It's time to start thinking about fantasy football, and we have started going team by team to let you know what each NFL franchise can do for your fantasy squad. You can click here to see if your team has been previewed yet. If it isn't there, chances are it's coming soon. We have finished the NFC West and have moved on to the AFC West.
*Rankings are based on a 12-team, standard scoring format.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
2012 RECORD: 7-9
2013 BYE WEEK: 8
TOP DRAFT PICKS: (1) D.J. Fluker- OT- Alabama
(2) Manti Te'o- ILB- Notre Dame
(3) Keenan Allen- WR- Cal
QUARTERBACK: Philip Rivers had a down season last year, at least by his standards. He failed to crack 4,000 yards passing for the first time since 2007. His 26 touchdowns was also his lowest since that season. Not much has changed as far as his weapons go, save the addition of Keenan Allen, who may not have much of an impact at all this season. Rivers is a QB2 at this point, who could easily come back to QB1 status if he can get back the yards that he lost last season. Charlie Whitehurst is the backup, but he probably isn't worth owning even if there is an injury to the durable Rivers.
RUNNING BACK: Ryan Mathews was abysmal last season. He averaged only 3.8 yards per carry and scored 1 touchdown in 12 games. While it is hard to imagine the Chargers not doing something to address the problem at running back, it's harder to imagine Mathews being that terrible again. That said, even if he returns to his 2011 form, he still isn't a great fantasy option. I am not drafting Mathews as an RB2. Draft him late and store him for your good running backs' bye weeks. Ronnie Brown is still the backup, but he's only scored 1 touchdown in the last 2 years. Danny Woodhead could provide a wrinkle in the passing game, and makes him more desirable than Ronnie Brown, but he won't be on any of my teams.
WIDE RECEIVER: The Chargers are still not great at the wide receiver position, but they have a couple of fairly intriguing options at the position. Danario Alexander led the Chargers in touchdown receptions last year with 7, but he will miss the season with a torn ACL. Malcolm Floyd is the most tenured guy in the group. He had 814 yards receiving last year to go with 5 touchdowns. 2011 3rd round pick Vincent Brown appears set to assume the #2 role. He came into the league as a polished route runner, but broke his ankle in the preseason last year. His upside may be equal to Floyd's. I don't really want either of them to be starting for me, but both could end up being acceptable WR3s by the time it's all said and done. Keenan Allen is intriguing. The 3rd round pick from Cal has outstanding long-term potential, but will have to prove himself worthy of playing time. Eddie Royal has a concussion and a bruised lung, and his timetable for return is unknown. He and Robert Meachem both disappointed last season in the Chargers offense, and little should be expected from either this year.
TIGHT END: Antonio Gates had his worst season since becoming a full time starter in 2003. He had only 49 receptions and 538 receptions. His 7 touchdowns were decent for a tight end, but not nearly what you would have expected from him going into the season. Gates can not be looked at as an elite fantasy option, and that hasn't been the case for many years. Draft him as a low tier TE1 or a strong backup, and hope that his production comes back to normal. People will reach on him based on name value alone, so don't be suckered into treating him like a top 7 or 8 tight end. John Phillips, acquired from the Cowboys, is in line for backup snaps.
KICKER: Nick Novak has taken over the kicking job in San Diego, and he was solid last season. He was 18-20 on field goals, and his only misses came from over 50 yards. The Chargers offense is mediocre at best. You are better served looking elsewhere for a kicker.
DEFENSE-SPECIAL TEAMS: San Diego made a nice jump defensively last season, as their offense fell off. They are middle of the pack in points allowed and interceptions, but ranked 4th in the league in sacks last year with 49. Don't go out of your way to draft them, but if you like to own two defenses and play match-ups, they are worth a look.