Will Melvin Gordon be involved in the passing game?
Mike Clay has taken to the airwaves to host a Pro Football Focus fantasy football show on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (10 a.m. ET weekdays – Sirius 210 & XM 87). In addition to his strategy and insight, Clay has had the opportunity to bring in beat writers around the nation to provide an insider fantasy spin on the teams they cover.
On Thursday, he spoke with Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gehlken touches on the recent Stevie Johnson hype, cleared up rookie Melvin Gordon’s role in the passing game, and more. You can find Gehlken on Twitter @utgehlken.
Will Melvin Gordon Be Involved In The Passing Game?
“The Chargers are in a position where they don’t need to rely on Gordon in the passing game,” Gehlken said. “They want an impact rusher and that’s what they hope Gordon will be. Danny Woodhead will be as involved as he was before his injury. Branden Oliver looks even better so far. [Donald] Brown should still be involved. It’s a deep backfield. Gordon is not going to lead the backfield in targets, but if you’re talking about who is going to lead in touches, it’s probably going to be Gordon.”
Woodhead caught a ridiculous 76 of 83 targets in 2013. It’s looking like Gordon will be a much better fantasy value in standard scoring leagues.
Buy Into The Stevie Johnson Hype
Free agent acquisition Stevie Johnson has received a lot of buzz lately. He is an excellent fit for anticipation quarterback Philip Rivers, and the duo has already developed a nice chemistry over the offseason. Gehlken cleared up Johnson’s role in the offense.
“Stevie Johnson is someone who will be very much involved,” Gehlken said. “Keenan Allen will still lead the team in receptions. Malcom Floyd had a full 16-game season for only the second time in his career in 2014. The chances that Malcom Floyd plays another full season at 34 is highly unlikely and it would make sense to keep him fresh as the only premier deep threat. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stevie Johnson and Keenan Allen on the field when there are only two receivers on the field.”
In 2014, Floyd was on the field for 94 percent of the Chargers pass plays. That number could come down with Johnson in the mix. Despite not being featured in the offense and playing with a poor fit at quarterback, Johnson beat out all 49ers wide receivers, including Anquan Boldin, in his overall receiving grade (+6.6) and his yards per route run (2.13) last season. In 2012, Johnson turned 137 routes in the slot into 39 targets and a 27/359/4 line with a 2.62 YPPR — good for third-best among all receivers in the slot.
Is Ladarius Green A Post-Hype Sleeper?
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him see some touches in the red zone, but there are a lot of mouths to feed in passing game,” Gehlken said. “During those four games Gates is gone, they want a balance to this offense. Get back to running the ball. I’m not sure what Green is going to do with production and I’d be careful to say that he will be a top-five producer when Gates is suspended.”
There are better late-round tight end fliers to bank on than Green.
When Gates Returns: More 12 Personnel?
The Chargers were a top-five team in the NFL in 11 personnel groupings featuring three wide receivers. When Gates returns from his suspension, will the Chargers use more 12 personnel groupings featuring two tight ends instead of a wide receiver?
“Even before Gates suspension, the Chargers staff admitted they want to get back into 12 personnel more this year to run the football,” Gehlken said. “11 personnel is still going to be a big part of what they do, but they want to have a multitude of personnel groupings this year.”
Gates struggled as a blocker (-12.8) in 2014, and although Green was better (-0.3), it wasn’t by much. If the Chargers are looking to run the football and use 12 personnel, it doesn’t seem like a guarantee that they would feature these two tight ends.
Any Deep Dynasty Gems?
“Dontrelle Inman is the No. 4 wide receiver, and he’s somebody who has really impressed the Chargers,” Gehlken said. “He stepped up big in Week 16 last season and has been working his tail off in practice.”
Inman is not a hot commodity in dynasty leagues, but he is in a great situation. After the Chargers’ top three wide receivers, the depth chart is wide open. If he can hold on to the No. 4 spot, he has a chance to ascend up the depth chart when Floyd retires in an offense that likes to feature three wide receivers.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he covers the NFC East beat for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.