Four Games In: My Fantasy Dreams Are Coming True
There are plenty of blondes and brunettes on the NFL’s best dance team, the San Diego Charger Girls, who are simply top notch. I’m all about the curly-haired two-year pro Meredith, the new rook on the block Tawnie, and the three-year vet/first-year team captain Angela.
But c’mon, let’s get real. None of those beautiful women could melt my Week 4 heart by giving me 10 receptions, 136 yards and a TD in my PPR league like Mr. Antonio Gates did. I couldn’t sweep a single one of them off their feet like I swept Philip Rivers off the waiver wire post-Week 1, only to have him consistently perform like a gem and lead me to multiple victories.
It is tough to admit, but it’s the dudes on the field in San Diego that make our biggest fantasy dreams come true. With that in mind, let’s examine the Chargers’ players and the fantasy outlook going forward.
Quarterback: The Chargers are off to an up and down 2-2 start through the first quarter of the 2013 season. The Chargers have played better than expected under new head coach Mike McCoy. The offense is looking good, and that is directly related to the play of QB Philip Rivers. In his 10th season Rivers is off to his best start with 11 touchdowns, only two interceptions, and averaging exactly 300 yards passing per game. He ranks 2nd, t-3rd, and 8th in those respective categories. All told, he is the No.3 quarterback in points, standing only behind fantasy gods Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Not surprisingly I have him as an option on all three of my fantasy teams.
The question that must be asked is whether Rivers can maintain this gaudy pace. Based on what we’ve seen from him in past years, I would expect Rivers to have a slight drop off in his production as the season wears on. With that said, he should be a lock as a top 10 fantasy quarterback this season. He warrants a start just about every week if you have him on your team. Through the first quarter of the season, Philip appears to have found his more economical, less turnover-prone self. And no matter what offensive line unit is plugged in, Rivers is getting more consistent protection in the pocket. You can see how much that benefits him.
Running Backs: As is the case with many teams across the NFL, the Chargers use a committee of running backs. Ryan Mathews gets most of the early down work, while Danny Woodhead is in on a majority of third downs. Ronnie Brown’s role in the offense continues to decrease because of the success of Woodhead. Brown simply isn’t the beast he was earlier in his career in Miami.
Mathews, in his fourth season as a pro, continues to be a big fantasy disappointment. While he has looked good with a lot of tough running this season, he is average just 56.5 yards a game and has no touchdowns. Therein lies the key. He just doesn’t have the second level play-making ability to produce those long runs or touchdowns. He only has one six-point score in his last 16 games. Unless you are completely desperate, Mathews should be a no-go. Woodhead, on the other hand, presents a much better option. He averages close to the amount of yards from scrimmage as Mathews, but Woodhead has two touchdown scores. Furthermore, Rivers’ comfort level with Woodhead continues to grow. He already has 22 catches on the year and is the most reliable third-down target. Thus, Woodhead is a must-start in PPR leagues and not a bad option in regular leagues.
Receivers: While Rivers is having a fantastic season so far, you probably want to avoid San Diego’s wide receiving corps until further notice. With the injury to Malcom Floyd, nobody has produced week to week. Both Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen got more looks from Rivers, but until they consistently perform you are better off not risking it.
The only sure start every week is Antonio Gates. At 33, Gates looks fresher than ever. He is the team leader in receptions and yards, and as usual is a favorite target of Rivers in the redzone. And to believe that I got him in the 9th round in one league! The future Hall of Famer showed he still has on his most recent 56-yard touchdown against Dallas. He beat Sean Lee, a top linebacker in the league, down the middle and sped past him en route to the endzone.
If you were fortunate enough to grab either Gates or 2013 his partner in crime, Rivers, you’re chances of achieving fantasy gold are that much better.
Chargers Team Defense: Avoid at all costs. Especially with the injury to Dwight Freeney, this unit will likely continue to struggle. The only time to consider this proposition is in three weeks when they take on the dreadful Jaguars. They will likely be worth a quick waiver wire pickup for the week, but nothing beyond that.