San Diego Chargers 2012 Fantasy Preview
The San Diego Chargers failed to reach the playoffs in 2011, but they didn’t fail to deliver for fantasy owners. Philip Rivers threw a career-high 20 interceptions, but he also found his way to 4,600+ passing yards and 27 scores, while Ryan Mathews, Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson were all better than solid fantasy options when healthy.
Jackson isn’t with the Chargers anymore, but the other guys are gearing up for a big season. It could be Norv Turner’s last hurrah in San Diego if the team doesn’t produce on the field, but we all can rest easy knowing these Chargers have the goods to produce in fantasy football.
Here’s a full breakdown of all the players that could have an impact on your fantasy roster this year:
QB Philip Rivers
People get hung up on Rivers’ 25 turnovers last year too much. That stunk, but before 2011 the guy has more than 20 total turnovers in his career just once. His 11 touchdowns to just three picks over the season’s final five games tell you he’s more than okay to draft in 2012. You can get him past the middle rounds and he still brings you QB1 value. Just sickening.
RB Ryan Mathews
Mathews racked up over 1,000 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 2011, despite missing two games and losing a ton of touches to Mike Tolbert. Mathews is all alone in the back-field this year, though, and as long as he stays healthy, he’s a lock to blow up. He has some risk to him, but there’s no doubting the top-five ability here.
RB Ronnie Brown
Brown looks washed up, but the Chargers aren’t going to be demanding a ton out of him as Mathews’ top backup, so long as Mathews stays healthy. He might catch some balls and do the Wildcat here and there, but he’s not even a must-have handcuff these days.
RB Jackie Battle
Battle is a downhill runner without much flash, but he actually wasn’t terrible as the Chiefs starter for a good portion of 2011. With that said, Battle will need injuries ahead of him to see playing time. He’ll otherwise spend the majority of 2012 on special teams.
FB Le’Ron McClain
McClain has shown in the past that he can be a featured runner if called upon, but he’s a better blocker than a runner, and that’ll be his role in San Diego. He could take on a bit of a Tolbert role and snag some touchdowns, but I wouldn’t go crazy trying to predict how many. He can’t be drafted.
WR Robert Meachem
Meachem never blew up in New Orleans, but I firmly believe he was held back by their system. He’s got the size and speed to evolve into a number one receiver, and now he simply has to show up and get it done. With Rivers tossing him deep balls, there’s a real chance of that happening. I’ll draft him as a solid WR2 with some interesting upside.
WR Malcom Floyd
I can see huge things for Floyd if he stays healthy. He topped 770 yards and five scores in each of the past two seasons, despite missing four and five games in each, respectively. Floyd’s tear of four touchdowns and over 400 yards over the Chargers’ last five games last year shouldn’t go unnoticed. He’ll enter 2012 as a WR3 with WR2 potential.
WR Eddie Royal
Royal had a fantastic rookie season back in 2008, and then faded out of Denver’s offense over the next three years. With that said, I think coaching and talent at quarterback hurt him a lot. Now he’s in San Diego where he knows his role is working out of the slot, and I think he could flourish. He has competition behind him in Vincent Brown, though, so he’ll start 2012 with WR4 value. He’s a guy to watch, though.
WR Vincent Brown
Brown is definitely another guy to watch, but at the moment he doesn’t have a role that demands him to be drafted. He has big play ability and could carve out a role eventually in 2012, but for now is the 4th option at receiver. He’s still worth a late-round flier.
TE Antonio Gates
Gates isn’t the physical specimen he once was, now 32 years old, but he looks to finally be healthy as the 2012 season approaches. As long as he stays that way, he could have one of his best seasons in years with Vincent Jackson gone. Rivers knows he can rely on Gates over the middle, and he still brings excellent red-zone ability. He’s still a TE1 and my third-ranked tight end for 2012.
TE Randy McMichael
McMichael is a shell of his former athletic self, but he always has a chance to be a stop-gap option during the season due to Gates missing 9 games over the past two years. His play-making is gone, but he could still bring TE2 value if everything goes his way.
K Nate Kaeding
Kaeding missed nearly all of 2011 with a torn acl, but is healthy again and ready to be a top fantasy kicker in 2012. The best part is his tear was to his planting leg, so his kicking leg is as strong as ever. He’s easily a top-10 option, with a real shot at cracking the top-five this season.
Backed by safety Eric Weddle, the Chargers have one of the more talented defenses in the NFL. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, talent doesn’t always mean success, as the Chargers finished as the 24th overall fantasy defense. A lot of that was brought on by turnovers from the offense, but the ranking is what it is. With that said, this is a talented unit that is primed for a turn around, especially with the addition of potential IDP stud, rookie linebacker Melvin Ingram. They’re best suited as a DEF2, but they have the potential to be a solid DEF1 this year.