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2023 Team Preview: Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers

2022 Season Recap

Record: 10-7 (2nd in AFC West)

Points For: 391 (13th )

Points Against: 384 (21st)

Off-Season Roster Recap

Additions:  WR Keelan Doss, RB Aaron Shampkin, C Will Clapp DT Nick WIliams LB Tanner Muse LB Eric Kendricks

Losses:   RB Sony Michel , K Dustin Hopkins , LB Tyreek Maddox-Williams S Nasir Adderley

Draft Recap Offense: (21st) WR Quentin Johnston (125th) WR Derius Davis, (156th) OT Jordan McFadden, (239th) QB Max Duggan

Draft Recap Defense ( 54th) DL Tuli Tuipulotu, (85th) LB Daiyan Henley, (200th) DT Scott Matlock

2023 Outlook

The Los Angeles Chargers are a franchise that has historically has yielded a bevy of fantasy darlings.  The franchise has had greats like Dan Fouts, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers and now Justin Herbert.   LaDanian Tomlinson, Antoino Gates, Junior Seau have given way to Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams with Quentin Johnston waiting in the wings.

This year the Chargers have renewed optimism, as offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is moving over from the Dallas Cowboys and looks to make this enticing offense even sweeter.  His feverous pace is something the Chargers have not had recently under Joe Lombardi.   Moore’s offenses in Dallas were amongst the highest scoring in the league and also one of the most friendly for fantasy scoring.  Ascending superstar QB Justin Herbert will love the addition of 1st round draft pick WR Quentin Johnston that adds another layer to this exciting passing attack.  Although Dak Prescott has been a successful fantasy football quarterback, there’s no denying the upgrade Moore now has in Herbert.   The former 6th overall pick from Oregon finished 3rd in completion percentage and has some mobility to his game as well; Herbert had eight rushing touchdowns his first two seasons in the league.   However, Herbert has room to improve.  Herbert’s Adjusted Yards per pass attempt was only 6.9, good for 17th best in the league, and yards gained per pass attempt was an astonishingly low 9.9 yards, which was 29th in the league.  By comparison, Dak Prescott was 21st and 17th , respectively in those areas.   

The Chargers run game goes through Austin Ekeler as the 28 year old back once again looks to be one of the top scoring running backs in fantasy, due to his tremendous volume and target share.  He’s had at least 200 carries in the two seasons without Melvin Gordon in the backfield, and seen at least 50 targets in six of his seven NFL seasons.   Unlike most backfields in today’s NFL, Ekeler has very little in the way of touches for not only carries but targets as well.  Isaiah Spiller and Joshua Kelley have been… adequate but not enough to siphon meaningful work away from Ekeler.  The Chargers running backs were targeted a league high 26% in 2022, will this number remain high with the new play caller?   If the Dallas backfield over the past four seasons is any indication, the running backs are looking at anywhere from 90-110 targets.  A repeat RB1 finish in Fantasy Football?  Rare.  But if anyone can do it, it’s Ekeler.

The steady and somewhat underrated Keenan Allen and Mike WIlliams will soak up targets as usual, although a slight shift may go to rookie Quentin Johnson.  From Week 12 on last season, Allen finished as the WR 5 in PPR scoring.   Reports out of camp have Allen deployed all over the field, in both the slot and outside to create mismatches and one on one situations.  The universally undervalued Mike Williams also stands to thrive in a more pass friendly offense.  The 28 year old first round pick has a 10 touchdown season, and two 1,000 yard seasons to his name, and was on his way to a career high in yards had he played all 17 games.  He posted his best catch percentage of his career last year ( 67.7% )  Rounding out the pass catchers are first round pick from TCU Quentin Johnston, who appears to be the heir apparent in this offense, once Allen and Williams’ careers come to a close.  Joshua Palmer and Gerald Everett were targeted a total of 194 times last year and have appeal in deeper leagues and best ball formats.  

Defensively, the Chargers as a whole had issues in 2022 but have some excellent IDP pieces, such as Derwin James, Khalil Mack and Nick Bosa.  Bosa missed significant time in 2022 but Mack finished with 8 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss.  James had another strong Pro Bowl season, finishing with 115 tackles, forcing two fumbles and even registering 4 sacks.  The Chargers secondary was stingy, allowing the second fewest completions and sixth fewest yards allowed.   However the run defense was abysmal allowing a league high 5.4 Yards Per Carry and the fifth most yards on the ground.  The silver lining to a bad defense?   Plenty of chances to score in back and forth, high scoring games.  

The early season schedule is a thing of beauty.   Not only do the Chargers have built in shootouts versus AFC West rivals Kansas City, Las Vegas and Denver, they get the miserable VIkings defense Week 4, a revenge game for Kellen Moore vs Dallas Week 6, a Bears defense Week 8 that was the worst vs the pass in 2022, and a still potentially still shaky Lions defense Week 10.

Alas, a fairly easy schedule during the regular season gives way to a gauntlet during the Fantasy playoffs; Home vs Denver and Buffalo and a trip to Denver in the last four weeks of the regular season could doom your team when you need them most.   

Given the age of players such as Allen, Williams and Ekeler, if your team is on the outside of the fantasy playoffs looking in, it could be time to trade these players in a dynasty setting.  

I am very excited for the Chargers passing game this year, I can see the trio of Herbert, Allen and Williams all setting career highs in their respective categories.  Austin Ekeler signed a one year deal to remain in L.A for one more season, meaning he’s chasing a big pay day from either the Chargers or another franchise in 2024.  The Chargers have the tall task of keeping up with the elites of the AFC, and the only way to do that is to score points.   

Lots of points.  Buckle up.

Chargers 2023 Opponents 

Week 1 vs Miami

Week 2 @ Tennessee

Week 3 @ Minnesota

Week 4 vs Las Vegas

Week 5 BYE

Week 6 vs. Dallas

Week 7 @ Kansas City

Week 8 vs Chicago 

Week 9 @ New York Jets

Week 10 vs.Detroit 

Week 11@ Green Bay

Week 12 vs.Baltimore

Week 13 @ New England

Week 14 vs.Denver 

Week 15 @ Las Vegas

Week 16 vs Buffalo

Week 17 @ Denver

Week 18 vs. Kansas City

Strength of schedule: .517 (12th toughest)

Vegas Wins – 9.5

#MrOviedo’s record prediction - 11 wins 6 losses

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