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Chargers to draft (or avoid) in 2014

By Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer

Ryan Mathews hopes to elude defenders -- and Donald Brown stealing touches -- in 2014. (USATSI)
Ryan Mathews hopes to elude defenders -- and Donald Brown stealing touches -- in 2014.(USATSI)

The Chargers have plenty of interesting Fantasy options this season after going over their preseason outlooks. I shared my thoughts on Philip Rivers in our early look at busts, but let's take a look at Ryan Mathews, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green here.

  • Ryan Mathews: He finished 2013 as the No. 12 running back in standard leagues, but his production could decline this season with the addition of Donald Brown. The Chargers are saying all the right things about Mathews, who is entering a contract year, and we still consider him a No. 2 Fantasy running back. But Brown's presence is going to hurt Mathews, especially with coach Mike McCoy saying he could use a hot-hand approach for his backfield. "You get in there, you get on a little bit of a roll and you're going to stay in there," McCoy said. "Donald is a perfect fit for our system, and that's why we went after him and got him. He understands what we want to do offensively, not only in the passing game but in the running game and pass protection. ... We'll let Donald come in there and show us what he can do, and we'll try to take advantage of what he does best and go with the flow of the game."
  • Keenan Allen: As Larry Hartstein pointed out in his blog on rookie receivers, Allen became just the second first-year wideout since 2005 (A.J. Green) to gain 1,000 receiving yards. He did that really from Week 4 on when his role expanded following Malcom Floyd's neck injury. This season, Allen should still be a solid Fantasy receiver, but tougher coverage and unrealistic expectations could hurt his value. You should target Allen in Round 5 at the earliest. As McCoy said, "When you're a young player and had the success he did, now he's got a bulls-eye on his back," McCoy said. "Everybody is going to know where he is every play. The success he had, that comes with the territory. And that's a good problem to have."
  • Antonio Gates: We could be at the beginning of the end for Gates, who will be 34 when the season starts and looked slow in 2013. He still managed 77 catches for 872 yards, but his four touchdowns were his lowest total since his rookie season in 2003. Ladarius Green will become more of a factor this season, and Gates could continue to decline. I wouldn't discount him completely, but he's not someone to even consider as a No. 1 tight end coming into the year. He's only worth drafting as a late-round flier in deeper leagues but is more likely a bye-week or injury replacement this season.
  • Ladarius Green: He is going to be a popular sleeper this season after the way he closed the 2013 campaign, along with Gates starting to slow down. Green had at least eight Fantasy points in four of his final seven games, and McCoy said that he wished he used Green more earlier in the year. We can see the Chargers using plenty of two tight-end sets, and Green could emerge as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end during the season. He should be considered a No. 2 option on Draft Day, but he is worth stashing based on his potential. "What happened with him last year he made the most of his opportunities," McCoy said. "Early in the year, they were limited. It takes time. When he was in at the right time, he was continuing to make plays. You wish you would have done that a little earlier."
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