2014 Team Outlook: San Diego Chargers
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2014 Team Outlook: San Diego Chargers

A fantasy football preview of the San Diego Chargers this season. Profiled players include Philip Rivers, Kellen Clemens, Ryan Mathews, Donald Brown, and Danny Woodhead.

Philip Rivers was last season's Comeback Player of the Year as named by the Associated Press. His turnaround was assisted by new head coach Mike McCoy and the pair should fare well into the future. Rivers is a reliable option who rebounded statistically after what appeared to be a gradual decline. In 2013, he threw for nearly 4,500 yards with 32 TDs and 11 INTs. This year Rivers will be counting on second-year standout Keenan Allen, a tentatively healthy Malcom Floyd, tight ends Ladarius Green and Antonio Gates, as well as some additional support from a great backfield. Rivers has the potential to surprise fantasy owners once again.

Editor's note: Rivers has passed for at least 4,000 yards in five of his last six seasons. For those owners opting to wait for a quarterback, Rivers is certainly one to target. According to our data, Rivers is the 15th QB off the board with an ADP of 125.55. This really illustrates the depth of the quarterback position. Considering Rivers could be drafted as a backup, there should be no pressing need to reach at the position in 10- or 12-team leagues.

Kellen Clemens is an upgrade over last year's backup QB [Charlie Whitehurst], but still not draft worthy. Last season, he stepped in for Sam Bradford in St. Louis and performed like a game-manager. Clemens is by no means a guy to rely on at the QB position. If Rivers goes down, Clemens would perform adequately on the field. Unfortunately, fantasy owners will get no use out of that adequacy.

Ryan Mathews is one of many safe picks to choose from San Diego's offense. After failing to meet the expectations of fantasy owners early in his career, mostly due to injury woes and periods of non-productivity, the former Fresno State back rebounded with a healthy and useful 16-game contribution. Mathews rushed for 100-plus yards six times after Week 5. From Weeks 10 to 17, he averaged about 15 fantasy points per game in standard scoring leagues. That's a really strong push from a guy typically drafted as RB2 or flex. He has shown a burst of explosiveness up to this point, although some of that might be zapped due to him adding nearly 10 lbs. of muscle during the offseason. He claims his weight gain is meant to provide him with durability, a sore subject among fantasy owners, no pun intended. Mathews would benefit from contributing more as a receiver; however, RBs Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown will share that responsibility. After finishing last season as fantasy's 12th-best scoring RB in standard, Mathews' ADP places him at RB21 or more specifically, early in Round 6. The concerns of a fluke season from the Chargers coupled with injury concerns make Mathews an excellent value selection.

Injury Status: Out - Knee

Since San Diego is calling Ryan Mathews their bell cow, that would make Donald Brown an opportunistic handcuff if he can overtake Woodhead as the Chargers' No. 2 back. If not, he will have to wait for Mathews to miss his annual game or two. Brown's move to San Diego is smart for the franchise, considering Mathews' injury issues from years past. Brown can also contribute some value in the passing game. Last season in Indianapolis, he had 27 grabs for 214 yards and two TDs. Brown should earn about five to eight carries per game plus some extra work on passing downs. He will spell Mathews as needed and if he goes down to injury for a game or two (which is likely), Brown can make a fantasy impact in most league formats.

Danny Woodhead is a traditional pass-catching RB who will also carry the ball a handful of times per game. Woodhead can be a quality backup in PPR leagues, and would fit nicely as a flex in your roster. The big question is whether or not head coach Mike McCoy and San Diego will opt to give Woodhead the same workload as last season. Woodhead accumulated 1,034 total yards and scored eight TDs. His 76 receptions were the second-most for a running back in the NFL, trailing only the Saints' Pierre Thomas (77). The addition of Donald Brown is a definite concern, although Woodhead (now 29 years old) is in a contract year so the Chargers may have made the move to plan ahead for the future. The former Chadron State back is the 39th RB drafted with an ADP of 117.62. This makes him a Round 10 pick. Such a spot in the draft is usually reserved for bench players.

Editor's note: Woodhead was a great PPR pick last year. He never rushed for more than 52 yards or gained more than 77 receiving yards in a game; however, his steady yardage as both a runner and receiver made him supremely dependable and safe. With a new year ahead of him and another decent RB in the backfield (Brown), Woodhead has lost some of his luster. Doubt has crept in. Can he really score eight total TDs again? In the 10th round, Woodhead is worth taking the risk.

Marion Grice was San Diego's sixth-round draft pick and was recently signed to a four-year deal. Grice is not likely to see much action (if any) in a backfield with Mathews, Brown and Woodhead. He is not draft worthy, unless it is as a late-round look in dynasty leagues. He excelled at Arizona State thanks to his impressive pass-catching skill.

 
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