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Draft or Pass: Can Chargers WR Keenan Allen Produce Without Philip Rivers?

The departure of Philip Rivers has negatively impacted the pass-catchers who've stayed behind in Los Angeles. Can Chargers receiver Keenan Allen still get the job done for fantasy owners?

It's never too early to start your fantasy football research, and we at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best information possible heading into your drafts. Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?

Today's video focuses on Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen.

Draft or Pass at current ADP (average draft position): 42 (WR19)

After a record-breaking 2019 season, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen was rewarded for his success by losing his longtime quarterback in Philip Rivers.

Allen finished last season with a career-high in receptions (104) and yards (1199), despite Rivers’ going through one of his worst seasons. Last year, Rivers put up the lowest TD% of his career as well as the worst adjusted yards gained per pass attempt (AY/A) since 2006. From 2008-2010, Rivers led the league in both yards gained per pass attempt, as well as AY/A, and taking chances downfield has been a staple throughout his time with the Chargers.

As for Allen, he’s now played in all 16 games for three consecutive seasons after playing an average of 9.5 from 2013-2016. From 2017-2019, he’s seen an average of 148 targets, 101 receptions, 1262.7 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. For context, Allen’s average season would have landed him fifth amongst all receivers, fourth in receiving yards, and tied for 24th with six TDs. He finished as the WR6 in PPR a season ago, yet has now fallen all the way to WR19.

Is that type of ADP freefall warranted for Allen even with the switch of Rivers to some variation of Tyrod Taylor and new rookie QB Justin Herbert? He's answered all questions about durability over the last three seasons, and the numbers have him pegged as a WR1 the previous three seasons. Taylor doesn't sling it around like Rivers, but can the dropoff be that precipitous?

At ChargerReport, Jason B. Hirschhorn discussed last year's offensive philosophy shift with Shane Steichen taking over for Ken Whisenhunt, and how it went away from the pass-dominant approach of the past.

“Though the change didn't turn the Chargers into a juggernaut after promoting Steichen, it did result in a shift away from Whisenhunt's pass-heavy approach to one that more heavily featured the ground game. In Steichen's first outing as play-caller, the Chargers ended a four-game streak of failing to reach 40 rushing yards as a team, cruising past the mark with 159. Running the ball didn't always come quite that easy under Steichen, but the offense stayed more balanced under his watch than it looked previously.”

In a 12-team PPR league, Allen's ADP stands at 42 (WR19), putting him as a mid-round pick in the 4th round of fantasy drafts. That ranking seemed low at first glance, but it's more of a fair reality for what Los Angeles wants to do on offense, particularly with the pass-catching skill-set of Austin Ekeler in the backfield. The new-look, more risk-averse Chargers offense will substantially shrink Allen's target share as well as his aDOT in 2020. With higher upside players like Calvin Ridley, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, and D.J. Chark in a similar range, I think I'm more likely to roll the dice on potential, rather than the security of a high floor player like Allen. I'm passing at his current ADP.



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