Ladd McConkey's Fantasy Football Outlook in Los Angeles

Apr 29, 2024
Ladd McConkey's Fantasy Outlook in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Chargers traded up to the second pick of Round 2 to select WR Ladd McConkey. He’ll join a totally new era for Chargers football, with HC Jim Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman now in the mix and an offensive roster quite different from the 2023 version.

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Ladd McConkey: The Prospect

He redshirted his freshman year at UGA and was second on the offense in receptions (31) and touchdowns (5) in 2021 during the team’s first National Championship run. In McConkey’s next season, he tied TE Brock Bowers in touchdowns (7), and sadly, injuries hampered the tail end of 2022 and some of last year, putting him on the field for just nine contests in 2023.

McConkey is explosive off the snap and is smooth in his route running. He boasts an underrated speed in both his downfield routes and after the catch. In the SEC the 22-year-old was used to playing in big games against elite talent so shouldn’t be intimidated by NFL corners.

Ladd McConkey Production at Georgia, 2021-2023
Year Games Receptions Yards Avg Yd/Rec TDs Rushing Yards Rushing TDs
2021 15 31 447 14.4 5 44 1
2022 15 58 762 13.1 7 134 2
2023 9 30 478 15.9 2 38 1

McConkey’s lack of elite production is concerning for some, however, the competition was stiff as he played with Bowers, George Pickens, and Adonai Mitchell at times. He’s highly athletic, polished, and versatile, and is stepping into a primo situation in LA with little target competition.

Ladd McConkey With the Chargers

Landing in the Chargers offense was a blessing for McConkey, as many draft pundits had him going to the lusterless Patriots. LA revamped their WR room significantly this offseason, trading Keenan Allen to the Bears and discharging Mike Williams to eventually sign with the New York Jets. Their RB depth chart also got a makeover with Austin Ekeler now in Washington, and the former Raven tandem of Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins leading the pack. All that movement plus the departure of TE Gerald Everett has left a whopping 395 targets available from 2023, which is the most in the NFL, and just Joshua Palmer and the underwhelming Quentin Johnston to catch balls from the talented Justin Herbert.

The team did add two more WRs later in the draft - Jerry Rice’s son Brenden Rice and Cornelius Johnson - both in the seventh round, but considering the draft capital spent and the trade-up for McConkey, he should get the first crack at taking over the WR1 volume from Palmer.

This offense should run the ball a ton, which isn’t ideal for McConkey at the start, but he does play predominantly in the slot, which is where Allen lived the most last season when he saw 150 targets. Let’s assume the rookie gets 100 targets in his first season with Herbert slinging the rock. That will present some solid fantasy value, especially if he becomes a safety valve for the QB.

Fantasy Outlook for McConkey and the Chargers Offense

Justin Herbert is currently the QB15 in early Underdog drafts with an affordable price tag of 10.10. This will be a run-first offense, so he can’t be considered more than a QB2, but he may have some spike weeks into fantasy QB1 territory.

McConkey should challenge Palmer for WR1 duties and even with a reduced passing volume compared to recent years for LA, should be considered a WR4/5 with PPR upside. He’s currently Underdog’s WR54 at spot 10.05. As for Palmer, his outlook remains relatively unchanged since the Chargers didn’t draft a WR with pick No. 5, and he’ll likely share WR1 duties with McConkey throughout the season. In 2022, when both Allen and Williams missed time, Palmer finished as WR40 in half-PPR scoring, which is likely his ceiling in 2024.

Johnston didn’t do himself any favors last year as a rookie and currently projects as the team’s WR3. With likely fewer three-WR sets in this new coaching regime and a run-first mentality, Johnston is in WR6 territory in best ball formats and likely a last-round stab or waiver-wire candidate in redraft leagues.

Bottom Line

  • Ladd McConkey landed in a solid spot for immediate fantasy output with the LA Chargers, as they have a massive 395 targets available from the 2023 season.
  • He should compete with Joshua Palmer for WR1 duties from the start and serve as a nice safety valve for Justin Herbert in what should be a run-heavy offense.
  • McConkey should be considered a WR4/5 ahead of the season, with plenty of upside in any PPR-type format. He’s currently the WR54 with a 10.05 pricetag in early Underdog drafts.
  • Palmer should be drafted in the same WR4/5 range, which is likely his ceiling, while Quentin Johnston is nothing more than a last-round dart in redraft leagues and a WR6 in best ball formats.
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