Justin Herbert Austin Ekeler
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2023 Los Angeles Chargers Outlook

2023 Los Angeles Chargers Outlook The 2023 NFL season is right around the corner and that means fantasy football drafts are underway. Before you assemble your championship dynasty, redraft, or high-stakes squad, FullTime Fantasy members will have an in-depth, player-by-player […]

2023 Los Angeles Chargers Outlook

The 2023 NFL season is right around the corner and that means fantasy football drafts are underway. Before you assemble your championship dynasty, redraft, or high-stakes squad, FullTime Fantasy members will have an in-depth, player-by-player preview of all 32 teams from football legend Shawn Childs.

Also, check out Jody Smith’s NFL offensive line rankings and exclusive 2023 Strength of Schedule analysis.

Up next in our extensive NFL and fantasy football preview series is Shawn’s deep dive into the 2023 Los Angeles Chargers Outlook.

— Quarterback —

Justin Herbert

In 2021, Herbert finished with an impressive 5,316 combined yards with 41 touchdowns. His floor was high in scoring in his first two years in the run game (55/234/5 and 63/302/3). Herbert averaged 39.5 pass attempts while gaining over 300 yards in nine matchups (337/1, 338/1, 398/4, 356/2, 382/3, 303/2, 317/3, 336/1, and 383/3). He ranked second in fantasy scoring (447.00) in four-point passing touchdown leagues with four impact games (33.65, 46.80, 35.20, 39.10, and 32.25 fantasy points).

Last season, Herbert threw the ball well over his first two starts (279/3 and 334/3), but a hit late in Week 2 led to a rib injury that appeared to effort his play over the next few weeks. His running value (54/147) sharply declined from his two previous seasons, especially in scoring (no rushing touchdowns). On the positive side, Herbert set a career-high in completions (477), pass attempts (699), and completion rate (68.2). He threw two touchdowns or fewer in 15 of his final 16 starts, with only one game (Week 12 – 312/3). Herbert passed for more than 300 yards five times on the year.

Fantasy Outlook: Despite a down season, Herbert played through an injury, and his top two wideouts missed about 14 games (including two quick exits). He finished the season ranked eighth in fantasy points (343.25) in four-point passing touchdown leagues. The Chargers upgraded his receiving depth in this year’s draft, and his passing window should be much longer in 2023. Herbert now has six live receiving options to work with, inviting a return to the greatness he showed in 2022. Trending toward 5,500 combined yards with a push over 40 touchdowns. But Los Angeles must stay healthy on the offensive side of the ball.

Max Duggan

Duggan had a quiet start to his college career over 32 games at TCU (7,353 combined yards with 60 touchdowns and 20 interceptions). He gained only 7.3 yards per pass attempt, with weakness in his completion rate (58.9). His floor was helped by his ability to move the ball on the ground (351/1,433/19). 

Last year, Duggan helped his team play for a National Championship by starting the season with 12 consecutive wins. His inspired play vs. Michigan (282 combined yards and four scores) led to TCU facing Georgia on January 9th, where he was overmatched by the Bulldogs’ defense. On the year, Duggan gained 4,101 yards with 41 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Defenses did catch up to him late in the year in pass coverage (212 yards per game with eight passing touchdowns and six interceptions over seven starts). 

Fantasy Outlook: Duggan must improve his accuracy and arm strength to earn a starting job in the NFL. He’ll compete for the backup quarterback job for the Chargers this season.

Other Options: Easton Stick

— Running Backs —

The Chargers’ running backs led the league in catches (140) and targets (179), but they finished with a minimal game in receiving yards (911). A downgrade in LA’s offensive line was highlighted by their backs yards per catch (6.5). They ended the year with a drop off in rushing yards (1,373) for the second consecutive season and weakness in yards per rush (3.9) despite only nine fewer rushing attempts (349). The Chargers’ running backs combined for 2,284 yards with 22 touchdowns and 140 catches (29.44 FPPG).

Austin Ekeler

In 2021, Ekeler gained 1,558 combined yards with 20 touchdowns and 70 catches. The Chargers had him on the field for only 61.1% of their plays. He produced better stats at home (955 combined yards with 14 scores and 41 catches – 24.50 FPPG in PPR leagues). Ekeler posted two impact games (33.90 and 41.50 fantasy points) while having a floor of 20.00 fantasy points in nine matchups. He finished second in fantasy scoring (346.80) with one missed game with Covid-19.

Los Angeles gave him almost the same opportunity in the run game (204/915/13), with nearly the identical role in snaps (61.8%). Ekeler set a new top in catches (107) and targets (127), but he gained only 6.7 yards per catch, well below his 2021 (9.2) and his career average (9.7). 

Over the past two seasons. Ekeler has 25 rushing and 13 receiving touchdowns. He gained more than 100 rushing yards in two matchups (16/173/1 and 10/122/2) and five other outcomes with 100 combined yards or more. 

Fantasy Outlook: Over the past four seasons, Ekeler has been an exceptional player for the Chargers. He works hard and grinds out yards when there is minimal space. Unfortunately, his window for a payday is closing, and Ekeler has one year left on his contract. Los Angeles bumped up some incentives in 2023, but he’ll never get paid what he is worth or should have earned over the past two seasons (3,195 combined yards with 38 touchdowns and 177 catches). Ekeler is the second running back drafted this year after ranking 2nd and 1st in fantasy points in 2021 and 2022. His pass-catching sets a high floor while his growth in scoring leads to more impactful days (Ekeler scored over 30.00 fantasy points four times last season – 34.90, 35.90, 36.70, and 32.10), three of which came over the first seven games.

Joshua Kelley

Kelley had two productive seasons at UCLA (225/1243/12 and 229/1060/12), with his best value coming in the passing game (27/193) in 2018. His path in college started at the University of California at Davis. 

His career at UCLA began as a walk-on player with minimal value in his first two games (6/20 and 5/7). Kelley rushed for over 100 yards over his next four contests while ending the year with a touchdown in each of his final eight games, highlighted by a monster showing vs. rival USC (40/289/2). In 2019, he had four games with over 100 yards rushing (27/127/1, 18/176/1, 34/164/4, and 23/126/2), but Kelley also had multiple games (6) with fewer than 80 yards on the ground.

Kelley looks good inside the five-yard line and in short-yardage situations where he is willing to drop and drive to create yards in tight quarters. He runs with power with the ability to break tackles against trash when seeing minimal daylight. Kelley projects as a north/south runner, but I see more dimensions to his game. He offers some head and shoulder fakes when breaking into space while not losing all of his momentum. His hands grade well, and I expect him to make plays in the passing game.

In his rookie season, Kelley gained 502 combined yards with two touchdowns and 23 catches. His best opportunity came over the first two weeks (173 combined yards with one score and two catches). On the year, he gained only 3.2 yards per rush and 6.4 yards per catch.

Despite an empty 2021 (33/102/0 with five catches for 38 yards over 10 games), Kelley had the second-most running back snaps (286) for Los Angeles last season. He held his own in the run game (69/297/2) while picking up 14 catches for 101 yards. Kelley missed five weeks midseason with a knee injury.

Fantasy Outlook: Kelley remains the favorite to win




To finish reading Shawn’s in-depth 2023 team outlook, with in-depth offseason reports, projections, and fantasy outlooks for all players


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