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Rivers is an exceptional NFL quarterback who often has put up very strong statistics despite average talent around him. He has a strong arm, makes good decisions and has always hovered around being the top fantasy quarterback without ever really reaching that peak. He has not missed a single game since the 2005 season as well. He has been top-five three times and top-nine six times and he is a consistent and dependable fantasy starter. Last season he threw for 4793 yards with 29 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He has thrown for 4000+ yards in seven of the past eight seasons.
Clemons is an average NFL veteran quarterback entering his eleventh season. Only twice in his career did he throw more than 100 passes in a season and in those two seasons he did (492 total attempts in 2007 and 2013) he was barely at an average level.
He would be a caretaker, not a difference maker if pressed into action. He has 629 career attempts with 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
Melvin Gordon had an extremely disappointing rookie season with the Chargers, averaging only 3.5 yards per carry and scoring no touchdowns. The offensive line play in front of him was terrible and he had some damage in his knee that limited his effectiveness. He had surgery to clean up the knee this offseason and he still has all the tools of an elite NFL running back. He is ultra quick, explosive, has good vision and can run around or through a tackle. He works hard, plays hard and can catch the ball well out of the backfield. He will be very motivated to put last season's disaster behind him and I expect a big season.
Danny Woodhead is a 31-year old 5'7 veteran running back that is a beast in the passing game. He caught 81 passes for 756 yards and scored a total of 9 touchdowns last year and while the club would like to see more receptions go to Gordon in year two, Woodhead is so good at this part of the game that he will likely get those looks again in 2016. He has 262 career receptions with 16 receiving touchdowns. Not bad for a dimuinitive running back from Chadron State (not exactly a football hotbed).
Oliver is a servicable NFL talent at best as his below par 3.6 yards per carry average in his first two seasons. This undrafted runner from the University of Buffalo is a nice story at only 5'7 but is quick and has decent pop with his 208 pounds. He is clearly the 3rd option in this offense.
Keenan Allen exploded onto the NFL scene in 2013 as a 3rd round pick steal from California. He caught 71 passes for 1046 yards, scored 8 touchdowns and finished as a top-20 fantasy receiver. Big things were expected in 2014 but his play slumped and he finished with 77 receptions for only 783 yards and 4 touchdowns. Last season, he was on fire with 67 receptions for 725 yards and 4 touchdowns in only 8 games when he suffered a lacerated kidney, losing the rest of the year. He has good size, good athletic prowess and a top quarterback throwing him the ball and has come into his own, so healthy, expect a 100+ reception season and 8+ touchdowns.
The Chargers picked up Travis Benjamin in free agency from the Cleveland Browns this past offseason and Benjamin has to be excited to join up with an elite quarterback talent in San Diego. Last year with suspect quarterback play, Benjamin put up 68 receptions for 966 yards and scored 5 times. He is undersized at only 5'10 and 172 pounds but this former 4th round pick from the U has an excellent speed-quickness combination. Expect similar numbers to last year as he will compete for WR2 touches.
Stevie Johnson had a few big seasons with the Bills from 2010-2012 but his play really trailed off over the past few seasons including his first year with the Chargers last year. He only caught 45 passes for 497 yards and 3 scores in ten games but if healthy for all sixteen games, he could certainly put up 800+ yards and certainly so if he holds off Benjamin for the WR2 job. He is a quick, good route runner who could find chemistry with a great quarterback such as Rivers. Watch his situation closely.
What really needs to be said about Gates and the career he has had. He is without question a future Hall of Famer. He has 844 career catches and 104 touchdowns and only nagging injuries kept those numbers from being even higher. He is not the
same athletic, nearly unstoppable force as he was early in his career but he is wiser, runs better routes and still has the trust of Rivers. Expecting him to play in all 16 games may be a stretch but he is still capable of 70+ receptions.
Hunter Henry is a very good receiving tight end who will be groomed to take over for Antonio Gates in another season or two. He is a good route runner, can stretch a field, is a matchup issue for defenses and on top of all of that, he can block. He is the future for the Chargers.
Jeff Cumberland was brought in to back up Gates this season.
Projected Starters: LT King Dunlap, LG Orlando Franklin, C Max Tuerk (rookie), RG D.J. Fluker, RT Joe Barksdale
Key Backups: Matt Slauson, Chris Hairston, Trevor Robinson, Tyreek Burrell, Kenny Wiggins, Chris Watt
The Chargers traded for veteran center Matt Slauson this offseason from the Bears but then drafted talented rookie Max Tuerk from USC. They will battle it out for the starting center position and then the loser will battle for a starting guard role on the left side. The left side of the line features huge linemen King Dunlap and Orlando Franklin who are powerful but limited in space. I think Slauson would be an upgrade at guard as he is capable of more. D.J. Fluker is a former 1st round pick and a run mauler for sure. He can move guys back and open holes. Joe Barksdale is a former 3rd round pick of the Raiders who has bounced around and is a replaceable part at tackle. He can do a good job on straight ahead run blocking but is not a mobile player. The size here is impressive but the technique and athleticism (more important in my opinion are lacking). I think Tuerk taking over center and a more athletic lineman like Slauson taking over guard would improve this group.
Lambo kicked 26 of 32 kicks in his first season with the Chargers