The Fantasy Football Impact of Quentin Johnston to the Los Angeles Chargers
With the 21st pick in the NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers selected Quentin Johnston, making him the second wide receiver off the board. Johnston will have heavy competition for targets in his rookie year but he is going to an offense that can support multiple pass-catchers and offer the first-year receiver a chance to make an immediate fantasy impact.
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Quentin Johnston’s Prospect Profile
Quentin Johnston, an early-declare out of TCU, catapulted his Draft stock as a junior, catching 60 balls for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns. While not a straight-line burner, Johnston posted an elite speed score and has the size (6-foot-3, 208 pounds) that many coaches love for a perimeter receiver.
In Johnston’s Reception Perception profile, Matt Harmon notes that the rookie needs to develop some of his route running and improve on drops and contested catches.
A bit of a project for a player with such high Draft capital, Harmon had this to say about Johnston’s chances in the NFL:
“If a team in the late first round is confident in their ecosystem, has proven players to put ahead of Johnston in the pecking order and has a quality quarterback, there’s no reason not to take a chance on his theoretical alpha ceiling.”
That’s almost exactly the situation will be in with the Chargers.
How Quentin Johnston Fits in the Chargers’ Passing Game
There are only a handful of offenses in the NFL that can consistently support three or more fantasy-relevant pass-catchers and the Chargers are one of them. In each of the past two seasons, Los Angeles has ranked fourth in passing rate over expectation and they ranked second in passing yards per game in 2022.
For Johnston to see a heavy snap share in his rookie season, the Chargers will have to run a lot of three-wide sets but that seems quite likely. Last season, this offense had three receivers on the field on 78% of dropbacks, the 12th-highest rate in the league and that was without a reliable WR3. Johnston will give the Chargers the opportunity to roll out three receivers even more with Keenan Allen already running 73% of his routes from the inside.
While Johnston can certainly work himself into a significant snap share, commanding a fantasy-relevant target share in Year 1 could be more difficult. If Austin Ekeler remains a Charger, LA will be returning three players that averaged over 7.2 targets per game, a 122+ target pace over 17 games. As a team, the Chargers have the eighth-fewest vacated targets going into 2023.
With some growth to do before realizing his upside, it’s unlikely that Johnston usurps Allen or Mike Williams in 2023 but the rookie could be forced into a larger-than-expected role if either Allen or Williams misses time. Over the last three years, that receiving duo has missed a combined 20 games including 13 last season.
All of this assumes that Johnston will immediately play ahead of Josh Palmer, who cracked 100 targets in 2022. However, after playing 85% of snaps when active in Weeks 1–13, Palmer’s snap share dipped below 70% over the final five weeks of the regular season when Allen and Williams were both active.
Projecting the Chargers’ Offense in Fantasy Football
The biggest wrench that can get thrown into the Chargers' 2023 projection would be if Ekeler is actually dealt to another team. That would open up over 100 targets and would likely push some of those targets outside—that may be the best-case scenario for Quentin Johnston’s fantasy upside in his rookie season.
As this offense currently stands, though, its 2023 fantasy projection should mostly reflect 2022 results—Ekeler is a top-five fantasy back while Justin Herbert is a top-10 quarterback that can support both Allen and Williams as viable fantasy starters. The scraps will go to Johnston, Palmer, and Gerald Everett.
How many scraps each of those three get will largely depend on Johnston’s Year 1 development. If LA is content putting him on the outside and dealing with some of his shortcomings, Palmer will be all but an afterthought while Everett will be another touchdown-dependent tight end streaming option.
That uncertainty, though, might be overshadowed by rookie hype. In post-Draft best ball leagues, Johnston already has an ADP in the top 100 as the WR46 off the board. While that asking price is palatable, if he gains any more steam, he could become one of the easier fades in 2023 fantasy drafts.
The Bottom Line
- Quentin Johnston is a big receiver that has the physical attributes to play on the outside. As a roue-runner and catcher, he likely needs to develop at the pro level.
- In Johnston’s rookie year, he figures to be fourth in targets at best. As the WR46 in early Underdog drafts, there is some upside in case he starts immediately but if his ADP rises throughout the summer, he becomes an easy fade.
- Johnston doesn’t change the projection much for Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, or Mike Williams—all project as solid fantasy starters and are being drafted as such.
- The big win for Johnston could come if Austin Ekeler is traded—that would open up over 100 targets in the offense.