Deconstructing: San Diego Chargers

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It wasn't too long ago that the Chargers offense ran through LaDainian Tomlinson. Well, times have changed, and fantasy owners must adjust. I don't want any of you to let a championship slip away because you're stuck in 2007. Move on.

This is now Philip Rivers' offense. Did you know the Chargers are dead last in the league in rushing? Did you realize Rivers is in the Top 10 in passing attempts? Yep, as head coach Norv Turner is realizing, the Chargers are built for an aerial attack. Believe me, this a squad that will put up monster passing numbers down the stretch.

It's time to "Deconstruct" the Chargers' offensive cogs.

Rivers was the third ranked QB in fantasy football last year throwing for 4,009 yards and 34 TDs. Amazingly, he posted these numbers while throwing less than 500 times (478 passing attempts/12th most in the league). You would think these numbers would have earned him respect at draft tables. Nope, I even saw Rivers coming off the board after Tony Romo in some leagues. Please.

The Chargers offensive line has been a Richard Heene-like mess. Specifically, injuries to guard Louis Vasquez and All-Pro center Nick Hardwick left massive holes in the line. Thus, the team has been unable to establish any type of consistent rushing game and has been forced to rely on Rivers' gun. Don't expect this situation to change with Hardwick likely sidelined for the rest of the year.

Rivers has thrown for 1,519 yards and seven TDs. He's currently ranked as the 11th best QB despite the fact he has already had his bye. Make a move for Rivers if you can pry him away from a dense owner. As we will discuss, the Chargers are stacked with receiving weapons. Further, Rivers faces the following teams in Weeks 12-16: Chiefs, Browns, Cowboys, Bengals, Titans. Guess what? Each one of those squads is ranked in the bottom third in passing defense. Bombs away.


Rivers is a must-start against a poor Chiefs pass defense (25th ranked in the league). That said, this is one week the Chargers will run the ball more as a result of a big lead, and in attempt to establish offensive balance.

Tomlinson is no longer an elite RB. From 2002-2007, Tomlinson was a model of consistency finishing as a Top Three RB every year. Unfortunately, some owners just don't get it -- success in fantasy depends on future performance. The past performance of a player, even if it was magical and earned you more bragging rights than Wilt Chamberlain after a road game, is only one factor in the player valuation process. It sends me off the deep-end when another owner simply spouts off about past stats when trying to sell me on a player. Don't fall prey to this type of garbage and don't be the dude or dudette who spouts in this way.

L.T.'s year-to-date statistics -- 170 total yards and one TD. Ouch. The formerly dynamic RB used to post those numbers in three quarters of play. Tomlinson has missed time with an ankle injury and has struggled when carrying the rock (3.7 YPC). Understandably, L.T.'s owners are primed and ready to jump ship. Should you buy?

You're probably expecting a resounding "NO" from me based on my previous comments. To the contrary, I am urging you to scoop him up on a value buy, and live with a RB2 with upside. Despite the fact he didn't have spectacular numbers Monday night against the Broncos (100 total yards/0 TDs), Tomlinson looked hungry and was showing some of his former burst.

L.T. is going cheaper than Lenny Dykstra's World Series ring. Now is the time to make your move before Tomlinson faces the Chiefs and Raiders rush defenses over the next two weeks. Sure, the Chargers are going pass-heavy. Nevertheless, there will be plenty of goal line opportunities for the former stud RB, and he still has some upside games left in the tank. Tomlinson is the best buy-low candidate out there.

Darren Sproles was a hot commodity after Week 2 when he had seven catches for 124 receiving yards. Of course, Sproles has done nothing since that time even though Tomlinson was shelved due to injury. The diminutive Sproles won't put up solid rushing numbers (only 2.9 YPC) behind a Swiss cheese offensive line -- he doesn't break enough tackles. You will see some sporadic monster gains out of Sproles, but he will play a secondary role for the remainder of the year. Barring another Tomlinson injury, Sproles is nothing more than a RB4 and spotty flex going forward.


Tomlinson will bust out in this game against a bottom-tier rush defense. Well, as much as Tomlinson can bust out considering his diminishing skills and offensive line. The Chargers are eager to get his confidence back and will feed him the ball in a blowout. L.T. will have two scores in this game. Book it.

Vincent Jackson was a back-end WR1 last year with 59 receptions, 1,098 receiving yards, and seven TDs in 2008. This year, V-Jax is an absolute beast, with this fearless and acrobatic catches down the middle of the field. He will shatter his 2008 numbers. Jackson currently has 24 catches, 419 receiving yards, and three TDs. Trust me, this dude will go off in the second half of the season as the Chargers rip apart soft pass defenses. Don't be afraid to pull off a blockbuster deal to roster him.

Chris Chambers must have some real nasty photos of Norv Turner hidden away in his locker. Seriously, how else could this guy receive so much playing time? Chambers has been targeted 26 times and has only caught eight passes. Really? "Embarrassing" is the first word that comes to my mind. Chambers comes out of breaks like he's in shackles and is no longer a deep threat. I suppose he's bringing veteran leadership to the Chargers receiving corps; he's surely not bringing talent. Chambers is a weak WR4 at best and will continue to lose playing time.

Do you ever watch Chargers games and ponder why Malcom Floyd doesn't get more opportunities? On 37 targets last year, Floyd had 27 receptions, 465 receiving yards, and four TDs. In 2009, Floyd has seven catches for 178 yards (25.4 YPR). Floyd is instant offense; he needs to see more looks. Take a flyer on him in deeper leagues and hope that Turner sees the light or shreds the mysterious photos.


Jackson will have a massive height and strength advantage over Chiefs' CBs Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. As I said, the Chargers won't throw quite as much this week, but Jackson will still find the end zone and have a solid day owning the deep middle of the field.

Antonio Gates is healthy again and tearing up defenses with speed we haven't seen in years. In addition, the emergence of Jackson and the need for defenses to blitz Rivers has opened up sizeable holes for the big TE in the guts of the secondary. Gates is clearly a focal point of the offense with 44 targets (3rd among TEs). He could have a career year if he picks up his TD pace (29 receptions/419 receiving yards/two TDs).


Gates will find plenty of room to roam against a defense that his peers Brent Celek and Todd Heap dominated. Gates will hit for one score on a play-action pass inside the red zone. Look for it.

Hit Bill Root with a tweet @FantasyRoots or e-mail at if you have any pressing start/sit questions.