The fantasy community yearns for consistency and predictability. We like knowing our players have defined roles on their respective teams. The running backs are locked in for three-down roles, the wide receivers accrue a large weekly target share, and the tight ends are more than just run blockers.
Unpredictability is another issue altogether.
This is where fantasy owners are with Keenan Allen. For the first time in his career, Allen owners are heading into an offseason with a certain level of uncertainty. Long-time franchise quarterback Philip Rivers is gone, and a big question mark hangs over the franchise. While it looks like, as of this writing, the team will go with veteran journeyman Tyrod Taylor in the interim, their actions during the rest of free agency and the subsequent NFL Draft will be quite telling.
The question then remains: with the uncertainty surrounding him, what can fantasy owners expect from Allen in dynasty leagues moving forward?
Tale of Two Careers
If you’ve been playing fantasy football for any length of time, you probably have a personal opinion on injuries and how to approach them in dynasty. Early in his career, Allen had his fair share of injuries that derailed much of his early fantasy success. The third-round draft pick was labeled as “injury-prone” and only played in 38 of 64 games through four years. Will Fuller is another excellent example of a polarizing player for dynasty owners.
A closer look at those injuries shed some light on the uniqueness of some of them. Allen did suffer an ACL tear, which, while still severe, is something more players are coming back from. He also suffered a lacerated kidney, which is an outlier in its own right.
In recent years, he’s had quite the turnaround. Now one of the premier wideouts, Allen has dominated PPR leagues with lethal route running and fantastic ball possession skills.
Safe Floor, Elite Upside
As we mention predictability, Allen has provided one of the most reliable floors in fantasy football over the last three seasons. He’s been a lock for almost 150 targets, 100 receptions, 1,100 yards, and six touchdowns year in and year out. His target volume provides security for his owners.
Averaging over nine targets/game for three straight seasons is remarkable. As you can see in Allen’s three-year stats above, he also has the athletic ability to post elite games and single-handedly win your weekly matchup. Those occasional massive games, coupled with a high floor, makes Allen a safe fantasy asset.
Coming off of his seventh year in the league, his historical comps using the RotoViz Screener are as elite as they can get.
Looking ahead, even with a new quarterback for the first time in his career, there are good reasons to think his production will not drop off substantially enough to cause concern for owners. Here’s how his comps performed in their eighth year.
During his time playing with Rivers, Allen was never a field-stretching threat at the wide receiver position. He was always the middle of the field, possession receiver who thrived off the high volume.
This aspect of his game gives me confidence in his ability to be successful with Taylor, or a rookie, at quarterback. Speaking of Taylor, he’s a safe, game-managing quarterback who can be mobile in the pocket. While he won’t generate a ton of extra wins, he avoids the crucial errors. His play style should mesh well with Allen.
Allen does not depend on high touchdown numbers to boost his positional finish. Over the last three seasons, in which he’s finished as a WR1, he’s averaged seventh at the position in targets, fourth in receptions, and 21st in touchdowns.
After the Rivers news broke, Allen’s ADP has taken a tumble. He’s being drafted as the WR17 in early best ball leagues, and his dynasty ADP is about the same. I believe he’s a value at that price. His elite route running coupled with a smart, safe interim quarterback in Taylor will provide him the same high volume role that he’s used to. While a rookie quarterback is likely coming this spring, as the Chargers have the sixth pick, I’m still confident in Allen’s ability to provide low-end WR1, high-end WR2 numbers moving forward in dynasty leagues.