Keenan Allen entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the San Diego Chargers last season, and he certainly stayed below the radar of most fantasy football owners when he did not play at all in the first game of his career. Things changed quickly though, as Allen had five catches for 80 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 and finished the season with 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a big factor at the most important time for fantasy owners, with 25 catches for 344 yards in five games from Week 12-Week 16, and Allen is in line for another productive season this year.
Allen’s overall target volume was not at the level of the top fantasy wide receivers last year (104; 6.9 per game), but his average yards per target (10.1) matched Demaryius Thomas’ and was close to Josh Gordon’s (10.4). That points to untapped potential, which could be realized with more targets. However, Allen was fairly heavily targeted in the red zone (20 times; tied for sixth-most among wide receivers), and that role should be maintained this year.
Allen said he has focused on improving his speed this offseason, which will help as he moves into a more prominent role in the Chargers’ offense from the start this year and is no longer going to sneak up on opposing defenses. He is a precise route runner with reliable hands, so quarterback Philip Rivers will be looking Allen’s way often.
A lingering knee issue drove Allen’s stock down heading into last year’s draft, and a poor 40 time at his Pro Day (4.71 seconds) led to him falling to the third round. He suffered what appeared to be minor knee and shoulder issues late last season, since he didn’t miss any games, but the potential for nagging injuries and a missed game or two is something for fantasy owners to remember.
Allen is the only wide receiver San Diego has that is locked into a role right now, with an injury question mark (Malcom Floyd) and little else of note around him. While that means he’s in line for as many targets as he can handle with minimal competition, drawing the opposing team’s top cornerback is not great news.
Allen is unlikely to become a top-tier fantasy wide receiver this year, but as the clear No. 1 wide receiver for the Chargers pure target volume limits his downside. I think 80-85 receptions for 1,100 yards and 8-10 touchdowns is a solid projection for Allen this year, which makes him worth drafting as a WR2 in all league formats.
Bye Week: Week 10
Projected Round: Fifth Round
Auction Value: $19 (ESPN.com)
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.