Fantasy football draft season is fast approaching. Prep to win your league with SI.com's ongoing preview, including team-by-team breakdowns that examine each club's key fantasy storyline and much more.
Key fantasy storyline
There's little doubt that the Chargers regret their decision to draft Philip Rivers as a younger franchise quarterback in 2004, and allow Drew Brees to leave. It's been seven years since Brees departed San Diego, and he's still going strong in New Orleans. He's logged three 5,000-yard seasons and holds the single-season record for passing yards.
Meanwhile, Rivers looks washed up.
Not all the blame needs to reside on Rivers' arm. Last season, the 31-year-old dealt with the loss of Vincent Jackson (signed with Tampa Bay), the career decline of 33-year-old future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates and the loss of promising 24-year-old receiver Vincent Brown to a broken ankle in the preseason.
To top off the issues for Rivers, his feature back Ryan Mathews broke each clavicle on separate occasions last season, making him one of the most damaging injury-related busts in fantasy a year ago.
When it rains it pours; the injuries just keep coming for Rivers' targets this preseason. Danario Alexander tore his ACL and is lost for this season after surgery.
However, there is some good news: Brown is back, Chargers added Keenan Allen in the draft and Gates looks healthier and quicker in camp than he has been in years. Rivers has the chance to be a valuable late-round fantasy quarterback in the 4,000-yard, 30-touchdown range, but he'll need breakthroughs from Mathews and Brown, and a renaissance by Gates. They're possible, but not likely.
|San Diego Chargers' 2013 schedule|
|Including a look at how the Chargers' upcoming foes fared defensively in fantasy last season|
Stats via FFToday.com
Aside of the season-opening game against Houston and the home-and-away series against the Broncos, the schedule lines up very favorably for Mathews. He faces teams who ranked in the bottom 10 in fantasy a year ago between Week 3 and Week 7. Rivers and his receivers also have a favorable slate in the first seven weeks before the bye. The schedule strengthens a bit after their break, so consider selling high on them at that point.
QB: Philip Rivers, Charlie Whitehurst
RB: Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Ronnie Brown, Le'Ron McClain
WR: Vincent Brown, Malcom Floyd, Eddie Royal, Keenan Allen, Robert Meachem
TE: Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green, John Phillips
K: Nick Novak
|San Diego Chargers' 2012 defensive rankings|
The Chargers didn't have much name recognition tied to their defense, but they were a productive fantasy unit a year ago because of seven defensive touchdowns, two returns for touchdowns in the kicking game and a remarkable 14 fumble recoveries. Because an owner cannot count on those freak results year to year, consider the Chargers a low-end fantasy defensive unit. The addition of Manti Te'o could bring a marketable name to the unit -- not to mention some run stuffing -- but mostly ignore the individuals here in IDP leagues.