QB Phillip Rivers (San Diego)
8/6/13: Rivers has to get a stock down with Alexander going down for the season. His receiving corps sucks even more now.
Philip Rivers has seen his production drop off severely over the past 3 seasons. In 2010, he completed 66.0% of his passes for an average of 8.7 YPA, 30 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, a QB rating of 101.8, on a team that ranked 2nd in the NFL, scoring 27.6 points per game. In 2011, he completed 62.9% of his passes for an average of 8.0 YPA, 27 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions, an 88.7 QB rating, on a team that ranked 5th in the NFL scoring 25.4 points per game.
In 2012, he completed 64.1% of his passes for an average of 6.8 YPA, 26 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions on a team that ranked 20th in the NFL, scoring 21.9 points per game. He also fumbled 13 times. It’s really tough to tell how much of that can be attributed to his own decline as he ages (he’s going into his age 32 season) and how much can be attributed to the lack of talent around him, but for fantasy purposes, it won’t matter. He will continue to be a mere QB2. He’s unlikely to match the 26 touchdowns he threw for last season because it’s unlikely the Chargers will score just 4 times on the ground again.
Projection: 3700 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 60 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns (212 pts standard, 256 pts 6 pt td leagues)
RB Ryan Matthews (San Diego)
Mathews looked on his way to a big time breakout year in 2012, with backup Mike Tolbert no longer stealing carries from him and coming off a season 2011 season in which he averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 222 carries, with 50 catches for 455 yards, and 6 total touchdowns. However, injuries reared their head, as they always have for him, limiting him to just 184 carries, 3.8 yards per carry, 1 touchdown and 2 broken clavicles.
He’s missed 10 games in his first 3 years in the league, never playing more than 14 games, and his injury problems date back to his collegiate days. The new regime does not seem nearly as bullish on his upside as the old one and he figures to work in a running back committee with Ronnie Brown and Danny Woodhead. He may be better, more efficient, and less likely to get hurt being used in this fashion, but it’s starting to look like he’ll never be the lead back and LaDainian Tomlinson replacement they were expecting.
Projection: 200 carries for 840 rushing yards 6 total touchdowns 40 catches for 290 receiving yards (149 pts standard, 189 pts PPR)
RB Danny Woodhead (San Diego)
Danny Woodhead is the closest thing they’ve had to Darren Sproles since he left, but he’s had just 250 carries in the last 3 seasons and, at 5-8 190, isn’t capable of carrying much of a load. His biggest impact will come in the passing game. He’s worth a late round pick in PPR leagues.
Projection: 90 carries for 410 rushing yards 3 total touchdowns 50 catches for 400 receiving yards (99 pts standard, 149 pts PPR)
WR Vincent Brown (San Diego)
With Danario Alexander done for the year and Malcom Floyd dealing with an injury, Vincent Brown becomes the #1 receiver. Brown missed all of last season with a broken ankle and he had trouble with hamstring problems earlier in Training Camp, but he flashed as a 3rd round rookie in 2011 and now is going into his 3rd year in the league, which tends to be a breakout year for young receivers. He caught 19 passes for 329 yards and 2 touchdowns on 38 targets and 226 routes run in 2011. He could post good numbers simply as a volume receiver.
Projection: 56 catches for 820 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns (118 pts standard, 174 pts PPR)
TE Antonio Gates (San Diego)
8/6/13: Gates gets a minor stock up with Alexander going down, but like Floyd I still don’t expect much.
Antonio Gates looks like he’s in the beginning of the end of his career. Despite plenty of opportunity, Gates managed just 49 catches for 538 yards and 7 touchdowns last season, despite actually playing in 15 games for the first time since 2009. He has a history of injury problems, missing 10 games in the last 3 seasons and being limited in countless others and, going into his age 33 season, it looks like it’s all caught up with him. He’s unlikely to improve much upon those numbers. His biggest impact will be around the goal line, as he’s still managed 24 touchdowns over 38 games over the last 3 seasons. He hasn’t had fewer than 7 touchdowns since his rookie year in 2003.
Projection: 54 catches for 610 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns (103 pts standard, 157 pts PPR)