AFC West Dynasty Capsule: San Diego Chargers

Ken KellyContributor IIIJuly 9, 2010

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers looks to pass against the New York Jets during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

The Chargers have been both a perennial favorite and a perennial disappointment in the NFL over the past few years. Luckily for dynasty fantasy football owners, many of the Chargers players' performances have been much more fruitful than the team’s playoff success.

Countless dynasty owners have won titles led by such stars as Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and LaDainian Tomlinson the past few seasons, while the Chargers themselves have yet to win the Super Bowl.

San Diego has some bona fide fantasy superstars as well as some up-and-coming blue chip prospects to analyze. While the team faces a major transition at running back after letting LaDainian Tomlinson walk away, there are a few other questions that must be answered from a dynasty fantasy football perspective as well.

Let’s take a look at San Diego in this electrifying edition of the dynasty capsule.

Players in their Prime

Philip Rivers QB
Let’s face it, this has been Rivers’ team, not Tomlinson's, for some time now. After an amazing season that featured 4,254 passing yards and 28 touchdowns against just nine interceptions, Rivers erased any doubt that he’s a top five quarterback in dynasty leagues.

With Tomlinson gone, he becomes the undisputed face of this franchise. Expect many more years of elite fantasy production from Rivers.

Antonio Gates TE

Gates has the ability to lead the tight end position in scoring every season. He returns as the top target in the potent San Diego passing attack after posting a ridiculous career high of 1,157 yards, to go with eight touchdowns, in 2009.

While still in his prime, there are some concerns with Gates, though. He’s 30-years-old and seems to always be fighting some different ailments, most notably a significant toe injury. If I’m not an owner of a competing team this season, I’d start kicking the tires to see if I could get a good return for him in a trade.

If I’m competitive, I’d bank on him giving me elite production, as he’s had six straight seasons with at least eight touchdowns.

Darren Sproles RB
He won’t be the featured back, as some would have hoped, but he’s still a decent flex option in most fantasy leagues. The Chargers seem content with giving Ryan Mathews a huge workload for as long as the rookie can handle it. The 343 rushing yards and 497 receiving yards seem like a realistic expectation from Sproles. He’s also a great handcuff for Mathews owners.

Rising Players

Ryan Mathews RB

Dynasty league owners rejoiced when the Chargers traded up to select Mathews in the NFL Draft. As one of the few featured backs in the league, he immediately becomes the consensus No. 1 pick in rookie only dynasty drafts, and a borderline first rounder in startup dynasty leagues.

While that may seem pretty risky for a rookie, his situation and commitment from the coaching staff couldn’t be better. Combine that with an explosive offense that doesn’t allow defenses to stack the box against their runners and you have a star in waiting.

Malcom Floyd WR

He has a golden opportunity with Vincent Jackson out for anywhere from three to 10 games this season. Floyd was fourth in the league in yards per catch last season and had nine catches for 140 yards when Vincent Jackson sat out in Week 17.

His presence made Chris Chambers expendable and you have to expect a breakout since he’s in a contract year. If the Chargers have enough confidence in him, Jackson could be gone sooner rather than later.

Legedu Naanee WR

His name is fun to say, that’s for sure. The former Boise State Bronco has been a little slow to develop and produced a pedestrian 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns last season. However, the coaching staff has shown enough faith in him to feel comfortable having Naanee start along with Floyd during Vincent Jackson’s upcoming absence.

A good showing could lock him into the fold for a long time to come.

Players with Falling Values

Vincent Jackson WR

There’s simply no doubting his ability as a top-tier wideout. He led the Chargers with 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns last year. When you watch Jackson, you still feel like he’s also just scratching the surface.

Unfortunately, his looming suspension, possible holdout to Week 10, and off-the-field behavior are major red flags. While his value is certainly not tanking, it would be very difficult to feel comfortable with him as your long-term No. 1 wide receiver right about now.

Craig Davis WR

Davis was supposed to add some stability to the wide receiver position, but it simply looks like that’s not going to happen. He’ll likely vault to the No. 3 wideout spot with Jackson out, but expecting much from him in the long-term seems to be fool’s gold.

Sleeper

Shawnbrey McNeal RB

Not many know about McNeal, but he should be a player to monitor. The former SMU Mustang had an incredibly productive year and likely should have stayed at school for his senior season. June Jones’ loss is the San Diego’s gain, though. If Mathews were to get hurt, McNeal has some ability.

Super Sleeper


Jonathan Crompton QB

He may not make the team and probably shouldn’t push Billy Volek for the backup job soon, but he does have talent. Crompton was expected to go a little higher in the draft and has a lot of work to do this summer. Keep an eye on him in dynasty leagues, though. We all saw what happened with Charlie Whitehurst.

Summary

The Chargers are a serious contender in the AFC yet again this season. Dynasty league owners are salivating at the numbers expected from Rivers and Gates, and they are very intrigued by Mathews as well.

With Vincent Jackson’s exploits opening the door for some other wide receivers to shine, there’s a lot to track with this franchise from a dynasty fantasy football perspective.

It wouldn’t be a shock if this was the year where the Bolts performance finally matched their elite fantasy numbers.

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