Los Angeles Chargers
HC: Anthony Lynn
DC: Gus Bradley
Team Needs: DT, LB, S
Upcoming UFAs: Tenny Palepoi, Jeremiah Attaochu, Korey Toomer, Tre Boston
In their first year under Gus Bradley, the Chargers defense excelled using the Bend-But-Don’t-Break philosophy. LA ranked 15th in yards allowed but 3rd in points allowed. Their defensive personnel made the Chargers middle of the road against the pass, but teams could gash them up the middle with the run. LA ranked 31st in rush yards allowed.
None of LA’s DTs were fantasy relevant this season. Brandon Mebane led the way regarding snaps with 535. The former Seahawk ended with 30 total tackles. Darius Philon had the best season. The former 6th Round pick played 510 snaps and put together 31 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Philon will be 24 years old starting his 4th season and is worth a roster spot in really deep leagues. Corey Liuget was injured and limited to 12 games. He ended up playing 413 snaps and 21 total tackles and 1.5 sacks. Look for a better season next year, but who knows if it’ll be enough to be fantasy relevant?
LA has arguably the best DE combo in the league. Take it from Khalil Mack; elite pass-rushers need a wingman to unlock their maximum stats. The Joey Bosa contract dispute last year seems even more ridiculous after having seen a season and a half of Bosa play. Bosa set a record for the most sacks through the first 20 games. He was also the second youngest player to reach 20.0 sacks, behind Terrell Suggs. Bosa played 850 snaps in 16 games. He ended with 70 combined tackles and 12.5 sacks and was a Top 5 fantasy DE. Bosa will be 23 when next season starts. He is, quite possibly, the top IDP dynasty asset at the moment.
Across from Bosa, Melvin Ingram successfully made the transition from 3-4 OLB to 4-3 DE. Ingram played 40 snaps more than Bosa across all 16 games but couldn’t match Bosa’s stats. The soon to be 29-year-old put up 56 total tackles and 10.5 sacks, matching his career season sack high. His numbers still made him a Top 5 fantasy DE.
Chris McCain ended the season with 5.0 sacks, starting strong with 1.0 sack in each of the first three games. McCain was a UDFA out of Cal back in 2014. The Chargers are his 5th team. McCain played 241 snaps on the season backing up Bosa and Ingram. I honestly don’t know if this is a fluke or a sign of development from a player who had notched 2.0 sacks over 20 games through his first three seasons. McCain supplemented the sacks with 20 total tackles. At this point, McCain might be the handcuff for either Bosa or Ingram, should either get injured next season, although you can’t expect anywhere near the numbers as you get from those two.
Jeremiah Attaochu deserves a quick mention. Attaochu was only active for 4 games between injuries and being a healthy scratch. Attaochu was a 2nd Round pick back in 2014. As a free-agent-to-be, there’s an outside shot Attaochu could be this year’s Alex Okafor. Attaochu had 6.0 sacks his sophomore season, playing as a 3-4 OLB. He’s only 250 lbs, so he’s a little light to play 4-3 DE. Just keep an eye on him.
If you can predict what’s going to happen with the Chargers’ LBs, I am impressed. Fifth Round sophomore Jatavis Brown started off the season hot, with double-digit tackles in his first 3 games. He only had more than 5 total tackles in one of his remaining 13 games though. Brown played through a high ankle sprain which obviously limited him. Brown topped 90% of snaps in each of the first 4 games. He topped 50% of snaps 3 times over the remaining 12 games. The question becomes, do you think the sprain limited him for the rest of the season. If so, he’s a fantastic buy-low. If you think Brown’s limitations against the run forced Bradley to start moving away from him, that’s a much different story.
Brown still played more snaps than any of LA’s other LBs. Brown was on the field for 506 snaps. To give you a few numbers for comparison, 11 LBs topped 1,000 snaps on the year. Eight of those 11 LBs were in the Top 9 in fantasy points.
Korey Toomer had a bit of a breakout season last year, putting up big numbers when Denzel Perryman was out. Toomer was in line to have a big season with Perryman missing the first 8 games. Unfortunately, Toomer lost out to Hayes Pullard III in the race to replace Perryman however. HP was a 7th Round pick back in 2015. He was most famous for publishing an open letter to all 32 teams two days before the draft. The letter is definitely worth a read. HP never made it past Cleveland’s practice squad before he was signed by the Jaguars. Bradley must be a fan because the Chargers claimed him off waivers before the season. HP ended with 74 tackles over 476 snaps. Toomer produced in the two games he had the opportunity. Odds are, he signs with a team for added depth.
Third in snaps among LA LBs, was actually Kyle Emanuel. Emanuel played 303 snaps on the season but never even hit 50% of the snaps in any game. The former 5th Round pick ended with 34 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Perryman missed the first 8 games. He missed a game towards the end of the season as well. When he was fully healthy in Weeks 12 and 13, he played 100% of the snaps. They weren’t his two highest tackle games of the season. Perryman has shown double-digit tackle potential over his first two seasons and Week 10 this year. That said, Perryman has yet to play 16 games.
There’s a general understanding that Jason Verrett is a shutdown CB. 2018 will be Verrett’s 5th year in the league. Verrett played in 6 games his rookie season, 14 games in 2015, 4 games in 2016 and amassed 1 game played in 2017. He’s played 25 games out of a possible 64. At this point, the Chargers should just plan for Verrett’s IR trip next season.
Casey Hayward has proven to be a great free agent by the Chargers back in 2016. He’s so good; it usually limits his IDP value. Hayward had 22 PDs this season. Sophomore UDFA Trevor Williams replaced Verrett. He was solid enough to not have much IDP value. He ended with 56 total tackles and 2 interceptions. Williams will be an RFA this offseason and has earned some money.
Desmond King needs to be mentioned. King was a steal in the 5th Round. He won the Jim Thorpe and Jack Tatum Awards as a Junior. He was a playmaker for the Hawkeyes. He was considered a Top 10 pick if he came out as a Junior but dropped to the 5th Round after coming out as a Senior due to his 40 time. There was talk he would eventually play Safety. 76 total tackles, 4.0 sacks and a pick-six later and it’s pretty obvious he’s a playmaker. King only played 700 snaps compared to Hayward and Williams who both topped 1,000. The question becomes, did King do enough to force himself into the lineup. When Verrett was healthy at the start of the season, King was obviously 4th on the depth chart. Verrett played most of Week 1, and Williams was playing the slot in the nickel. King only played 4 snaps. After Verrett went down, Williams and Hayward played outside, and King played the nickel. If Verrett is healthy at the start of 2018, how does King see the field with Williams having played so well? Maybe, they let Tre Boston walk and give King a shot at FS. Or, King doesn’t see the field until Verrett gets injured again.
Gus Bradley’s defense always creates ample opportunity for the SS. Just ask Johnathan Cyprien and his four straight 100+ tackles seasons with Jacksonville. With Bradley switching coasts, Jahleel Addae became his man. Despite playing 16 games and 1,000+ snaps, Addae couldn’t match Cyprien’s numbers but still had a solid season with 96 total tackles. He was a Top 10 Safety.
Tre Boston signed a 1-year deal and beat out Dwight Lowery in training camp in the Charger’s ongoing effort to replace Eric Weddle. Boston ended up the starting FS. Lowery ended up released. Boston played all 16 games and was on the field for 1,000+ defensive snaps, ending with 79 total tackles and 5 interceptions. Boston is only 25 years old, so it’ll be a question whether LA resigns him.
Adrian Phillips started the season slowly. He played 36 combined snaps over the first four games. When LA’s LB corps started falling apart, Bradley started using Phillips as a sub-package LB, which spiked his production. Phillips hit 8 or more total tackles in 4 games. It was hard to predict, however, as 2-tackle were interspersed. Even after Perryman returned from injury, Bradley kept the Chargers in big nickel with 3 safeties on the field for 80-90% of snaps until Phillips got banged up towards the end of the season.
Rayshawn Jenkins was drafted in the 4th Round out of Miami. Jenkins didn’t play many defensive snaps this season, his peak was 29% in one game, but he could potentially be a replacement for Boston if the coaches have seen enough from him and think they can coach him up over the offseason.
Jatavis Brown – If you believe the high ankle sprain hampered him all year, go get him.
Adrian Phillips – You have to perk up anytime you hear a Safety getting snaps at LB.
Jatavis Brown – If you think his limitations against the run kept him off the field after he recovered from his high ankle sprain, trade him to someone who thinks it was the sprain.
Desmond King – This is a cheat. You should trade away all CBs where you can get value.
Both DEs – Again, Joey Bosa is arguably a Top 5 IDP dynasty asset. Melvin Ingram will be a top 10 DE for a few more years.
Jahleel Addae – Addae will be a very productive Safety under Bradley.
Deep Dynasty Stashes
Darius Philon – Improved quite a bit over the course of the season. Expect LA to draft someone, but Philon could become their #2 DT and see more snaps.
Rayshawn Jenkins – Jenkins could easily be a starter at FS next season.
The City of Angels should look to improve their run defense. Having Perryman play for an entire season (he’s never played 16 games) would help. This should also be a strong draft at DT, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chargers draft one highly. Imagine Bosa and Ingram with Maurice Hurst, Vita Vea, Taven Bryan or Derrick Nnadi between them. It would be a scary prospect for opposing offenses. Otherwise, this team won’t see a lot of turnover and, for the most part, expectations should match production this year.