Thursday, June 7, 2012

32 in 32: San Diego Chargers

It has been a busy few days, so my imaginary viewers have probably been lacking their fantasy advice.

Fantasy owners should rejoice in the fact that the Chargers let Mike Tolbert walk in free agency. The man was a mediocre fullback with halfback aspirations. Instead, the Chargers invested in a true fullback (Le'Ron McClain) who is a young, 260-pound wrecking ball, memorable for the 4 years he spent making holes for the running backs in Baltimore before going to Kansas City for a season. Just to give credit where it is due, Jacob Hester is a decent FB as well, but he doesn't have the same physical toughness that Le'Ron does. All of this is great news for the future of Ryan Matthews, who should gain more yards and sustain fewer injuries with Le'Ron clearing the way for him. The fullback might be a lost position on most teams, but the Chargers like to run the ball, and Matthews did record a stellar 4.9 yard-per-carry average last season. The very best news for Matthews is that Tolbert the Vulture is finally gone. Tolbert had 490 yards and 8 touchdowns on 121 carries last season, while Matthews had 1091 yards, but only 6 touchdowns on his 222 carries. That makes Matthews an elite fantasy back this season. I realize he is made of glass, but he is a much smaller risk than 'Run-DMC'. I am officially ranking Ryan Matthews ahead of Pocket Hercules, as of this moment. Amtthews might end up with 80 fewer carries, but should be competitive in yards, scores, and receiving yards this season. I think he beats MJD in 2 of those 3 categories. 

The sad news for the Chargers is that their 2nd and 3rd leading receivers in receptions (Vincent Jackson and Mike Tolbert) are gone this season. This should be good news for Matthews, who had 50 receptions and 455 receiving yards last season, and it should be good for Malcom Floyd, who is starting to look like the biggest WR1 steal of this fantasy season. In the last 3 seasons, Floyd has not broken the 45 reception mark and has not fallen below the 700 yard mark. If he can grab 60-70 passes, he should go for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. The other winner here is Antonio Gates, if the man can stay healthy. Gates will be a 4th or 5th round pick, but will probably push 1,000 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. His consistency is phenomenal, but his durability is waning. He is probably the 3rd or 4th best tight end this season, but I wouldn't be too surprised if he leaped over Gronkowski, with Aaron Hernandez finally healthy. If you want a tight end, don't worry about drafting Gates. He still has 1-2 more good seasons in him. As far as other receivers go, San Diego is one of the great crap-shoots in the league. This offseason they added Robert Meachem (not a solid #2 WR in my opinion), Roscoe Parrish (probably their WR4 after Meachem), and Eddie Royal (was unable to find himself after Cutler left Denver). I know they gave Meachem the bigger contract, but I really think Eddie Royal will beat him out for the #2 spot on the depth chart. Eddie Royal had more yards in his one year with Jay Cutler than Meachem had in any one year with Drew Brees throwing to him. Draft Eddie Royal late in your draft and laugh at the guy who drafts Meachem. 

This brings us to Philip Rivers. I hate Philip Rivers. I think he has a shitty attitude and a lousy personality. Even after last season, I still love him in fantasy. Quarterbacks have bad seasons, and while his receiving corps is completely new this year, Rivers is a strong enough passer to make up for it. Rivers has the potential to be a top 5 QB, but he needs to cut down on his mistakes from last season. If he can get 4,700 yards and 33 touchdowns he should be one of the better quarterbacks in the league, and you can probably grab him in the 5th or 6th round, thanks to his...wait, he posted 4,624 yards and 27 touchdowns last season? Well, public perception is a funny thing. Don't worry about drafting Rivers, it will make you look smart.

On the other hand, drafting the Chargers defense will make you look dumb, and I'm not sure if Kaeding or Novak will be the kicker at the end of camp, so I won't make a ruling on that front yet. This could be the most value-heavy team in the league.

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