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State of the Chargers - Training Camp Preview
John Tuvey
July 30, 2009
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This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2009.
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ARI ATL BAL BUF CAR CHI
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Training Camp Opens: July 26 (Rookie), July 31 (Veteran)
Head Coach: Norv Turner (3rd year)
Stadium: Qualcomm Stadium  Surface: Grass
2009 Schedule   2009 Roster   2008 Statistics   2008 Record: 8-8

QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2006 52 63 1 462 285 62% 3391 11.9 22 9 16 12
2007 40 26 1 470 280 60% 3158 11.3 21 16 26 16
2008 31 84 0 478 312 65% 4009 12.8 34 11 8 2

Quarterback - With the running game operating at a level below what was expected, the Chargers asked Philip Rivers and the passing game to do more. Rivers was up to the challenge, helping to produce a top-10 passing game and career highs across the board. Fantasy owners would love a repeat from Rivers, but the Chargers might prefer a return to the more ground-heavy attack of the previous seasons. That result depends heavily, of course, on the health of a certain Hall-of-Fame running back.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2006 462 2482 5.4 31 110 76 69% 637 3 1 1 1
2007 440 1987 4.5 18 120 83 69% 550 4 4 8 1
2008 385 1572 4.1 13 139 106 76% 1030 8 18 6 7

Running Backs - LaDainian Tomlinson was merely human last year, opening the door for Darren Sproles to flash some ability, put up some numbers, and earn himself the franchise tag. Overall the Chargers’ ground game wasn’t quite as effective as it had been in years past, but it wasn’t awful. The health of a couple key offensive linemen—specifically left tackle Marcus McNeill—will go a long way towards returning the Bolts to the top of the running game rankings. Both LT and Sproles are essentially playing on one-year deals, so it will be interesting to see just how the workload shakes out. Tomlinson is healthy but aging; Sproles is undersized but lightning quick. The backup plan consists of Michael Bennett and Gartrell Johnson, a prospect the Chargers would prefer not to face in 2009.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 214 126 59% 1759 14 9 27 26
2007 401 210 52% 2940 14.0 12 7 19
2008 220 131 60% 2148 16.4 16 17 7

Wide Receivers - San Diego wideouts saw diminished quantity but increased quality last year, thanks largely to a career year from Vincent Jackson. The result was a second consecutive 33% jump in touchdown receptions despite fewer catches and yardage. With Jackson emerging as the go-to guy Chris Chambers is finding himself overlooked; career lows in catches (33) and yardage (462) didn’t help. The Chargers are wafer-thin after their starters; Malcolm Floyd has been okay, but Buster Davis is a bust as a former first-round pick and after that you’re picking through the likes of Legedu Naanee, Kassim Osgood, and rookie Demetrius Byrd. Is it any wonder a tight end led the Chargers in receiving for the fifth straight year?

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 141 85 60% 1015 11.9 12 4 1
2007 132 85 64% 1070 12.6 10 5 4
2008 111 75 68% 831 11.1 10 11 3

Tight Ends
- Antonio Gates remains an elite fantasy tight end, though a lingering toe injury sapped some of his yardage last season. Brandon Manumaleuna is strictly a blocker, but maybe Kris Wilson—the one-time heir to Tony Gonzalez in Kansas City—could be groomed to take over Gates’ duties somewhere down the road. Jackson posted more yards than Gates last year and almost got him in catches, so the tight end dynasty in San Diego may be coming to a close.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - LT is no longer the consensus top fantasy pick; in fact, in many drafts he’s falling into the second half of the first round. Don’t expect him to get any preseason work—he hasn’t had an exhibition carry in years—but training camp should provide a feel for how the Chargers backfield touches will shake out. From that, the rest of the San Diego offense will take its cues.

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