Allen’s Tragic Injury Leaves the Chargers in a Bind

Writer - @martzmadness on the Fantasy Life App

As a Chiefs fan, I wanted to vomit last Sunday. The first half of the Chargers-Chiefs contest at Arrowhead was an abominable terror that I wanted to wake up from. The Chargers looked otherworldly, and the Chiefs looked like chumps. The score was 21-3. Melvin Gordon, who had not scored a touchdown all of last year, scored two touchdowns in the first half…the first Charger to do so since Ladanian Tomlinson in 2009. I was convinced that the Chiefs were going 0-16 with the way they were playing…

And then, it happened. On a play that seemed to end in the blink of an eye, Keenan Allen goes down awkwardly on his knee. I was breathless. Not out of anticipation, but out of pure sympathy. The announcers were trying to remain calm about it, but watching him cry as they carted him away, I was not surprised when they announced that Allen had torn his ACL the next day. From that point on, the Chargers went from inscrutable to as fallible as they get. The Chiefs go on to win the contest in overtime in the biggest comeback in franchise history.

I don’t mention this to boast about the Chiefs winning the game. I mention this because the Chargers lost a considerable amount of morale after Allen went down. Perhaps it was queasiness from the injury, or perhaps the momentum simply shifted for one game.

Regardless, with the best receiver on the team out, targets will obviously shift quite a bit. Even with Allen down, Philip Rivers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the game. My prediction is that from this point onward, the Chargers will live and die by the hot hand. One week all of the scoring might be from Tyrell Williams, another week it might all be from Dontrell Inman.

One of the greatest luxuries afforded to the Chargers is that their run game seems to be coming along nicely. Melvin Gordon, as I stated earlier, had 2 touchdowns in a single half (doubling his pay-dirt production of 2015). While he only mustered 54 rushing yards on the day, having a back that they can depend on to pound it into the end zone will be key to keeping the team off of the receivers’ backs (there are no Greg Jennings in this crowd).

Speaking of Chargers running backs, however, here is a bold prediction: Danny Woodhead will have the most receiving touchdowns of any Charger in 2016. I honestly believe that, just since he is such a crutch for Rivers in the Red Zone. He already had a receiving TD in last week’s game, despite only managing a measly 26 yards through the air. With Allen out, I would wager that Woodhead will see a major uptick in targets and churn even more production. Not to mention Woodhead had more carries than Gordon and more rushing yards. If you he somehow isn’t on a roster in your league, he’s slowly climbing the ladder to high-end RB2 status.

The Chargers’ top receiver last week was Tyrell Williams, a home run hitter who had 71 yards on two receptions. Unless you’re in a deep, dark dungeon of a league, this guy should be met with little regard. While he rings as a deep threat, he was targeted five times and dropped three of those balls against a Chiefs secondary that seems to be a shell of its former self. With Allen out, Williams will probably churn similar production.

Travis Benjamin, however, is a name you should imprint on your mind. While he had a pretty putrid game on Sunday, he is now my number one candidate to step into Allen’s shoes. Benjamin was arguably the top target in Cleveland when Josh Gordon was out, and now returns to a similar role with a much better quarterback to sling the rock at him. When Benjamin is hot, he’s like a supernova. When he’s not, you had better hold on tight, because things get ugly quick with this guy. It’s also worth mentioning that Benjamin is the punt returner for the Chargers, and may get some negligible multipurpose yards in the future. For now, I would say he is a dubious flex play at best.

That’s right, I think that the number one target (he was the most highly targeted) on the Chargers is a dubious flex play a best, even with Keenan Allen out for the season. That should make my sentiments on the lower echelon Chargers receivers pretty clear. Dontrelle Inman, Isaiah Burse, Javontee Herndon, Luke Tasker…these guys are risky gambles that are only appropriate to ship out, I kid you not, in 32-team play. With Allen out, I guarantee you that at least one of these guys will get a start and absorb targets and look like Antonio Brown one week. Don’t buy it. These guys are flavors of the week, and unless you’re a magician with some insider information from the Chargers coaching staff, you probably can’t predict what week they will go off. It is better to avoid these men like the plague.

A very longshot to be relevant, as well, are wide receivers Chris Givens and Griff Whalen. Following Allen’s injury, the Chargers worked both of these receivers out. I’ve been hoping for a Chris Givens explosion for a while now. I even picked him up off of the wire in a couple of leagues last year when he got traded to the Ravens. Givens is speedy and his handles are dangerous. I would honestly put him above anybody in that last paragraph, besides Dontrelle Inman. This is all, of course, provided that he even gets on a roster.

And how could we forget Antonio Gates…well, easily. He is rather forgettable. In the twilight of his career, I highly doubt that Gates will have a major explosion any time soon, even with Allen out. He may see a few more targets, but the odds are that Antonio Gates will be irrelevant. With a budding second-year running back and Danny Woodhead strutting like a peacock, those two studs will probably absorb the red zone targets.