After two seasons derailed by injuries that saw him play just nine total games, Keenan Allen had a career year in 2017 when he played every game. "I put in a lot of hard work and dedication to play 16 games," Allen said in an interview with CBS Sports. "Like I've been telling people, if I show you 16 games you see what happens." Allen set career highs in targets, catches and yards in 2017, and he had seven games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league. Despite the missed time, shouldn't be considered injury prone: He suffered a lacerated kidney in 2015 that cost him eight games, and he had a torn ACL in Week 1 in 2016. With the injuries behind him, Allen expects to continue having career years. He is a No. 1 Fantasy receiver in all leagues, and he should be drafted in Round 2 this year.
Allen (rest) won't play in Saturday's preseason opener against the Cardinals, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic reports. Starting quarterback Philip Rivers has also been given the day off as the Chargers attempt to keep their stars healthy in advance of the regular season. In Allen's absence, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin should serve as the first-string receivers Saturday.
Allen could spend more time playing the slot in three-wide formations with TE Hunter Henry (knee) out for the season, ESPN.com's Eric D. Williams reports. Allen is the rare wideout who seems equally comfortable outside or in the slot, rotating between positions with ease. Not that there was ever much question about his volume, but Henry's absence should erase any potentials fears about Allen significantly dropping off from last year's mark of 9.9 targets per game. The 26-year-old may have reinforced his reputation as a possession receiver with only six TDs on 102 catches, but he actually led all WRs in both red-zone targets (24) and inside-the-10 targets (15). Given that Allen, Henry and Antonio Gates accounted for 75.5 percent of the Chargers' targets inside the 10-yard line last season, Allen figures to have plenty of scoring opportunities in 2018. It remains to be seen if he'll take advantage, after failing to capitalize on those chances last year. There is some chance the team re-signs Gates, and 2017 first-round pick Mike Williams (6-foot-4, 220) is also an obvious candidate to handle some of the red-zone looks that would've gone to Henry.
Allen caught nine of his 12 targets for 133 yards and a touchdown in the 30-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday. He also recovered a fumble for a touchdown early in the contest. Finally healthy after two seasons ruined by serious injuries, Allen capitalized on his immense potential by recording 102 receptions and 1,393 receiving yards, easily career-highs for the 25-year-old. So long as veteran quarterback Philip Rivers returns for his 15th season in the NFL, Allen projects as a potential early-round selection in redraft leagues come the fall, particularly in points-per-reception leagues given the 25-year-old's immense usage rate (159 targets in 2017).
Allen finished with five catches for 63 yards on 10 targets in Sunday's 14-7 win over the Jets. Allen turned in a pedestrian performance offensively, with the highlight of his day actually coming on a defensive play as he intercepted Jets quarterback Bryce Petty on a Hail Mary to end the first half. After four consecutive performances over 100 receiving yards, Allen has cooled off with a combined 117 yards in his past two appearances. Los Angeles is in the thick of the AFC playoff race at 8-7, so expect a full workload for the team's top wide receiver against Oakland next week.
Allen (back) isn't listed on the Chargers' injury report Wednesday. Allen was carted off the field in the second half of Saturday's 30-13 loss to the Chiefs, but he apparently is back at full strength ahead of the Week 16 game against the Jets. He'll look to get back on the right side of the century mark in receiving yardage after concluding a four-game streak where he recorded at least six catches and 105 yards.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||Kansas City Chiefs||30||23.35|
|3||09/23||@Los Angeles Rams||11||18.47|
|4||09/30||San Francisco 49ers||23||20.38|
|15||12/14||@Kansas City Chiefs||30||23.35|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||85||58||727||3||38||12.53||90|