The day has arrived when Keenan Allen rejoins teammates for the start of the Chargers’ voluntary workout program. Phase one of a nine-week regimen features two weeks of strength and conditioning. Allen will be a full participant Monday, the injury that ended a banner season mid-breath well behind him.
He lacerated his kidney Nov. 1 on that touchdown in Baltimore.
The ailment ended his season but not before eight games from which he can build.
“Just try to dominate,” Allen said, “knowing that I can dominate the league like I did last year for those eight games. Hopefully, I can come back and do that for a full 16. … I feel 100 percent. I have no aches, no pains. The kidney healed up really well. I’ve just been working. Ready.”
Allen racked up 67 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns in eight games, so he was on pace for a 134-1550-8 season prior to lacerating his kidney. At the halfway mark, he was the #7 receiver in standard formats and #4 in PPR. He garnered 11.1 targets per game, but that number could decline a bit since Antonio Gates sat out four of those games. However, Allen saw 30 targets in three games with Gates, and in the third game (five targets), he only played 60% of the snaps due to the injured kidney. Given his usage, the fourth-year receiver a threat to finish as a WR1 in 2016.
Monday, April 4, 2016, 9:05pm
“Out with the old in with the new,” Cumberland wrote on social media. “Thanks for the 6 years the Jets organization gave me. Thanks to the Chargers organization for the opportunity to make a new home.”
In San Diego, he’ll be paired with eight-time Pro Bowler Antonio Gates.
Chandler was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He spent 2007 and 2008 with San Diego (though he was on IR for the '08 season) before landing with the Dallas Cowboys in 2009, spending two seasons bouncing back and forth between the practice squads and active rosters of the Cowboys and Giants before ultimately landing with the Buffalo Bills late in the 2010 season.
He wound up spending four more years with the Bills, ultimately catching 181 passes for 2,112 yards and 17 touchdowns during that stint. He then landed with the New England Patriots for the 2015 season, playing No. 2 to Rob Gronkowski for most of the year and filling in for Gronk as the No. 1 tight end when he missed time. He caught 23 passes for 259 yards and four scores.
Chandler wound up needing knee surgery at the end of the season, though, and according to this Twitter post from his wife, Alissa, that surgery may end his career.
Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has a challenge most coaches would only wish for. He has three starting running backs in his backfield. On the other hand, he has the unenviable task of dividing one football multiple ways.
“It’s my job to get them the ball enough because they can all do different things,” Arians said.
With Chris Johnson re-signing with the Cardinals in March, the backfield tandem of David Johnson, who’s entering his second season, and Andre Ellington became a trio. All three have started for the Cardinals. All three have rushed for at least 581 yards in a season.
But with David Johnson's emergence in the final five games last year after Chris went down with a fractured tibia, he’s established himself as the Cardinals’ feature back.
“David’s earned the right now to be the bell cow,” Arians said. “Everybody’s got to take it from him. But Chris ran for 800 (yards) and probably would have had 1,200 had he stayed healthy. Andre can break the game open.”
David Johnson finished with 581 yards in his rookie season, 442 of which came in the final five games -- the third most in the NFL during that span. Chris Johnson had 814 yards, fourth most in the league at the time he went down. David Johnson is poised to be one of the top fantasy backs in drafts this summer, but will likely lose some work to Chris Johnson and even Ellington on third down. However, Ellington has struggled to stay healthy over the last few years.
Bryant is eligible to apply for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days before 1-year anniversary of the suspension.
Markus Wheaton sees the biggest bump in fantasy value with the news of Bryant's suspension. He caught 44 passes for 749 yards and five touchdowns on the season, but really came on down the stretch, averaging 4.7 catches for 79 yards and 0.67 TD (on 7.8 targets per game) over the final six games of the season. (He was the #12 fantasy receiver in that span.) Though he only gained 53 total receiving yards in two playoff games, he was targeted 13 times, so he was an integral part of the offense late in the year. Wheaton fared well on a per target basis, finishing 22nd and 27th (out of 121 eligible receivers) in fantasy points per target in standard and PPR formats, respectively. Consider Wheaton a fantasy WR3 with WR2 upside. The other players who stand to benefit are TE Ladarius Green (especially in the red zone) and deep threat Darrius Heyward-Bey.
There were better potential landing spots, but this is still great news for his fantasy stock. He'll compete to be the third option in the passing game behind Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. In 13 career games where he's seen at least five targets, he has averaged 3.5 catches for 52 yards and 0.38 TD, which are solid TE1 numbers in both standard and PPR formats. He's not guaranteed at least five targets per game, but the now-retired Heath Miller saw at least five passes come his way in 17 of his last 32 regular season games and his skills were diminishing. Green has the speed to threaten the seam and will see single coverage with Brown and Bryant drawing most of the attention of the defense.
Veteran tight end Antonio Gates will not be leaving San Diego this year.
The 35-year-old Gates has spent his entire 13-year career with the Chargers, and now he’ll remain in San Diego. Although he’s not quite the player he once was, he’s still an important part of the Chargers’ offense. Last year Gates caught 56 passes for 630 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games.
Gates averaged 5.1 catches for 57 yards and 0.45 TD in 11 games, so he was scoring at solid TE1 pace when healthy. He appeared on the injury report for five weeks with knee and hip issues and ended up missing five games -- four due to suspension -- so he finished as the #11 TE in standard formats and #12 in PPR. If the Chargers don't re-sign Ladarius Green or find other significant help at tight end, then Gates will once again be a solid value in the later rounds. Potential owners should be sure to draft a backup or target a surprise TE early in the waiver wire process since it’s likely that Gates will miss some time due to injury as his body continues to break down.
With Malcom Floyd's retirement, the Chargers are losing a field stretcher and they found a good replacement in Benjamin, who managed to produce 68 catches for 966 yards and five touchdowns with a three-headed quarterback throwing to him in Cleveland. He averaged 7.8 targets per game, however, while Floyd averaged just 5.2 T/G after the arrival of Keenan Allen. Stevie Johnson is also under contract and the team figures to re-sign Antonio Gates and/or Ladarius Green, so Benjamin's targets are likely to have a lower ceiling that they did in Cleveland. On the plus side, his quarterback situation will be much better, so he'll certainly be fantasy relevant heading into 2016 fantasy drafts.
As the Bolts charge forward looking for a bounce back 2016 campaign, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is dead set on jumpstarting a rushing attack that has been dormant in recent years.
San Diego’s offense was electric at times over the two seasons between Whisenhunt’s stints as OC, and he is quick to point out all the good the staff accomplished with Philip Rivers at the helm. Nonetheless, the Chargers made a number of coaching changes on offense as only one coach remains in the same position heading into 2016.
A major reason for that change was a need to improve the ground game. The Bolts ranked under 13th in the NFL under Whisenhunt in 2012, yet fell to 30th and 31st the past two seasons.
While the offensive coordinator has numerous priorities throughout the offseason, he admits that is chief amongst them.
Whisenhunt: “...the one thing that stands out is we need to run the football better than we did last year. There is no blame associated there, as there are always factors that are involved. But that is probably the biggest thing we have to do, because then your play action builds off of that, your time of possession increases where you can control the ball and you are in better third down situations. All of those things tie in together."
The Chargers struggled to run the last two seasons, and the addition of Melvin Gordon didn't help in 2015. Whisenhunt's offenses have performed better when he's the OC and not the head coach, so his commitment to the running game should be good news for Gordon. Danny Woodhead likely remains the better option in PPR leagues.
Friday, January 22, 2016, 4:44pm
Thursday, January 21, 2016, 5:50pm
Wednesday, January 20, 2016, 5:55pm
The Chargers have a new offensive coordinator, and it's the old one, sources said Wednesday. Ken Whisenhunt is back after having spent 2013 in San Diego. The team finished with the NFL's fifth-ranked offense that year. Notably, the Chargers ran the football with relative consistency, something that's proven a struggle in the two seasons since Whisenhunt left to become the Titans' head coach. He was relieved from his duties in Tennessee last November.
Last week, the Chargers moved on from Frank Reich, Whisenhunt's successor.
Whisenhunt has had an up-and-down record running offenses in the NFL, but his last stint in San Diego went very well. Interestingly, he's had much more success from a statistical perspective as a coordinator than he has as a head coach. In four seasons as an OC, his offenses have average ranking of 11.0 in points scored. In eight years as a head coach, that average falls to 20.0.
We had a news story earlier in the day that Mike McCoy's job as head coach was safe but other changes were expected. The Chargers were beat up on offense with injuries at WR and didn't have much of a running game all year.
Wherever the Chargers play their home games next year, Mike McCoy will be coaching them.
According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Chargers officials told McCoy this morning he was safe for next season.
McCoy is entering the final year of his contract, and the combination of a 4-12 season and the team’s own uncertain location made his status reasonable to wonder about, especially considering General Manager Tom Telesco was given an extension.
According to the story, the newspaper also reports “substantial changes are coming to the coaching staff,” which could happen as soon as today.