The LA Chargers finished in last place in the AFC West last year with a record of 5-11. With several losses during the offseason including Melvin Gordan, Phillip Rivers, and Derek Watt, the Chargers have some spots to fill. With an uncertain QB situation, can the Chargers come in to 2019 strong, or will they fall on their face like last year?
3 Position Battles To Watch:
Fullback: Bobby Holly, Gabe Nabers
Veteran fullback and special teamer Derek Watt has left LA to join his brother in Pittsburgh. This leaves not only a hole in the fullback position but on special teams as well. Watt played an important roll on special teams, recording 22% of all tackles on kickoffs and punts in 2019. To replace him the Chargers picked up 2 UDFAs Bobby Holly, and Gabe Nabers. Gabe Nabers rarely saw snaps as a runner at Florida State and did not even start until his junior season. Once he did start, however, he was was excellent in the short-yardage game and on special teams. Holly on the other hand was a fullback turned tight end from Louisiana Tech. At Tech he was an excellent blocker and lead the way for 2nd round pick Cam Akers. Holly also served as a threat in the red zone with 2 TDs in 2019.
Free Safety: Rayshawn Jenkins, Nasir Adderley, Romeo Finley
Rayshawn Jenkins started as the LA Chargers’ free safety in 2019. However, his completion, Nasir Adderley, dealt with injuries in 2019 and was unable to compete for the starting position. Now that Adderley is healthy, the underperforming Jenkins may lose his starting spot in 2020. The wild card in this battle is UDFA Romeo Finley out of Miami. Finley had a solid career while at Miami, but if he wants to compete for the starting spot he will have to improve his deep coverage abilities.
Quarterback: Tyrod Taylor, Justin Herbert
With Phillip Rivers out of LA, a new QB will have to step up to take his place. Tyrod Taylor is a veteran QB who has played for the Ravens, Bills, and Browns prior to his stint with the Chargers. In his last season as a starter, Taylor passed for 14 TDs and 4 INTs with a QBR of 89.2. Taylor’s competition is the rookie Justin Herbert who the Chargers selected 6th overall in the 2020 NFL draft. In his senior year, Herbert passed for 3500 yards and 32 TDs. Although Herbert performed at Oregon, he lacks experience at the NFL level, and some doubt his ability to play in tough games. All of these unknown factors will lead to an interesting position battle at the QB position this offseason.
Ready To Break Out: Jerry Tillery
Tillery was the 28th overall pick in the 2019 draft, however, he has yet to perform. In his final year at Notre Dame Tillery injured his shoulder and that limited his workload in the 2019 season. Despite this Tillery started 3 games and recorded 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. If he comes into training camp healthy, Tillery can beat out his completions and thrive alongside veteran Linval Joseph.
Rookie To Watch: Kenneth Murray
Kenneth Murray was the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 draft. During his final year at Oklahoma Murray, recorded 125 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. He also impressed at the combine with killer speed and excellent movement. To top it all off he is already one of the top DROY candidates. With his versatility and explosiveness, Murray should be a starter come week 1 and will impress once he hits the field.
Fantasy Sleeper: Justin Jackson
With Melvin Gordan out and Austin Ekeler in, Justin Jackson is now the RB2 on the roster. In addition to that, a more dynamic run game will need to be established to make up for less than optimal QB play. Although Ekeler excelled in the pass last year, the LA Chargers had the 5th least amount of run attempts in 2019. If they want to increase those numbers, they may start handing the ball off to Justin Jackson to keep Ekeler fresh for the passing game. So late in fantasy drafts when you’re looking for backup RBs, see if Justin Jackson is on the board, because he may be a steal in the later rounds.