Fantasy Football Projections for Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, More Chargers If Tyrod Taylor Starts
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler
- Sean Koerner reveals his fantasy football projections for Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler and more Chargers players if Tyrod Taylor is the starter.
While Philip Rivers’ signing in Indianapolis has directed everyone’s focus to how this impacts the Colts, one thing we need to figure out is how Rivers’ departure impacts the Chargers’ fantasy studs.
On Wednesday we got some clarity on how the Chargers intend to handle their quarterback situation with reports indicating they aren’t expected to bring in a veteran. With the sixth overall pick in the draft, it is likely they target a QB such as Justin Herbert, but since the situation is still very much up in the air, I wanted to at least take a stab at projecting how the Chargers offense would look with Tyrod Taylor starting most — if not the entire — 2020 season.
As the Bills’ offensive coordinator in 2016, head coach Anthony Lynn already has experience with Taylor. And we already have a pretty good sense of what to expect from Tyrod at this point in his career, so with the talent on L.A.’s roster, between 210 and 240 passing yards per game would be a fair starting point.
His rushing upside is what always fueled his fantasy value, though it’s fair to assume at 31 years old, that will be on the decline. So altogether, I’m treating Taylor as a low-end QB2 assuming the Chargers do not draft a QB in Round 1.
Austin Ekeler is now the Chargers’ lead back with Melvin Gordon likely to sign elsewhere. During MG3’s four-game holdout in 2019, Ekeler put up the second-most fantasy points at RB behind only Christian McCaffrey.
It remains to be seen if Ekeler can even handle a 200 rush- and 100 reception-type workload, but we have to remember there were similar doubts about McCaffrey heading into 2018. Ekeler has a similar frame, so we’ll want to monitor whether there are any reports about him “bulking up” to be able to handle anywhere close to 200 carries.
I’m usually skeptical of pass-catching back once a dual-threat QB takes over; often dual-threat QBs opt to use their legs if plays breaks down rather than using their RB as a safety valve. But LeSean McCoy had two of his top-five seasons in terms of receptions with Taylor under center between 2015 and 2017 — a positive sign that Ekeler may not see too much of a drop in targets.
Still, this will all come down to how much the Chargers trust Ekeler’s ability to handle a full workload.
Keenan Allen is one of the best route runners in the NFL and is open on nearly every play. He’s the type of wide receiver who will make his QB look that much better. Taylor really hasn’t had many quality WRs to throw to over his career: In his first 2.5 games as a Brown, he heavily targeted Jarvis Landry, who went 7/106/0, 5/69/0 and 8/103/0 over those three games. I think we can expect something similar with Allen, who we have come to expect high reception and yardage totals with low TD output from.
Mike Williams could be hurt the most from the fallout. He’s a bigger wideout who has difficulty getting separation, and we’ve seen Taylor struggle with these types of wideouts like Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins.
It’s unlikely this offense can support four players putting up fantasy value week-to-week. Williams is very likely to be the odd man out.
Hunter Henry may be able to avoid too much of a drop-off going from Rivers to Taylor. One of Tyrod’s favorite targets in his three seasons as a starter for the Bills was none other than Charles Clay. Once Taylor left Buffalo in 2018, we saw Clay’s production fall off a cliff. Now you can make the case that was due to his age and then moving to a TE un-friendly team like the Cardinals, but my point is that we’ve seen Taylor lean on his TE in the past and I consider Henry to be way more talented than Clay.
I lowered Henry’s overall numbers quite a bit, but I’m wondering if we see his average draft position fall outside of the top 10, opening up some value.
My Projections with Taylor As Starter
- Taylor: 3,375 passing yards; 20.3 pass touchdowns; 371 rushing yards; 3.3 rush TDs; QB20
- Ekeler: 790 rush yards; 4.4 rush TDs; 74 receptions; 643 rec yards; 4.4 rec TDs; RB8
- Allen: 78 receptions; 936 rec yards; 5.5 rec TDs; WR23
- Williams: 42 receptions; 630 rec yards; 4.2 rec TDs; WR62
- Henry: 54 receptions; 637 rec yards; 5.1 rec TDs; TE9