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Dynasty

Fresh Off the Bye Week: Chargers and Chiefs

Johnny Kinsley considers three important dynasty players for the teams returning from a bye week.

Austin Ekeler

Welcome to the week nine and first edition of ‘Fresh Off the Bye Week,’ where we take a look at dynasty players from teams returning after their break. This week we only have two teams, the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. This time we will pull three players from each team and consider their dynasty statuses: two skill players and one defender.

And with that, let’s get into it!

Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert, QB

The Chargers were a heavy favorite to win the AFC West this season, with the main reason of course being Herbert. And why not? His amazing 2021 season appeared to be the beginning of something special, and the team used numerous resources to retool a struggling defense.

But like any Chargers season, there’s always something. The defense is giving up the fourth most yards per play (5.9) and the most rush yards per attempt (5.7), and the injuries have once again demanded payment from the franchise. This includes Herbert himself, who suffered a rib cartilage injury that will affect him for the rest of the season.

As a result, this is by far the worst season of Herbert’s career: His yards per attempt, adjusted net yards per attempt, and touchdown percentage are all down, and he’s clearly playing like a quarterback not close to 100%. As far as raw stats go, he has 2,009 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and four interceptions, plus 120.36 fantasy points, making him the QB14 on Fantasy Data’s metrics.

In addition to the rib injury, a couple of other setbacks factor into Herbert’s somewhat disappointing fantasy season. First, the team lacks a speed demon receiver who can create openings down the field. In other words, the exact kind of receiver who fits the quarterback’s skill set perfectly. Second, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has not allowed Herbert to air it out: According to Pro Football Reference, the quarterback ranks 32nd out of 35 passers in Average Depth of Target (6.3).

With all this said, while Herbert might continue to be middle of the pack in 2022, he should still be heavily invested in beyond that. He’ll be healthier in 2023, allowing him to be more comfortable ripping it in tight windows vertically with the magical precision he showcased in his first two seasons.

Austin Ekeler, RB

Yet again, Ekeler has stood out as one of the Chargers’ star skill players. Through seven games, he has 380 rush yards and five touchdowns, plus 53 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns.

In total, Ekeler has 121.7 fantasy points on Fantasy Data. He’s the RB5 on those metrics, 17th among all offensive players, and is even above Herbert (19th out of all offensive players).

Ekeler is 27 years old and works well in the modern NFL with a healthy blend of rushing and receiving prowess. The Chargers don’t bother using him like a bell-cow, so his skill set should age quite well as he approaches his 30s. That makes him a great fit for any dynasty team, so look to continue investing in him.

Drue Tranquill, LB

It’s tough to find stars on a struggling Chargers defense, but in the world of IDP, one face happens to be linebacker Tranquill. In his first season as a full-time starter, Tranquill is in a contract year, so his emergence has allowed him to join the free agent conversation for defensive needy teams.

As far as dynasty goes, Tranquill has been the Chargers’ most impactful defender: His 66.75 fantasy points rank 26th among all defenders using Fantasy Data’s metrics, and he’s racked up 38 solo tackles through seven games. Of course, just because you can make more tackles doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a better defender (consider the space on the field and if the tackle was made after the ball crossed the first down marker), but in dynasty, those are always important.

Tranquill, like Ekeler, is 27, so he’s in the middle of his prime at the position. The issue is his breakout season has come in a contract year, and those can always be pretty scary to invest in. A late pick is worth it, but proceed on the side of caution. That said, Tranquill is at least the most consistent Chargers tackler to date, so that should continue in the second half of the season.

Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes, QB

What’s the point of dedicating a section of this piece to Patrick freaking Mahomes, you may ask? He’s considered by many to be the best active quarterback, maybe the most talented passer of all time… what more can be said?

Well, there were doubts about whether or not Mahomes could compare statistically with the departure of Tyreek Hill to Miami. Not that the doubts were placed on Mahomes himself, but rather if the Chiefs could extend their division champion streak without their premium wide receiver. But through seven games, it’s been the same as ever for Kansas City, and the quarterback play has been phenomenal.

Mahomes has 2,159 passing yards, a league-leading 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions. This has given him a grand total of 169.66 fantasy points, the fifth most points among all quarterbacks and players. The four quarterbacks ahead of him are Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, and Jalen Hurts.

This season, Mahomes appears to be on the Aaron Rodgers model of finding a way with whatever receivers he’s given (Travis Kelce excluded). We’ve seen how little that’s worked for Rodgers this season, but outside of Josh Allen, no quarterback is more in sync with his offense than Mahomes.

Invest, invest, and invest some more. Mahomes is 27, close to being a Hall of Fame lock, and is the kind of player you should only get once and once only in a lifetime. He’s a stud on the tape and in the stats.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR

When Smith-Schuster initially signed with the Chiefs, I thought it was an excellent addition to the team, as he would be the WR2 to Hill. Then the trade to the Dolphins happened, and Smith-Schuster’s presence on the team was seen as one that would make the offense less efficient.

That hasn’t happened. Though his season started off a bit slow, he has caught fire in his last two games, eclipsing 100 yards and adding a touchdown in both games. In total, he has 34 catches for 494 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While this only makes him Fantasy Data’s WR29 (59.4 points), he heated up against the Bills and 49ers.

Mahomes has been phenomenal at distributing the ball fairly to all of his receivers, so Smith-Schuster should see plenty of opportunities for the rest of the season. He’s played very well with a one-year deal, and at this rate, he’ll be due for an extension not just with the Chiefs, but on dynasty rosters as well.

L’Jarius Sneed, CB

Lastly, let’s take a quick look at corner Sneed. He is the Chiefs’ best fantasy defender, getting a push from 3.5 sacks and five quarterback hits. His 77.6 fantasy points are sixth among all defenders and first among all corners.

Initially I was hesitant to say if Sneed will continue putting up CB1 seasons in IDP leagues, as corners typically don’t produce this many sacks in such few games. However, Sneed was also Fantasy Data’s No 1 fantasy corner in 2021 and third in 2020, so he’s become a household name in IDP leagues.

Combine that with Sneed being just 25, and he should remain an easy investment in IDP.

With this in mind, what did you think of the assessments? Did I miss anyone? Give us your thoughts in the comments!

Fresh Off the Bye Week: Chargers and Chiefs
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Gregory Massa
26 days ago

I like the idea here! I hope it continues and grows. I’ll never say no to Mahomes, but would have loved a little on Isiah Pacheco’s ROS outlook.

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