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Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview: San Diego Chargers

Free agency has a major impact on fantasy football. We’re a long way from the 2017 league year, but for dynasty team owners — especially those who’ve missed the playoffs — it’s never too early to start thinking about how player values could change.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll run through each team’s free agency situation, using information from Over the Cap. I’ll use the Screener App as well as free agency status to identify potential team needs. I won’t speculate (too much) on destinations for certain players yet, but will offer some preliminary thoughts about possible value situations. As the offseason progresses, we’ll use the information in this series of articles to reach more specific conclusions about player movement and value changes.

San Diego Chargers

Free Agents

PLAYER POS TEAM TYPE SAL GUAR TEAM CAP
Kellen Clemens QB Chargers UFA $1,065,000 $80,000 $22,266,996
Danny Woodhead RB Chargers UFA $2,750,000 $3,000,000 $22,266,996
Ronnie Hillman RB Chargers UFA $760,000 $0 $22,266,996
Dexter McCluster RB Chargers UFA $760,000 $0 $22,266,996
Branden Oliver RB Chargers RFA $510,000 $0 $22,266,996
Jeff Cumberland TE Chargers UFA $840,000 $80,000 $22,266,996
Asante Cleveland TE Chargers RFA $600,000 $0 $22,266,996
Sean McGrath TE Chargers RFA $517,500 $0 $22,266,996
Dontrelle Inman WR Chargers RFA $600,000 $0 $22,266,996
Isaiah Burse WR Chargers ERFA $525,000 $0 $22,266,996
Geremy Davis WR Chargers ERFA $525,000 $0 $22,266,996
Jeremy Butler WR Chargers ERFA $525,000 $0 $22,266,996
Javontee Herndon WR Chargers ERFA $480,000 $0 $22,266,996

Cut Candidates

TEAM PLAYER POS DEAD $ CAP SAVINGS
CHARGERS S.JOHNSON WR 1 3.5

Needs – RB, WR

Melvin Gordon answered questions about his ability this year, but there’s nothing behind him. Tyrell Williams has performed well in relief of Keenan Allen (and Steve Johnson), but there’s a similar lack of depth at the position. San Diego appears to have hit the jackpot with tight end Hunter Henry, alleviating any concerns about transitioning away from Antonio Gates. 

Discussion

Danny Woodhead lost 2016 to injury, and is now a free agent. He’ll likely be undervalued wherever he ends up in 2017. If your league has deep benches, he’s worth holding, or acquiring cheaply. He’s averaged over 10 PPR points per game in four of the past five seasons, the long exception being an injury-shortened 2014 campaign. He may not be a league-winner, but he’s a good candidate for usable PPR production.

Melvin Gordon should remain locked in as a fantasy RB1, but it’s likely he’ll see a lighter workload next year. He’s seen 82 percent of team rushing attempts, second only to Ezekiel Elliott. There’s also no viable change-of-pace back right now, which seems like something the Chargers will need to address. But since it almost certainly won’t be a high-profile player, I’m confident Gordon will retain high-end RB1 usage.

Antonio Gates contract ($5 million in dead money if cut) makes it likely he’ll still be around next year, but beyond that seems very doubtful, and even his 2017 usage seems doubtful given the presence of Henry. Gates does have a nice 2016 fantasy playoff schedule, which likely represents the end of his fantasy relevance.

The wide receiver position has some moving parts. I think Keenan Allen will return to form, but there’s a need beyond that. Aside from a couple of injury-affected games, Travis Benjamin has played like a back-end WR3/high-end WR4, which roughly matches his fantasy ADP. But he hasn’t carried the offense. Also, Steve Johnson seems likely to be cut, given his age and injury history. The player of interest here is the emerging Tyrell Williams.

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A solid WR2 thus far in 2016, Williams’ production matches that of many higher profile players. With one year left on his contract, the Chargers, who rank 26th in cap space, should look to extend it beyond next year. That would likely be less expensive than a free agent, and give them a solid Allen-Williams-Benjamin WR corps. Long story short, I think Williams is the WR2 going forward in San Diego, with upside if Allen proves injury prone.

Williams is a player I definitely like, but Allen is still the player to own in this offense.

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Yes, he’s missed most of two seasons with injury. I’m still buying if someone is giving up on him or giving him away for less than a WR1 price.

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