The 2020 Los Angeles Chargers had lots of hope going into the season. Unfortunately, the defense lost Derwin James before the season started. Then all-pro EDGE Joey Bosa was lost to a concussion after only playing ten games. Superstar EDGE Melvin Ingram only played in seven games. They finished with a 7-9 record, mainly on the play of Justin Herbert. As we head into the 2021 season, expectations are optimistic for this defense. However, there are many changes from 2020. Ingram and Denzel Perryman are no longer with the team, which gives players like Murray and Kyzir White more playing time for the upcoming season.
Bosa is arguably the best player on this Chargers defense, when he can actually stay on the field. The injury mentioned in the opening was the latest in a littered injury history. He did play in all 16 games in 2019, which was a nice change of pace for the pro-bowler. Bosa still managed to rack up 7.5 sacks, 39 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, and 27 quarterback hits. Bosa lost his running mate for the past few seasons, as Ingram’s contract expired and the Chargers didn’t re-sign him. Bosa will have a new guy opposite of him this year which could cause a few more double teams for Bosa.
Bosa is coming off the boards as the DL9, behind Montez Sweat and Brian Burns, just outside of the top tier of EDGE players. Bosa has the potential of a top-tier EDGE player but his injuries are a big reason he hasn’t eclipsed that horizon yet. If you are trading for him, don’t oversell for him. Be aware of the injury concern, He does have the potential to be that guy. For reference, in the two seasons Bosa played in 16 games, he had double-digit sacks in both of those seasons (12.5 and 11.5)
White is more of a coverage linebacker than a pass rusher so you will see fewer sacks from him. He played in 11 games last season, starting ten of them. He saw a nice stat bump in tackles from 2019 to 2020, going from 40 tackles to 77. White is penciled in to start at weakside linebacker again this year with Kenneth Murray manning the middle and Drue Tranquill as the strong-side linebacker.
His fantasy value won’t be eye-popping and you can get him late or as a throw-in for trades. As a cover and run-stopping linebacker, White will be a good source of tackles. This could lead to him being a sneaky add in deeper leagues. White is currently going undrafted in start-up dynasty leagues, so search for him after the draft is over.
The former first-round pick in 2020 has started since day one with the Chargers. Murray toggled between both weak side and middle linebacker last season, finishing with 107 tackles, three pass deflections, and five tackles for a loss. Murray definitely has a knack for being the finisher. He finished the 2018 season with the Sooners with an outstanding 155 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Denzel Perryman is gone and the Mike role is his to lose. Murray is effective in cover as well as being a run stopper.
As we roll into the 2021 NFL season, Murray is being drafted as a high LB2 (LB14 overall). He will have a stronghold manning the middle and should be very valuable in tackle-heavy leagues. Currently, the Dynasty Nerds team has Murray ranked as LB21 and 36th overall IDP. If you want to trade for him, you might be paying more than you should. Murray has the potential to come out as a top-15 linebacker.
Here is a guy that has so much potential, but has been bit by the injury bug. James has only played in 21 games over three years. However, in those three years, James has been nothing short of dominant. Minus the injury history, James still has the potential to be a top-three safety. He can play all over the field and be a leader for your defense.
Despite the injury history, James is still coming off the boards as DB4 (110th overall). When it comes to trading you might be able to buy low on James if the current owners are fed up with his injuries or vise versa and sell him high to somebody that still believes in him. I personally would be buying him, pending the cost. The potential is there, let us see if he can overcome the injuries and be that top three safety everybody wants him to be.
The Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hen alumni was nearly non-existent in 2019, however, 2020 was a different story. Adderley was tagged with the task to fill the shoes of James after he was lost for the season. Adderley struggled at times trying to fill his name but overall finished with 69 tackles, good enough for fourth on the team. As 2021 rolls along, Adderley and company will have a new regime all-around to deal with. This can mean two things. One, it could give him more chances or two, he could be an odd man out since they are ‘his’ guys. Adderley is listed as a starter thus far, so time will tell.
Temper your expectations when it comes to Adderley. Opportunity is key and right now he has it. Adderley is going undrafted in start-up drafts, which gives you a solid opportunity to take a chance on him. According to Fantrax, he is only owned in about 41% of leagues. If you want to take a chance on him, get him as a throw-in on trades or buy low with a new regime.
There is a lot of talent on this team but, unfortunately, the injury bug likes to bite this team. If Bosa and James can hold up their health, the sky is the limit for this team. Tranquill is another solid option for this team and could take that step to the next level this season.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the article. You can find me on Twitter @ejh1528IDP. Feel free to shoot me any draft, IDP (NFL or Devy) questions you may have. You can check out my NFL Draft Content here and my previous Dynasty Nerds articles here. Are you a #NerdHerd member yet? For just $2.99/month, you get access to rankings, extra podcasts, the buy/sell tool, and more on the way.