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When Hunter Henry tore his ACL this summer the immediate question was whether the team would bring back Antonio Gates. Well, Gates didn’t want any part of training camp or the preseason, but a week before the regular season he did return to the Chargers. What type of impact this has on the team depends on whether you think there’s a big difference between Gates at 38 years old and Virgil Green. I’m not sure there is.

This is a small downgrade for Austin Ekeler, Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams if only because the Chargers now have two tight ends they can use in the red zone, and it’s more likely they now give 100 targets to the position. But it’s a very small downgrade and all three of those players still have upside if you want to bet on it.

As for Gates himself, I’m not expecting much. Yes, he’ll likely find his way into the end zone a handful of times, but good luck predicting when that will be. He’s a low-end, low-volume, touchdown-dependent No. 2 tight end. And Green is once again irrelevant in Fantasy.

Here are the updated Fantasy rankings for the Chargers.

*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they’re not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.

PLAYER

EXPECTED FP

POS. RANK

EXPECTED PPR FP

POS. RANK

Keenan Allen

188

#5

300

#3

Melvin Gordon

216

#8

275

#6

Philip Rivers

319

#10

319

#10

Austin Ekeler

113

#40

149

#42

Tyrell Williams

112

#51

164

#57

Antonio Gates

69

#27

106

#29

Breaking down the touches

Ken Whisenhunt has spent a lot of time with Philip Rivers and the Chargers, so we have a pretty good idea what to expect from this offense. The one major adjustment from the three year average is that Whisenhunt has called more pass plays with Rivers than he did in Tennessee. That makes sense, because he didn’t have Rivers in Tennessee. Again, the biggest question will be how Whisenhunt distributes all those targets that traditionally go to tight ends in his offense.

Chargers touches
Player RuSHARE RuATT ReSHARE TGT REC TD
Melvin Gordon 67% 277 14% 81 59 10
Austin Ekeler 23% 95 8% 46 37 5
Keenan Allen 0% 0 28% 161 113 7
Tyrell Williams 0% 0 15% 86 53 5
Travis Benjamin 0% 0 10% 58 33 3
Mike Williams 0% 0 10% 58 32 3
Antonio Gates 0% 0 10% 58 37 5

Of note: 

  • Austin Ekeler was extremely productive on a per touch basis, averaging more than five yards per carry and more than 10 yards per reception. If Gordon goes down, Ekeler becomes a top-20 back.
  • One more of the Chargers receivers should be relevant in Fantasy on a week to week basis. Tyrell Williams is the best bet, and should get more than the four targets per game he received in 2017.

The Leftovers

Mike Williams is the most obvious deep sleeper on this team. The Chargers first round pick in 2017 – an odd choice considering their depth at the position – had a pretty terrible rookie season. He missed most of the offseason and the first month of the season with an injury. When he was finally healthy he looked like a rookie who had missed a lot of time. Williams caught less than half of his targets and averaged less than nine yards per reception. 

If the Chargers didn’t already have so many options I would be interested in Williams as a deep sleeper, but even his best play of the preseason came on a pass from Geno Smith. When the first team was on the field it was mostly Allen, Tyrell Williams and Benjamin.

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