NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Chargers offensive projections with Tyrod Taylor under center
The Chargers say they are sticking with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Here's what it means for their offensive weapons.
Despite the fact that Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are still available, the Los Angeles Chargers appear set to start their season with Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback. I do expect they'll draft a quarterback as well, but Taylor will start Week 1 unless something drastic happens. So it's worthwhile to ask what the offense will look like with him in charge.
The first challenge in projecting this offense is that the Chargers threw 597 passes in 2019. Taylor's career high was 436 attempts in 15 games in 2016. I've projected them for 548 attempts in 2020, which is about 30 attempts below the 2019 league median. The second step was figuring out how much Taylor will run. In his three years as a starter, he averaged between 5.5-6.9 rush attempts per game. But he'll be 31 before the season starts, so I've cut that back to just below four attempts. Still, he projects for 319 rushing yards, which will keep him interesting in leagues that only reward four points per pass attempt. Finally, I tried to figure out how Taylor was likely to distribute his targets. Here's a chart showing Taylor's three years as a starter vs. the Chargers 2019 distribution rates.
Taylor in Buffalo
2019 Los Angeles Chargers
Taylor's target rate for running backs would have been above average for the league last year but is a huge drop off from the Chargers' league-high rate. It's pretty easy to project regression in that regard, but the departure of Melvin Gordon could mean that Austin Ekeler's target drop is minimal.
Both Taylor and the 2019 Chargers targeted receivers at a below-average rate, but that doesn't mean Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are projected to repeat 2019. Taylor has never been as efficient as Philip Rivers, even a down Rivers year. And as I said above, I'm projecting 49 fewer passes for the offense as a whole. Both Allen and Williams are projected for a slight down tick in volume and efficiency, which makes Allen a mid-range No. 2 and Williams a boom-or-bust flex.
Here are my full Chargers projections as of March 18:
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