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Dynasty Fantasy Football Futures: Los Angeles Chargers

What does 2023 and beyond hold for Justin Herbert and the rest of the Los Angeles Chargers?

Austin Ekeler and Justin Herbert

NFL offenses are often somewhat consistent from year to year. For example, as long as the Kansas City Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, they will likely be a high-powered offense with a dynamic passing game. In contrast, the Baltimore Ravens with Lamar Jackson will focus on running the ball, as he gives them a massive advantage on the ground.

Of course, it’s also easy to see that some teams are weaker on offense. The Houston Texans have been a laughingstock for the past two seasons without Deshaun Watson, and they likely won’t dig themselves out of the hole entirely until 2024. Additionally, it’s pretty clear that teams like the Commanders, Jets, Falcons, and Panthers lack quarterbacks and won’t turn it around until they find a franchise quarterback.

However, some teams feel like they’re in flux or, most excitingly, on the rise. In this series, I’ll look at offenses poised to soar in 2023, whether based on new personnel, new coaching, or improving talent. With that said, let’s jump into the Chargers!


The current Chargers’ offense story began in 2020 when they selected quarterback Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick. At that point, they had Anthony Lynn as their long-term head coach and Tyrod Taylor as a bridge quarterback after longtime starter Philip Rivers left in free agency. Memorably, Taylor suffered a punctured lung just before week two, allowing Herbert to become the starter.

The Chargers’ offense turned around almost immediately, and Herbert became a fantasy star. He averaged a stellar 22.72 fantasy PPG, one of the best marks of any rookie quarterback in NFL history. Notably, he averaged more fantasy PPG than Tom Brady and slightly behind Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson. Additionally, his 31 passing touchdowns in 15 starts and 289.1 yards/game represented excellent numbers for any quarterback, let alone a rookie.

However, despite Herbert’s success, they finished 2020 with a 7-9 record and decided to fire Lynn, replacing him with Brandon Staley. The Chargers went 9-8 in 2021, although they famously missed the playoffs due to Staley’s questionable coaching decisions in week 18. But Herbert essentially duplicated his 2020 numbers for fantasy football, averaging 22.69 fantasy PPG.

The most critical factor for the Chargers in 2021 was health, though.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

As you can see, none of their top six receiving weapons missed more than one game, giving Herbert a complete set of healthy weapons throughout the season. The Chargers averaged 27.9 PPG, fifth in the NFL, making them one of the league’s most high-powered offenses.

Going into 2022, the Chargers retained all their significant receiving weapons, with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Josh Palmer staying in the fold. Additionally, they signed Gerald Everett in free agency to provide an upgrade over the aging Jared Cook, and they drafted Isaiah Spiller to provide better depth at running back. Considering that Staley was heading into his second year as head coach and Herbert into his third year as quarterback, the Chargers were a popular pick to make a gigantic leap in 2022.

2022 Results

Unfortunately, the Chargers had an extremely bizarre 2022 season where their fantasy production plummeted despite their first playoff appearance since 2018. They improved to 10-7, but Herbert struggled with injuries, reducing his passing effectiveness. He had a left shoulder injury that required surgery and a nagging ribs injury that seemed to zap his throws throughout the year.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

As you can see, Herbert maintained and even improved his accuracy from 2020 and 2021, but his efficiency numbers tanked. However, he didn’t even suffer a massive drop-off in yards/game, as he attempted even more passes in 2022 than in previous seasons. But he only threw 25 passing touchdowns and scored zero rushing touchdowns, leading to a QB10 overall finish and 14th in fantasy PPG.

Additionally, the Chargers’ other weapons had injuries in 2022.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

Ekeler remained healthy for the entire season, and Palmer and Everett only missed one game each. But Williams and Allen could not stay healthy, missing four and seven games, respectively. On top of those missed games, each had multiple games where they were ineffective or played limited snaps due to injuries, depriving Herbert of his primary two wide receivers.

Lastly, the Chargers failed to find a reliable early-down complement to Ekeler. Spiller did nothing as a rookie, and neither Sony Michel nor Joshua Kelley was effective either. The Chargers have to look at their running game and find a way to improve their depth for 2023.

2023 Outlook

Going into 2023, the Chargers’ offense has some stability but also may undergo some changes. They kept Staley as their head coach, although he’s a defensive-minded coach, so he may not directly impact the offense as much as some other head coaches. Luckily, they fired incompetent offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, replacing him with Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. While Moore received mixed reviews during his time in Dallas, I believe he’s a massive upgrade over Lombardi.

As for personnel, the Chargers luckily have a franchise quarterback in Herbert, who will likely receive a massive contract extension this off-season. In addition, Ekeler remains under contract at an enormous bargain, as he only counts $7.75 million against the 2023 cap. The Chargers will also have Palmer on his rookie contract and Williams under his recent contract extension.

However, there will be some changes to this offense. Everett will almost certainly be a cap casualty, as the Chargers phased him out of the offense down the stretch. They can also cut Allen and save nearly $15 million in cap space, although they could agree on a restructured deal. Whether the Chargers retain Allen or not, they could easily select a receiver in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, with Jordan Addison and Jaxon Smith-Njigba as the two most likely options.

Most notably, though, there’s no way Herbert will throw for over 4,700 yards and only 25 passing touchdowns again. His 3.6% touchdown rate in 2022 was extraordinarily low, especially for a quarterback of his caliber. Assuming the Chargers have a good off-season and better health in 2023 than in 2022, I fully expect them to rejoin the top-tier NFL offenses next year.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Futures: Los Angeles Chargers
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Slick M.
26 days ago

good one Tyler. I believe Chargers overhauled the strength and conditioning team so that could help too. clearly something is wrong in that building healthwise!

Joe Simonson
25 days ago

It is the Spanos curse. Please sell the team! please!

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