Throughout the 2012 offseason, we will be taking a look at each NFL team from a keeper/dynasty perspective. Keeper leagues are very unique, with widely varying formats, but the following are observations based on reasonable draft positions in 2011. Further discussion of different keeper/dynasty decisions and trades is welcome in the comments below. Today, we look at the Offseason Odyssey of the San Diego Chargers…
Finish: 8-8 (2nd AFC West)
2012 Draft Order: 18th overall pick
2011 Leaders: QB- Philip Rivers: 4624 pass yds, 27/20 td/int RB- Ryan Mathews: 1091 rush yds, 6 td, 50 rec, 455 yds WR- Vincent Jackson: 60 rec, 1106 yds, 9 td TE- Antonio Gates: 64 rec, 778 yds, 7 td
On the Fence? KEEP him: Malcom Floyd- A player like Malcom Floyd could become a sneaky keeper this offseason, depending on what happens with teammate Vincent Jackson in free agency (more on that below). Floyd was very productive while on the field last season, as illustrated by averaging 91 receiving yards per game over the Chargers’ last 5 games. If V-Jax leaves San Diego this offseason, Floyd has proven he can excel in the Charger offense and there will be lots of targets to go around. Floyd would be a nice value while costing a very late round pick, or could be nice for depth in leagues that keep a larger number of players.
On the Fence? CUT him: Antonio Gates- Make no mistake, Antonio Gates is a great tight end, and has had a fantastic career. However, Gates’ title of top tight end has been stolen away by Gronk/Graham (depending on preference) and he has arguably slipped behind a few other tight ends as well. Gates will most likely still be a top 5 tight end in 2012 fantasy drafts, but the decision to make an aging player like Gates a keeper needs to be based on the value you can squeeze out of the situation. If your keeper setup requires that you cough up a higher pick than where you selected Gates in 2011, or if you have another player that has a chance to provide a higher return on the keeper slot he is occupying, let Gates go. Plus, the time you save from not slaving over San Diego’s injury reports all season can be spent on something more productive….like playing X-box.
Dynasty Vault: Ryan Mathews- In 2011, Mathews finally showed what he is capable of is he is (mostly) healthy. The second year back from Fresno State finished 10th in the NFL in rushing yards, and 5th in receiving yards among running backs. Although the injury risk is a serious threat to Mathews’ production, he will still be only 25 when the 2012 season kicks off and fellow backfield mate (and sniper) Mike Tolbert should be playing elsewhere via free agency. Following a 2011 season at 4.9 yards per carry and with receiving skills on par with Forte/Foster/McCoy type running backs, Mathews is a dynamic back that will carry dynasty teams for years.
Dynasty Dump: Mike Tolbert- The sun has set on Tolbert’s time in San Diego, as the portly running back is currently a free agent. After a solid 2010, Tolbert began 2011 in the same fashion until giving way to the more talented Ryan Mathews over the latter stages of the season. Tolbert is still a nice complimentary back who can be utilized in the passing game (3.6 catches per game in 2011), but the 2012 team/scheme will go a long way in determining Tolbert’s value. Check and see what type of value Tolbert can bring in trade with a team that is shallow at running back.
Dynasty Target: Vincent Brown- Brown didn’t blow up in 2011 like a few of his fellow rookie wide receivers, but that is precisely why this guy is a great player to target this offseason. Similar to Malcom Floyd, Brown would be in line for a huge jump in playing time (and sweet, sweet fantasy points) if Vincent Jackson leaves town. Add that to the fact that Brown just turned 23, while Floyd is 30, and this could be the next big Charger wide receiver. Make your move and acquire Brown before the 2012 destination of V-Jax is revealed. That could be the difference between acquiring Brown cheaply, or paying inflated “sleeper” prices next summer.
Offseason Interest: Vincent Jackson Contract- The biggest weapon among Charger receivers is currently enjoying free agency, which is a big issue for the Chargers as well as fantasy football players. Clearly, fantasy players are the most important, so let’s talk about the potential fake football fallout. The San Diego offense threw for 289 yards per game in 2011 (good for 6th in the NFL), so the number one receiver in town will be piling up a serious stack of fantasy points in 2012. If V-Jax remains in San Diego, he will continue to be a top flight wide out. If he bounces out of San Diego, the door is open for Malcom Floyd or Vincent Brown to step into the San Diego spotlight alongside Philip Rivers and Ron Burgundy.