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A little Charger Fantasy Preview

Discussion in 'Fantasy Football Talk' started by Joy Division, Jul 31, 2010.

  1. Joy Division
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    Joy Division Slightly-known Member

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    Mod's please move this to the "Fantasy section" thanks.


    Fantasy Football Team Preview: Chargers0
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    7/30/2010 9:00 PM ET By Paul Bourdett

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    Paul Bourdett
    Fantasy Football Analyst

    FanHouse is knocking out your fantasy football 2010 team previews one day at a time. With the new season on the horizon, we're covering all 32 potential champions.

    Meet the ...
    Team whose passing game could theoretically get a whole lot worse. Of course, if that happens it certainly wouldn't be Philip Rivers' fault. No, you can pin the demise of the Chargers vertical passing game on the holdouts of two of their biggest offensive stars. Pro Bowl wideout Vincent Jackson was already suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy (he got bagged drunk driving for the second time in January) . Now, he's threatening to sit out until Week 10 if the Chargers don't come correct with a contract extension. Word on the street says he may even be on the trading block. Regardless of how things shake out, his absence, even for three weeks, will be a huge hit to the Chargers aerial attack. No disrespect to Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naannee, and perennial "Bust"er Davis, but they don't possess the game-changing ability or fantasy potential of V-Jax.

    Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill also is holding out for more dollars. Sans McNeill, Philip Rivers could take a beating on his blind side. Tra Thomas would presumably start if McNeill sticks to his guns, but he's 35 years old and has no chance against elite pass rushers. You can already tell the team doesn't trust him because they have Brandyn Dombrowsky starting training camp at left tackle.

    Rivers is one of the most talented QBs in the league and one of the fantasy game's best bets when all his pieces are in place. The loss of Jackson and McNeill, however, knock him down a peg or two on my cheat sheet. And that's before considering Antonio Gates' dreaded plantar fasciitis injury and the team handing the starting running back job to a rookie. It's not an Armageddon scenario but Rivers is less of a sure thing than he's been in years past. Consider yourself warned.

    The Breakout
    First-year running back Ryan Matthews is too easy of a breakout pick. He was the most complete back in the draft and Norv Turner has already publicly stated that he will be a huge factor from jump street. The more obscure breakout pick is 243-pound RB Mike Tolbert. Tolbert's already impressed coaches with his work the past two seasons and is the guy getting first team reps at tailback with Matthews still unsigned. Here's the early word on Tolbert and his potential role courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

    Mike Tolbert worked as the starting tailback in Ryan Matthews' absence and likely will continue to take snaps here and there at that position with the starters. The plan is for Tolbert to be significantly more a part of the gameplan as a ballcarrier than he was in his first two seasons. he can run, is explosive, and can catch.Sounds a lot like Darren Sproles. Well, except that he can actually run inside and break tackles. He could potentially steal some goal-line/short-yardage work from Ryan Matthews this season and looks more like Matthews' official handcuff than Sproles. Let's label him a "vulture" for now.

    The Bust
    Malcom Floyd is no sleeper in my book. Not as long as he's drawing the opposition's best corners week in and week out (Champ Bailey, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Brandon Flowers are all in his division). Granted, he's got the size (6-foot-5) to be a strong red zone target, but he's not a great route runner and doesn't have the speed/quickness to burn past plus corners. He had only three games where he caught more than three passes last season, and only one contest where he surpassed four receptions (a Week 17 win over the Redskins when the Chargers rested all their starters). I can't envision a scenario where he's better without Vincent Jackson than he is with him.

    The Depth Chart
    QB1 - Philip Rivers
    QB2 - Billy Volek
    RB1 - Ryan Matthews
    RB2 - Darren Sproles
    RB3 - Mike Tolbert
    WR1 - Vincent Jackson
    WR2 - Malcolm Floyd
    WR3 - Legedu NaaneeBuster Davis
    WR4 - Buster Davis
    WR5 - Josh Reed
    TE1 - Antonio Gates
    K - Nate Kaeding

    The D/ST
    Shawn Merriman joins the list of greedy Chargers holding out for more money. On the plus side, he is another year removed from knee surgery and has motivation to perform -- he's in a contract year. Guys may not play harder just because they're in line for a big pay day, but they often enter the season more physically prepared when they have dollar signs in their sight. If Merriman rejoins his teammates at training camp shortly, look for him to improve on last season's poor fantasy effort. If he continues to hold out, Larry English would presumably get more snaps. Last season's first-round pick was a bit of a disappointment in his rookie campaign (just two sacks), but he could improve with additional playing time (IDP sleeper alert).

    OLB Shaun Phillips is a decent IDP option at linebacker but don't be fooled into thinking he's a stud. He won't rack up tackles or sacks and last season's seven forced fumbles probably aren't happening again. Stephen Cooper is the real grab in tackle-heavy formats.

    The departure of Antonio Cromartie will hurt the secondary unit. Antoine Cason will get first crack at the starting corner spot opposite Quentin Jammer, but he lost his nickel spot last season so he's no lock to keep the gig. The team brought in former Bear Nathan Vasher as an insurance policy, but neither has the playmaking ability of a Cromartie. Eric Weddle and Jammer are both solid IDP plays in the secondary.

    Overall, the Chargers D/ST should finish in the top half of the league in terms of fantasy points (think somewhere around No. 12 - No. 15). They're not all that great from a sacks/turnovers standpoint, but their divisional opponents are extremely weak. Darren Sproles' ability to take it to the house on kick/punt returns also looms large.

    The Skinny

    • The Chargers have begun negotiating with left tackle Marcus McNeill. As stated previously, if they can get a deal done, this will be huge for Philip Rivers. If they can't, it's open season on the Chargers Pro Bowl QB (see photo above).

    • Legedu Naanee and Buster Davis are locked in a battle for the team's No. 2 WR spot. Buster Davis has always had the talent and was the team's first-round pick a few years ago, but Legedu Naanee has proven himself the more sure-handed, reliable, and versatile of the two. Not only does he have the cooler name, but he can operate out of the slot and line up as the QB on Wildcat formations (he played QB in high school and was recruited to call signals at Boise State). This one could get interesting. Whoever wins might very well be the Chargers most fantasy-friendly receiver this season ... of course, if Vincent Jackson doesn't return.

    • Darrell Stuckey and Steve Gregory are competing for the strong safety spot. Keep an eye on that battle as the victor could be an IDP surprise.


    Read More: NFL Sleepers Draft Advice NFL Preseason IDP Leagues 2010 Team Previews buster+davis, chargers, Darren+Sproles, legedu+naanee, malcom+floyd, mike+tolbert, philip+rivers, Ryan+Matthews, Shaun+Phillips, shawn+merriman

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