Fantasy Football 2013: Fantasy 32; San Diego Chargers
Remember when the San Diego Chargers were one of the powerhouses of the AFC?
Those were the days. Fantasy owners had faith in their quarterback, and a guy by the name of LaDainian Tomlinson dominated fantasy matchups week after week. However, that is no more.
A few seasons ago, Phillip Rivers won me a fantasy championship. No, seriously. It was 2010. Rivers threw for 4,710 yards and 30 touchdowns, launching himself into the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks, along with my team to fantasy gold. I know, I know. Seems like eons ago, right? Sadly, fast forward to 2013 and Rivers is a shell of his former self. His mechanics are atrocious, often throwing sidearm. It almost looks like he is afraid to throw the ball downfield. He has transitioned into more of a dink and dump passer, and the Chargers offense has looked less than pedestrian. In 2012, Rivers’ aDOT (average depth of target) was a measly 7.8, the fourth-lowest of any starting quarterback. There is simply no upside with Rivers any longer. I mean, do you want to see how truly bad Rivers was from a fantasy perspective last season? Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam Bradford and Carson Palmer scored more fantasy points than he did. And how about those 28 turnovers, including a ridiculous 13 fumbles? Ball security is an issue, accuracy is an issue, and to put it lightly, Rivers just isn’t a very good quarterback right now. Quarterback is too deep in the first place to even want Rivers for your fantasy team. I have him at 22. Yikes!
Let’s go inside the numbers here. Two, as in the number of broken collarbones running back Ryan Mathews suffered last season. It was clearly a bad year for him. To put it into perspective, he broke more collarbones than he scored touchdowns (1). Remember when this guy was going in the first and second rounds of fantasy drafts in 2011? After watching how bad he’s been, it’s pretty difficult to believe it. Mathews has had a boatload of potential ever since entering the league, but has just never lived up to it. In three seasons, he is averaging a career 4.4 yards per carry and has fumbled 11 times. He certainly has talent, but when Ronnie Brown outplayed him enough to earn the third down work, something isn’t right. Now, Danny Woodhead is in the mix (deep sleeper alert) and will most certainly see third down work, leaving Mathews in the dust. I’m steering clear of any of these backs this season, outside of maybe Woodhead in a PPR format.
Danario Alexander was easily one of the best fantasy wideouts during the second half of last season. After catching 34 balls for 597 yards and seven touchdowns from Week 10 after, Alexander likely won many owners there leagues. Expect him to be the Chargers number one receiver, but can he stay healthy? This is a guy who has had give surgeries to his knee already and I’m not totally convinced that he can play a full 16 game-season. However, if he does string together that many games, watch out. During his time last year, Alexander averaged 0.23 fantasy points per snap, which was the tied for fourth-most among wide receivers. At just 24-years old, there is a ton of upside here, but can Rivers deliver him the football? Outside of DX, I’m not a fan of any of the other guys. Just too crowded of a situation consisting of Malcom Floyd, Robert Meachem, a healthy Vincent Brown and rookie draft pick Keenan Allen.
Is anyone seeing a theme here? A bunch of guys who used to be fantasy gold, but have fallen off of the radar. There may be no better example of that than Antonio Gates. For years, this guy was the most dominant tight end in football. However, since his 79-catch, 1,157-yard, eight-touchdown season in 2009, Gates has regressed each season. Here are his yearly numbers from 2010-2012:
Clearly, there has been some regression here, but given the tight end position (weak), I wouldn’t mind having Gates on my roster. Of course, I’d rather attempt to grab some of the younger guys with much higher upside, but Gates finished 2012 as the number 12 fantasy tight end, despite only catching 49 balls. I think the Chargers new offensive regime that will feature short passes will involve Gates a ton, and I wouldn’t be devastated if he was on my roster.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.
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