The Chargers added UCLA RB Joshua Kelley in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Kelley was a workhorse for the Bruins over the past 2 seasons, tallying rushing lines of 225-1,243-12 and 229-1,060-12. He averaged a mediocre 5.1 yards per carry, though, and doesn’t look like anything special on tape. Kelley ranked 17th among 21 of this year’s top RBs prospects in Pro Football Focus’ 2019 rushing grades and dead last in Elusive Rating. The 5’11, 212-pounder did test reasonably well at the Combine, posting a 4.49-second 40 time and a 6.95-second 3-cone. He finished with a 47th percentile SPARQ score. We heard one scout compare Kelley to the Packers’ Jamaal Williams. He’ll compete with Justin Jackson for ‘big-back’ duties behind Austin Ekeler in Los Angeles.
The Chargers traded up from Round 2 to select Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray with the 23rd pick of the NFL Draft. Murray offered big production the past 2 years: 155 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2018; and then 102 tackles, 17 TFLs and 4 sacks last season. L.A.'s move to get him points to an immediate 3-down role in a defense that has been desperate for full-time LBs. Expect immediate IDP impact from Murray.
The Chargers selected Oregon QB Justin Herbert with the 6th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. Herbert made 42 starts across the past 4 years, leaving the Ducks with a career 64% completion rate, 8.2 yards per attempt and 95 TDs vs. 23 INTs. After a disappointing 2018 campaign, he bounced back to chuck for 3,471 yards with 32 TDs vs. 6 INTs on a 67% completion rate and 8.1 yards per attempt this past year. Herbert’s accuracy is spotty, but he’s a 6’6, 235-pounder with a big arm. And his rushing upside makes him an intriguing fantasy prospect. Although he totaled just 216 yards and 6 scores on the ground over the past 2 seasons, Herbert ran a 4.68-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and earned a 92nd percentile SPARQ (athleticism) score. He could produce Josh Allen-like rushing numbers as a pro. Herbert joins Tyrod Taylor in the Chargers’ QB room. HC Anthony Lynn is a big Tyrod fan, but we’d expect Herbert to take over at some point this season.
The Chargers are "still very high" on RB Justin Jackson, according to The Athletic's Daniel Popper. The 2018 7th-rounder has struggled staying healthy even in a limited role over the past 2 seasons but has averaged a strong 5.1 yards per carry. Popper doesn't expect the Chargers to add an early-round back later this month to replace Melvin Gordon. If that's the case, Jackson could be in for a sneaky-big role behind undersized Austin Ekeler, who hasn't topped 132 carries in an NFL season.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that the Chargers "are not looking to sign a veteran QB, as they move forward with Tyrod Taylor." We'll see if that holds true, given that free agency just opened. We'll also see whether the team goes QB in Round 1 of the draft. Taylor, though, spent 3 years starting for the Bills and opened 2018 as Cleveland's starter before giving way to Baker Mayfield. In his last full starting season -- 2017 -- Taylor graded out 10th among passers, according to Pro Football Focus. He would bring a higher fantasy ceiling than 2019 Philip Rivers provided, primarily because of Taylor's rushing.
The Chargers have placed the franchise tag on TE Hunter Henry, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. That keeps Henry with the team for at least 2020. He's struggled with injuries, missing all of the 2018 regular season with a torn right ACL and 4 games with a tibia plateau fracture to his left knee this past year. But Henry finished 16th among TEs in PPR points per game as a rookie in 2016, 7th in 2017 and 9th in 2019. He's still just 25 -- and the Chargers obviously remain high on him. The concern for his 2020 fantasy prospects is who will be under center for the Chargers.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Chargers and RB Austin Ekeler have agreed to a new 4-year deal worth $24.5 million. The contract reportedly includes $15 million guaranteed. Ekeler had been on track for restricted free agency. Instead, he looks locked in as the team's top back -- even if the Chargers add to the backfield this offseason, as we expect them to do. The terms seem low enough to make finishing this contract seem realistic. At the least, this top-7 RB across fantasy formats in 2019 looks poised for another run at RB1-level production.
Chargers S Derwin James is active for today's game against the Broncos, and the team says he'll start in place of Roderic Teamer. HC Anthony Lynn also said they'd monitor James' playing time, so it's tough to know just how much he'll be on the field. But James is ready if you waited for him in your IDP lineup. The Chargers also announced that rookie LB Drue Tranquill will start in place of Denzel Perryman. Make the switch if you were planning to start Perryman in your fantasy football lineup.
Bengals LB Nick Vigil (ankle) is active for today's game against the Jets. He managed just 1 limited practice this week, so there's obviously risk of re-injury. But Vigil also brings a high tackle floor and ceiling as long as he stays on the field. He belongs in most IDP lineups where he would have otherwise been in line to start.
The Chargers have activated safeties Derwin James and Adrian Phillips from IR, and ESPN's Eric D. Williams reports that both are expected to play today against the Broncos. The report also says HC Anthony Lynn will closely monitor the playing time for both players "if they are active." Lynn said: "It's just hard for guys to be out 10, 12 weeks, come back and pick up where they left off. We have to be careful putting guys back out too soon or back out there before they're ready." Both players carry significant IDP upside as full-timers, but it'll obviously be risky to use either guy in his 1st game off IR. Try to hold off for Week 13. Phillips' role could also affect the playing time for others at LB.
Bengals LB Nick Vigil (ankle) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Jets. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday before returning to a limited Friday workout. We'll check his status Sunday morning.
The Chargers have designated S Derwin James to return from IR, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that James is expected to play this week against the Broncos. James opened the season on IR after suffering a foot fracture in August. He was enough of an IDP stud last year for many of us to gamble on putting him back into lineups. We'll factor in some risk of limited playing time when we include James in our Week 13 DB rankings, though.
Chargers S Roderic Teamer (groin) is active for tonight's game against the Chiefs. He should return to the starting lineup and be in play for IDP use. Rookie LB Drue Tranquill is inactive. He turned up questionable after a Saturday calf injury in practice. That's just as well, because LB Denzel Perryman is no longer on the injury report. That should mean Perryman returning to his starting job against Kansas City. Thomas Davis remains the only solid fantasy bet at LB among Chargers.
Chargers S Roderic Teamer is questionable for Monday night's game against the Chiefs. He put in full practices Friday and Saturday after missing the past 2 games with a groin injury, pointing to a likely return for the Mexico City game. The Chargers also designated S Adrian Phillips to return from IR this week, but we've seen no indication he has a chance at playing against Kansas City. Elsewhere on the L.A. defense, LB Denzel Perryman was off the final injury report, pointing to a return to the lineup for him. He was active last week but didn't play because of a knee injury. Rookie Drue Tranquill saw full playing time in Perryman's absence but should see that cut drastically against the Chiefs. Thomas Davis looks like the only relatively safe LB bet among Chargers.
The Vikings have ruled DT Linval Joseph out for Sunday night's game against the Cowboys with a knee injury. A Week 12 bye could factor into whether Minnesota brings Joseph back for next week's home date with Denver.
Chargers S Roderic Teamer is inactive for tonight's game against the Raiders. He arrived doubtful after missing Week 9 with his groin injury.
Chargers LB Denzel Perryman is active for tonight's game against the Raiders. He was questionable after missing practice this week with a knee issue. Daniel Popper of The Athletic tweeted that Perryman "wasn't moving much" in pregame warm-ups. That's not necessarily bad, but Perryman certainly carries risk. Try to avoid him in IDP lineups if you can.
The Chargers might be getting star S Derwin James back after their Week 11 bye. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday morning that James "has been running pain free and is now poised to return" for Week 12. James had surgery in the summer to insert a screw into his fractured foot. We'll see about James' participation level heading into Week 12, but he's worth stashing now if your roster is deep enough to spare the bench spot.
Chargers S Roderic Teamer (groin) is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Packers. Jaylen Watkins looks likely to step into Teamer's spot.
Chargers DE Melvin Ingram (hamstring) is active for today’s game against the Bears. He missed the past 3 contests but is worth a DL2-level play for many IDP owners this week. Ingram put in a full practice Friday.
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