The Los Angeles Chargers’ defense was one of the worst in the league in 2021 under new head coach Brandon Staley. The Chargers gave up 27 points per game last season, which ranked 29th in the league. The team also missed 127 tackles last season, the third most of any team. Despite having one of the best EDGE rushers in the game in Joey Bosa, the team struggled to bring down opposing quarterbacks. The Chargers’ defense ranked 20th in sacks (35) last season; Bosa led the team with 10.5, accounting for 30% of the team’s total. The Chargers upgraded their defense in the off-season by signing former New England Patriots cornerback J.C Jackson and former 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. Second-year defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill will look to rebound and put a much better defense on the field in 2022.
The Los Angeles Chargers finished 9-8 last season. They were third in the AFC West, and if it weren’t for some very aggressive coaching decisions, they likely would have made the playoffs. The Chargers have one of their best rosters on paper in years and look to make some serious noise in the ultra-competitive AFC West division this season.
2021 IDP Review
The Chargers’ defensive front played 50% of their snaps with a four-man front, which was close to the league average. They lined up in three-man fronts for over 300 snaps last season, one of the league’s highest rates (35%).
Brandon Staley has a history of featuring single linebacker packages; it was no surprise that the Chargers used that personnel on 27% of their defensive snaps last season. The team struggled to find consistency at the linebacker position, yet they played most of their snaps with two linebackers on the field.
The Los Angeles secondary played over 600 snaps in ‘Nickel’ last season. Due to their deep coverage issues, the team struggled to use their star player Derwin James in areas where he could make the biggest impact. The team’s starting safeties were two of the top three tacklers for the Chargers. Overall the secondary wasn’t awful; they finished right around league average for passing yards allowed and passing touchdowns.
Joey Bosa, EDGE
The older Bosa brother is one of the NFL’s best EDGE rushers and continues to prove that year after year. The Chargers pass rusher has averaged 9.6 sacks per season over his six-year career. The former Ohio State Buckeye has collected 77 quarterback hits over his past three seasons. He posted a 90.3 PFF pass-rush grade, the fourth best of qualifying EDGE rushers in 2021. The Chargers pass-rusher finished as the DL27 in IDP fantasy football last year. Bosa ranks as the DL7 amongst dynasty nerds IDP rankers.
The Chargers will benefit from having another elite EDGE rusher opposite Joey Bosa for the first time in his career. Bosa has been productive over his career despite being the main focal point of opposing offenses. He finished with a career-high seven forced fumbles, tied for second in the NFL. IDP managers will be looking for more consistency from Bosa in 2022. He was too sack-dependent last season, he failed to record at least a half sack in six games last season, and he did not score double-digit fantasy points in any of those games.
Khalil Mack, EDGE
A fresh start for the former 2016 Defensive Player of the Year is the best-case scenario for IDP managers. In 2021 Khalil Mack failed to play 14 at least 14 games for the first time in his career. He still managed to make an impact. Mack compiled six sacks, one fumble recovery, and nine pressures in just seven games. Mack had a five-game stretch from Week 2 to Week 6, averaging 16.03 fantasy points per game. An injury in Week 7 forced him to miss the remainder of the season. Before last season, the former All-Pro scored at least 175 fantasy points or more in seven straight seasons.
Dynasty managers, as well as defensive football fans, are excited to see what the addition of Khalil Mack does for the Chargers’ defense. The quarterbacks playing the Chargers this season are surely not looking forward to that game. It’s a very real possibility that the Chargers have multiple double-digit sack players this season. Khalil Mack’s IDP value is strictly tied to him being available as an EDGE or defensive line. He remains an afterthought for IDP managers if he is strictly a linebacker. The former Bears pass rusher is an excellent find late in startup drafts which can fill a void at the defensive line spot if he bounces back this season.
Sebastian Joseph-Day, DL
There’s no secret here that the Chargers’ defensive line outside of their premier bookends is not getting anyone excited. He’s the best of the bunch from an interior defensive line standpoint for the team. The former Rams pass rusher switched from the NFC to AFC but remained in Los Angeles to continue his football career. His sample size was small, only playing in seven games last season, but he did average 5.4 tackles per game as part of the Rams rotation.
Sebastian Joseph-Day will look to help solve the run defense issues the Chargers had last season. The Chargers were bottom five in the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards allowed, and rushing touchdowns allowed. The former Rutgers product is a low-volume sack DT. He can give you between 40 and 60 tackles in a season. Even in defensive tackle premium leagues, his value is still unfavorable to dynasty managers. I would consider him a player to monitor this season. He may surprise you and give you a couple of spot starts during the season.
Kenneth Murray, LB
Kenneth Murray struggled with consistent play and injuries, leading to frustration for IDP managers in 2021. Murray saw a big regression in production due to his inability to stay on the field. The former first-round pick only managed 31 tackles on the season and finished with 42.50 fantasy points. He managed double-digit fantasy points in 50% of his games last season. It’s not fair to blame him when his snap count was so inconsistent from Week 11 on. IDP managers would love to forget the 2021 season and likely will if the young linebacker can have a bounce-back season.
The Chargers linebacker hasn’t given dynasty managers much hope. His rookie season of 107 tackles was still only good enough for LB52 in 2020. Kenneth Murray remains a tackle-dependent dynasty linebacker. He has just one impact play (one sack) over his first 27 games. The Charger’s run defense was terrible last season, allowing a league-leading 144 rushing first downs. It would boost his dynasty value if Murray can return to his rookie season form as his floor for fantasy production. When he returns from injury, he will be allowed to prove why he was the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
Troy Reeder, LB
Troy Reeder is the second player from the 2021 Los Angeles Rams defender to join the Chargers this off-season. Reeder is slowly creeping up on the radar of IDP managers over the past two seasons. He has compiled 172 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and six tackles for loss. Fantasypros.com currently has Reeder as the LB86 for the 2022 season. He’s hardly getting the respect he deserves.
Troy Reeder played at least fifty snaps in six games last season; he averaged 14.42 fantasy points per game. The familiarity with Brandon Staley will surely give Troy Reeder an advantage in seeing early snaps at the linebacker position. The early reports from training camp are positive for Reeder and his role on this defense. Dynasty managers looking for fairly cheap linebacker production should take a chance and send an offer to acquire him in your leagues. Reeder had his career-high in solo tackles (53) and sacks (3) while playing with Brandon Staley in 2020.
Dru Tranquill, LB
Dru Tranquill had a career year for the Chargers last season. He collected a career-high 76 tackles in 14 games. He scored over 100 fantasy points for the first time in his short three-year career. Tranquil contributes more as a special teams player than an NFL starting linebacker. However, he did step up with all the injuries, and poor play Kenneth Murray dealt with last season. Dynasty managers should not rely heavily on Tranquill to repeat his 2021 season. He likely can offer your team some production during bye weeks or if you get a rash of injuries at the linebacker position.
Derwin James, DB
The Dynasty Nerds DB1 overall is that for a reason. I have not been shy about my love for Derwin James as a dynasty asset in IDP leagues. I currently roster James on roughly 60% of all my IDP dynasty rosters. The Charger’s star of the secondary notched a personal best of 118 tackles last season while playing over 900 snaps. James also was very efficient over his 525 coverage snaps in 2021. He allowed just one touchdown and a 56.7 completion percentage. According to pro football focus, his 78.1 overall grade was 10th best among all qualifying safeties.
James was the DB2 overall in Dynasty Nerds IDP default scoring. It’s crazy to think how much he struggled to find a role in the Chargers’ defensive system last season. A new contract making him the league’s highest-paid safety and an entire off-season with an upgraded secondary could unleash him in 2022. Derwin James has played at least fifteen games twice over his first four seasons. In those years, he’s averaged 229.75 fantasy points a season. It’s as simple as this, Derwin James being healthy is guaranteed top 12 defensive back production. IDP managers who have Derwin James on their rosters are not looking to sell him, and those managers who don’t just wish they did.
Nasir Adderley, DB
The Charger’s defense is built around a heavy dose of two deep safeties. Nasir Adderley is the featured player among that group. He played 900 plus snaps in 2021 with 610 at free safety. The Los Angeles Chargers safety posted a career-high 99 tackles last season and averaged almost 11 fantasy points per game. He likely stays in that same role in 2022, but I expect his tackle numbers to dip with a much-improved defense, at least on paper.
Dynasty managers should temper expectations for Adderley in 2022, and his effectiveness as a deep safety makes for inconsistent production from week to week. The former University of Delaware safety has just one interception and eight passes defended over 34 career games. He doesn’t make enough impact plays to be in your lineup regularly. In deeper dynasty leagues, he is an excellent defensive back to have to play in a plus matchup.
Asante Samuel Jr., DB
Asante Samuel Jr. had a rough rookie season. He managed 43 tackles and two interceptions, but it was hard to watch. Samuel struggled in coverage, finishing the season with a 57.4 PFF coverage grade. He played over 600 snaps at cornerback and allowed an average of 13.9 yards per catch. The silver lining is he only allowed three touchdowns as a rookie but was only targeted 56 times. That number is sure to go up in 2022. The son of a former four-time Pro Bowl cornerback will likely only be an option for dynasty managers in cornerback-required formats. He may see a boost in targets with J.C. Jackson playing on the opposite side. If he can make the most of those opportunities, he can have a sneaky good season.
J.C. Jackson, DB
J.C. Jackson is a massive upgrade to the Charger’s secondary. However, he’s not much to get excited about for IDP managers. His effectiveness as a good cover corner will likely force opposing quarterbacks to challenge other areas of the defense. In his career, the former Patriots cornerback has averaged under forty tackles a season. He is an impact play-dependent defensive back. Jackson has intercepted 17 passes over his past two seasons and saw the fourth most targets (98) amongst cornerbacks last season. The Charger’s new cornerback will continue to be an outstanding football player, but his fantasy production is not something managers should be counting on.
The 2022 Los Angeles Chargers defense looks excellent on paper. If they can play to their potential, they will get the Chargers back in the postseason. The Chargers have more impact players on their defense than they’ve had in some time, and that, combined with their offensive firepower, should have them challenging for the AFC West crown. The Chargers’ win total is set at 10.5 this season, and their defense will be a huge reason they have a chance to reach that total. IDP managers have more than just two reasons (Bosa and James) to invest in this defense for the 2022 season.
Did you hear the big news? The Dynasty Nerds YouTube channel is up and running. Now you can see the podcast straight from the NerdHQ!! Smash that subscribe button. Sign up for the DynastyGM tool to keep that edge over your league mates. Manage all of your dynasty teams, use the trade calculator, and we just added a player shares tool so you can see all players you roster in one place.