receiver last year.
Unfortunately, he's never actually played 17 games in a season and he's only played 16 twice in six years, and even when Williams has been active he's often been playing through something. He missed OTAs due to a back injury and the Chargers still aren't sure if Williams will need surgery for that injury. That may shed some light on why the team spent a first-round pick on Quentin Johnston, who could be a carbon copy of Williams in the NFL. Due to questions about his health and Johnston's impact on his target share, we wouldn't draft Williams before Round 7.
WR Quentin Johnston
If you're looking for a comp for Johnston, you could do worse than looking across the locker room at Mike Williams. Both are big-bodied receivers drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft who have had some separation and route-running question marks.
Williams averaged 71.7 yards per game at Clemson, and Johnston averaged 73 at TCU. The Chargers are hoping Johnston does a better job staying healthy, but they'd be thrilled if Johnston could give them what Williams has per game the last two years. In rookie drafts, Johnston is a surefire first-round pick in all formats who could go as early as No. 4 in one-QB leagues. In redraft, leave him for the double-digit rounds unless Williams misses time in training camp with his back injury.
WR Josh Palmer
Palmer took a major step forward in 2022, more than doubling his target, catch, and yardage totals from his rookie year.
We were expecting he would take another step forward in Year 3, but then the Chargers drafted Quentin Johnston in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. As the roster is currently constructed, Palmer looks locked in as WR4, and no better than sixth on the team in target share. That means you can leave Palmer on the redraft waiver wire until an injury or two opens up an opportunity.
He's a solid hold in Dynasty leagues as he's still just 24 years old and both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have extensive injury histories. It's quite possible Palmer replaces one of them in the starting lineup in 2024.
TE Gerald Everett
We view Everett as a TE2 who should not be drafted in the first 12 rounds of most Fantasy leagues, but it's not hard to make a sleeper case for him.
Kellen Moore is his offensive coordinator and Moore turned Dalton Schultz into a must-start option after reviving the ghost of Jason Witten for a borderline TE1 season. If you remove Week 15 when Everett only played 10 offensive snaps, he averaged 8.9 FPPG last year, which would have put him right in between Tyler Higbee and Cole Kmet despite the worst efficiency stats of his career.
Everett gets the Dolphins in Week 1, which could make him a popular streaming option for those who punt the position since the Dolphins were one of the worst teams in the league against tight ends last year.
Hooper will compete with rookie top-35 pick Michael Mayer and veteran O.J. Howard for snaps and targets in Las Vegas. Although projected starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo has generated production out of the tight end position throughout his career, Hooper hasn't given much reason for optimism that he can be a Fantasy asset. Hooper finished inside the top 12 at TE just twice in 2022 and one of those games featured two short touchdowns – his only two of the season. Hooper is best left undrafted.
Dicker and Dustin Hopkins will compete at training camp for the Chargers' starting kicker job. We lean towards Dicker winning the job, but whoever wins it should be in consideration for top-12 status on a Chargers team that should be in the top third of the league in scoring. The loser of the competition may just latch on with another team but can be dropped until he does.
Once again the Chargers defense is coming off an injury-riddled year where it underperformed preseason expectations. Once again, we're expecting this unit to be better than last year, with a consensus ranking inside the top 12. The team added Khalil Mack to rush the passer opposite Joey Bosa and added Eric Kendricks in free agency and Daiyan Henley in the draft to shore up the middle of their defense in front of a star-studded secondary that includes Derwin James and Asante Samuel Jr. The names are there to make this a top-five defense, maybe better. We'll draft this DST in the final round and hope that the game lives up to the names this year.