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2022 Fantasy Forecast: Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers return four premiere fantasy players to their roster from a season ago. Let’s dig in to what we can expect from them in the 2022 season.

We are just past the halfway point of our series preview of every NFL offense. This means we are starting to get into those premier teams. And while our next team didn’t make the playoffs in 2021 (they were seconds away), they are full of talent to boost your fantasy teams.  

With a top-two quarterback, a top-two running back, and two top-15 wide receivers in 2021, the Los Angeles Chargers are full of some of your favorite dynasty players. And they all return in 2022, meaning this is a team you will want to watch every Sunday (or Thursday/Monday).  

If that isn’t enough, the Chargers are in the most exciting division in football, at least on paper. We will see the Chargers face off six times a year against the Chiefs, Broncos, and Raiders. These matchups will be jam-packed with elite fantasy talent and must-watch games.  

So, let’s jump in and look at the 2022 Los Angeles Chargers and what you can expect from them as a fantasy owner.  

Quarterback 

Just two years ago, Justin Herbert was considered the third best quarterback in his draft class, and by a wide margin. In non-SuperFlex leagues, Herbert was being taken in drafts 65 picks after Joe Burrow, and 45 picks after Tua Tagovailoa. Some believed Herbert would struggle at the NFL level. I personally saw him not get drafted until the late-first or early-second round of several SuperFlex rookie drafts. 

Now, Herbert is considered one of the best quarterbacks to own in fantasy. And for a good reason. Herbert finished as QB9 in his rookie season and moved all the way up to QB2 in his sophomore campaign. The only quarterback to finish ahead of Herbert last season was Josh Allen, the consensus QB1 in dynasty and fantasy leagues. 

Herbert has been a revelation in Los Angeles. His powerful arm and clutch performances have made him a marvel on the field. And the stats he is racking up have been a joy for all his fantasy owners.  

It is hard to know if there is more to the ceiling with Herbert. We would be a little greedy to ask more from a quarterback that threw for over 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns last year. And Herbert even provides some bonuses with his 300+ rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns last year. And at 24 years old, Herbert will surely be a player on your roster for a decade to come. 

If the ceiling has already been met, that is not a problem. Herbert is going to be a cornerstone for any dynasty team. It would take a godfather offer for me to want to move him in any Superflex league.  

Running Back 

Just like the quarterback position, the Chargers can also boast about a top-two player at the running back position from 2021. Austin Ekeler had an incredible season in 2021 and won more than one league for fantasy players.  

Ekeler finished as RB2 in virtually every format: standard, 0.5-PPR, and PPR. But he showed off in those PPR leagues. Ekeler finished below the 1,000-yard mark in rushing yards but beat every other running back in football by 100 receiving yards. With 647 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns, the 911 rushing yards Ekeler tallied were easily forgivable.  

Ekeler comes back in 2022 with a slightly different running back room. The Chargers drafted Isaiah Spiller out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He joins returning running backs Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree in Los Angeles’ backfield. 

While Spiller, Kelley, and Rountree could see some snaps and production in 2022, Ekeler is still the bell cow of this offense. His ability and versatility are a dynamic combination that makes him a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. I fully expect Ekeler to have another big season in 2022. 

Ekeler is still a great piece to have as a contender from a dynasty perspective. But, if you are thinking rebuild, keep in mind that Ekeler is 27 already. You may want to move him while he is a premiere back, and you can get near top dollar for him.  

If you were to try to get any stock in the Chargers backfield (or if you are looking for an Ekeler handcuff), Spiller is the most interesting name on this list. He fell a bit further in the draft than many thought he would. But he was still one of the most talented backs in this year’s rookie class. If Ekeler ends up missing time at some point in the season, Spiller could get a chance to fill in that gap. 

Wide Receivers 

Wouldn’t you know it? The Chargers didn’t just have a great fantasy quarterback and running back in 2021. They also had two elite wide receivers to help your fantasy teams. And both will be back in powder blue and yellow in 2022. 

First, Mike Williams finally had the big season we have all been waiting for from him since he joined the league. With 76 catches, 1,146 yards, and nine touchdowns, Williams found himself in the top-10 in both standard and 0.5-PPR formats. 

However, Williams’s year was a little up-and-down. Through the first five weeks of the 2021 season, Williams was WR1. You read that right. Williams was the number one fantasy receiver. This coming in the same year Cooper Kupp had historic totals at the wide receiver position. But as soon as the fun came of being a Williams owner, it left just as fast.  

From weeks six to twelve, Williams was missing in action. He totaled only 273 yards and one touchdown in this six-game span. Owners excited about the start of the year ended up having week-after-week of disappointment. Williams salvaged his year down the stretch with 402 yards and two touchdowns in his final five games. But this hot-and-cold play is challenging for fantasy owners to trust a player. 

Meanwhile, Keenan Allen was about as consistent as you can imagine. Finishing the year in the top-15 in standard and 0.5 PPR leagues, Allen did not have a single game in 2021 with less than four catches. He ended the year with 1,138 receiving yards and six touchdowns, spread nicely throughout the entire season. 

LA offers two interesting receivers: the bang-or-bust Williams and the consistent gem in Allen. Both can help any fantasy team succeed in the 2022 season, but you may like one over the other for different reasons. Personally, I am a bigger fan of Allen than Williams. When it comes to weekly lineups, I want players that I know will contribute to my total. It is hard to come back from a lowly performance from any position, so consistency is key.  

If you are looking for some excitement further down the depth chart, Joshua Palmer is getting some hype this offseason. While his 353 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie year are not that exciting, it gets more enjoyable when you look deeper.  

In games where Palmer saw 60% or more of the team snaps, he averaged over 13 fantasy points per game. If Williams or Allen were to go down with an injury, Palmer could see a significant increase in value. 

Tight Ends 

The first three positional groups are fascinating for the Chargers. But I’m not sure we can say the same from the tight end position. Gerald Everett, Donald Parham, and Tre McKitty are our top three listed tight ends in the Los Angeles depth chart. This feels like a big question mark from a fantasy perspective.  

In his fifth NFL season, Everett played in Seattle and had his best career year. But that isn’t saying a whole lot. Everett’s career year only produced 478 receiving yards and four touchdowns. This was only good enough to land at TE22 on the year. 

Everett comes to a high-profile offense in Los Angeles, but I’m not sure he will ever be fantasy relevant for owners. While his services have given him a contract for a sixth NFL season, fantasy owners may not get much production from the tight end.  

After Everett, Parham is the only other name worth mentioning in L.A. Parham is now dealing with a hamstring injury, but he was impressive in camp before the injury. Chargers beat reporter Daniel Popper of The Athletic noted in his training camp notes on August 3rd that “Parham is having a great camp, and it is clear he will once again be a prominent piece in the Chargers downfield passing attack.” 

Whether this is just camp hype or something to take to heart is still to be determined. But it is good to see Parham on the field again after a scary injury near the end of 2021 against the Chiefs. He is still an exciting prospect with a 6’8” and 230-plus pound frame, so he may be worth stashing in big roster leagues.  

While the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers are electric in Los Angeles, the tight end group is a bit lackluster. You may want to hang on to Everett and see if he can have a breakout in a new system. And Parham is worth a deep stash if your league’s rosters are deep. But I wouldn’t be tripping over myself trying to acquire either in my leagues.  

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