Fantasy Football Draft Prep: What would the Chargers' offense look like without Mike Williams?
With rookie Mike Williams' status very much up in the air heading into training camp, what should expectations for the Chargers' offense look like?
While there's nothing definitive yet (Ian Rapoport tweeted that surgery is not on the table, but Mike Garafolo reports Williams will likely start camp on the PUP), it sure sounds like Williams will at the very least miss the start of training camp. Williams is a rookie who has yet to work with his quarterback and may not before the season starts. It's difficult to imagine him making a significant impact on the Chargers' offense in 2017 at this point, if he plays at all. So what does that mean for the rest of the Chargers?
As deep as the team is at receiver, this isn't cause to downgrade Philip Rivers at all. For the rest of the pass-catchers, it's a boost in expected targets and production. The biggest beneficiary is likely Travis Benjamin or Dontrelle Inman, but they're just moving from fighting for a job to the fringes of Fantasy relevance. The biggest Fantasy mover is easily Tyrell Williams.
Williams stepped up after injuries ravaged this team in 2016 and caught 69 passes for 1,059 yards in his second season. Even with Keenan Allen back, he figures to be a major part of the offense. With Mike Williams in the picture from day one, I would have been concerned he would eventually overtake the elder Williams as the No. 2 receiver. Now I feel confident projecting Tyrell Williams for a season much like 2016, which means he moves into the argument as a borderline No. 2 wide receiver in standard scoring leagues.
Here's a look at the updated rankings and expectations for the Los Angeles Chargers.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
Breaking down the touches
Ken Whisenhunt has twice been the offensive coordinator for the Chargers, and he'll remain in that role under new head coach Anthony Lynn. The Chargers barely ran the ball 40 percent of the time in 2016, but I would expect a more even distribution in 2017. Look back to Whisenhunt's 2013 version of the Chargers offense. That was a 9-7 team that had a much closer to a 50/50 split between runs and passes. I'm not sure this team has 9-7 in them, but I would expect something in between that and last year's 5-11 record.
One thing that hasn't changed with the Chargers is that at least a quarter of their targets go to the tight end position. If you expect them to throw close to 20 percent of their passes to running backs, that leaves just about 55 percent for receivers. That could have turned into a problem with Allen and both Williams' competing for the lion's share. Now it's a little bit more clear.
- Gordon received 64 percent of the team's total carries in 2016 and missed three games. I could be a little low here.
- Tyrell Williams' expectation gets quite the bump, but his upside goes through the roof. He's now a Keenan Allen injury away from being the No. 1 option once again.
- If Antonio Gates misses time, Hunter Henry is going to be a monster.
Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman combined for 105 catches, 1,487 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2016. They don't get much love heading into 2017, but there's still opportunity. Either Benjamin or Inman could step up if Keenan Allen gets hurt again, but if everyone is healthy it's really difficult to see how they have an impact.
There's been a little buzz around Branden Oliver this spring. He's recovered from his Achilles injury and looks like the favorite to back up Gordon. I wouldn't expect him to impact Gordon's rush totals but Oliver could take some work in the passing game if that's when the Chargers choose to rest their starting running back. Oliver had 36 catches in 2014.
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