When you’re marking down ticks in the plus column for Fantasy points, one of the first things you look at for a defense is the strength of schedule. Fortunately for the San Diego Chargers, they have the second easiest schedule of the 2013 NFL season. And while an easier schedule generally makes for more Fantasy production, it doesn’t necessarily equate to more wins.
Last year, the Chargers had a respectable defense despite having a less than well-known supporting cast, falling into the top-10 in both yards allowed and rushing defense (11th in forced turnovers), all while producing a respectable 38 sacks and seven defensive touchdowns. They even did enough to finish 16th overall in points allowed.
But this year’s team is much different.
Led by newly-minted defensive coordinator John Pagano, the Chargers defense is hoping to improve upon last year’s stats with the addition of a younger cast. Gone are Takeo Spikes, Quentin Jammer and Shaun Phillips. They’ll have to be replaced by all-world defense end Dwight Freeney, recent addition at corner Richard Marshall and rookie linebacker Manti Te’o.
Freeney has, for over the last 11 years with the Indianapolis Colts, been absolutely dominant. In his career, he’s compiled 107.5 sacks, 378 tackles, 44 forced fumbles, 14 passes defensed and three interceptions. He’s also been named to the Pro Bowl seven times, All-Pro four times and was Defensive Player of the Year in 2005. Though getting up there in age, preseason has shown us that he will anchor this year’s Chargers with his leadership, tenacity and drive. He alone should add great value to an already solid defensive team.
The Bolts also sports solid if not spectacular players, Corey Liuget and Eric Weddle. Both players, when healthy, can be top 20 players at their position in regards to Fantasy points. Adding Te’o, Marcus Gilchrist and Donald Butler to an already solid cast should help round out the defense quite nicely.If only second-year pro Melvin Ingram could see more of the field — he’s currently recovering from a torn ACL — the Chargers might be even more formidable.
For now, though, look for the Chargers to remain a solid, but unspectacular choice during your Fantasy draft. They may very well end up being a top-15 defense, but not a top-15 selection on draft day.