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Coaching Matters: 2021 Los Angeles Chargers Coaching Staff Preview

After every NFL season, NFL teams take the time to evaluate not only the players but also the coaching staff and front office as well. While many teams choose to retain the same head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator, a few other teams opt to go in a new direction with their coaching staff.

One team that shook up their coaching staff this offseason was the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers let go former head coach Anthony Lynn, former offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to bring in Brandon Staley, Joe Lombardi, and Renaldo Hill to be the new leaders of the team. Staley will be the team's new head coach, Lombardi will be the new offensive coordinator, and Hill will be the new defensive coordinator.

This article will look at the potential impact this coaching staff will have on the players and try to pinpoint the Chargers players' fantasy values in it.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow our analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

The Baseline

To get a better understanding of the value the Chargers coaches help bring to this team, we can look at the NFL league averages in each of the past two years in a variety of statistical categories and then compare them to the averages achieved by the Chargers' coaches. Here are 'The Baseline' NFL league averages over the past couple of years:

QB Impact

Year Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 League Average
34.87 251.78 1.56 3.56 15.04 0.16
2020 League Average 35.19 254.88 1.70 4.19 18.43 0.25

RB Impact

Year RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds. RB Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
21.77 92.96 0.68 5.10 6.64 40 0.19
2020 League Average
21.68 95.13 0.75 4.71 6.14 34.94 0.18

WR Impact

Year WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
12.05 19.59 158.39 0.95
2020 League Average
13.24 20.21 166.67 1.04

TE Impact

Year TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 League Average
4.70 6.88 50.99 0.38
2020 League Average
4.76 7.03 51.29 0.45

Defense Impact

Year Points Allowed Pass Yds Given Up Run Yds Given Up Plays Against Yds/Play
Turnovers Forced
22.8 235 112.9 63.5 5.5 1.4
24.8 240.2 118.9 64.3 5.6 1.3

Previous Coaching Staff

In order to get an understanding of how the Los Angeles Chargers fantasy players may be impacted this year, we also need to look at some of the key members of the Los Angeles Chargers previous coaching staff: former head coach Anthony Lynn, former offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. By doing this, we will have a better understanding of where the new regime is starting from and where the primary changes will occur.

Former Head Coach: Anthony Lynn

QB Impact

Year Games Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 Chargers 16 37.31 290.5 1.5 1.38 2.25 0
2020 Chargers 16 39.19 284.25 1.94 3.88 14.94 0.31
Lynn's Career Averages (OC/HC) 78 35.13 267.88 1.65 2.92 10.77 0.14

RB Impact

Year Games RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds.
RB Rec. TDs
2019 Chargers 16 20.81 86.81 0.69 9.06 11.06 82.81 0.63
2020 Chargers 16 24.31 95 0.38 7.75 9.31 54.06 0.13
Lynn's Career Averages (OC/HC) 78 22.81 101.26 0.82 6.71 8.50 57.15 0.35

WR Impact

Year Games WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 Chargers 16 11.13 18.31 156.19 0.5
2020 Chargers 16 12.69 20.31 170.63 1.19
Lynn's Career Averages (OC/HC) 78 11.47 18.76 159.53 0.92

TE Impact

Year Games TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 Chargers 16 4.25 6.13 49.5 0.38
2020 Chargers 16 5.06 8.13 58 0.5
Lynn's Career Averages (OC/HC) 78 4.33 6.59 49.27 0.36

 

Former Offensive Coordinator: Shane Steichen

QB Impact

Year Games Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2019 Chargers 8 36.38 290.75 1.5 1.38 1.63 0
2020 Chargers 16 39.19 284.25 1.94 3.88 14.94 0.31
Steichen's Career Averages (OC/HC) 24 38.25 286.42 1.79 3.04 10.5 0.21

RB Impact

Year Games RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds.
RB Rec. TDs
2019 Chargers 8 23.63 108 0.88 9.38 11.88 94.25 0.38
2020 Chargers 16 24.31 95 0.38 7.75 9.31 54.06 0.13
Steichen's Career Averages (OC/HC) 24 24.08 99.33 0.54 8.29 10.17 67.46 0.21

WR Impact

Year Games WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2019 Chargers 8 10 15.88 149.75 0.63
2020 Chargers 16 12.69 20.31 170.63 1.19
Steichen's Career Averages (OC/HC) 24 11.79 18.83 163.67 1

TE Impact

Year Games TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2019 Chargers 8 4.5 6.75 46.75 0.5
2020 Chargers 16 5.06 8.13 58 0.5
Steichen's Career Averages (OC/HC) 24 4.88 7.67 54.25 0.5

 

Former Defensive Coordinator: Gus Bradley

Year Games Points Allowed Pass Yds Given Up Run Yds Given Up Plays Against Yds/Play Turnovers Forced
2019 Chargers 16 21.56 200.25 112.81 57.69 5.43 0.88
2020 Chargers 16 26.63 223.63 119.81 62.31 5.51 1.19
Bradley's Career Averages (DC/HC) 190 23.14 228.03 115.99 64.13 5.37 1.35

 

2021 Offense

2021 Offensive Coordinator: Joe Lombardi

QB Impact

Year Games Team Pass Att. Team Pass Yds. Team Pass TDs QB Carries QB Rush Yds. QB Rush TDs
2014 Detroit Lions 16 37.75 267.75 1.38 2.69 5.81 0.13
2015 Detroit Lions 7 43 293.86 1.86 2 8.86 0
Lombardi's Career Averages (OC/HC) 23 39.35 275.70 1.52 2.48 6.74 0.09

RB Impact

Year Games RB Carries RB Rush Yds. RB Rush TDs RB Rec. RB Targets RB Rec. Yds.
RB Rec. TDs
2014 Detroit Lions 16 21.13 80.06 0.56 6.75 10.13 55.69 0.31
2015 Detroit Lions 7 16.43 53 0.29 8.29 11 71 0.43
Lombardi's Career Averages (OC/HC) 23 19.70 71.83 0.48 7.22 10.39 60.35 0.35

WR Impact

Year Games WR Rec. WR Targets WR Rec. Yds. WR Rec. TDs
2014 Detroit Lions 16 13.13 21.44 184.94 0.88
2015 Detroit Lions 7 14.29 23.71 170.29 0.86
Lombardi's Career Averages (OC/HC) 23 13.48 22.13 180.48 0.87

TE Impact

Year Games TE Rec. TE Targets TE Rec. Yds. TE Rec. TDs
2014 Detroit Lions 16 2.56 4.63 24.5 0.13
2015 Detroit Lions 7 4.43 6.86 52.14 0.57
Lombardi's Career Averages (OC/HC) 23 3.13 5.30 32.91 0.26

 

Joe Lombardi Takeaways & Expectations

The grandson of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, Joe Lombardi has been coaching in the NFL since 2006. While he's primarily been the New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach (2009-2013, 2016-2020) over this time, he also had a 23 game stretch where he was the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator (2014-2015) before he was fired and replaced with Jim Bob Cooter. During his time with the Detroit Lions, Lombardi ran a very pass-happy offense that averaged 39.35 passing attempts per game. If this level of passing usage continues with the Chargers, Justin Herbert will have a massive ceiling and could end up throwing the ball more than any other quarterback during the 2021 season.

Besides passing, from a fantasy perspective, it's also important to look at the amount of rushing work that a quarterback may receive since it can provide a major boost to their fantasy production.

With Matthew Stafford as his starting quarterback, Lombardi saw his quarterback room average just 2.48 carries per game. Justin Herbert showed more willingness to run in 2020 than Stafford ever has, averaging 3.67 carries per game and it's likely that Lombardi lets Herbert continue to run three or four times per game. Overall, Herbert has a ton of passing upside in Lombardi's system and won't be a liability on the ground either. Because of this, Herbert is a strong QB1 for the 2021 NFL season with top-five fantasy QB upside.

Examining Joe Lombardi's running back rooms over the course of his career as an offensive coordinator it's a bit of a mixed bag. In the 23 games that Lombardi's been an offensive coordinator, his running back room has averaged 19.70 carries and 0.48 rushing touchdowns per game - both of which are well below-average.

Lombardi's inability to feed his backs on the ground was one of the big reasons that he got fired after 23 games as the Lions offensive coordinator. With Lombardi as the team's play-caller, the Chargers won't be handing it off to their backs 24.31 times per game like they did last year and likely see a major drop in rushing attempts.

But besides the amount of volume (carries) on the ground that Lombardi has historically provided, we also need to consider how that volume has been distributed over the course of his career - is Lombardi rolling with a bell-cow or a running back by committee approach?

Examining the data, while Joe Lombardi did not give his tailbacks a lot of carries he did lean towards more of a bell-cow approach on the ground - giving Joique Bell 223 carries during the 2014 NFL season. There are some concerns on how many carries lead back Austin Ekeler can handle since he has yet to see more than 132 carries in a single season (2019), but it is encouraging to see that Lombardi may be willing to feature Ekeler more on the ground if he can prove he's capable of handling it.

The final aspect we should look at regarding Joe Lombardi's running backs is how much he has traditionally utilized them as pass-catchers. Over the course of his career, Lombardi's running back room has averaged an unheard of 10.39 targets per game - one of the best marks in the league among active play-callers.

It is important to note that the Chargers also frequently utilized their running backs in the passing game under Anthony Lynn with the team hovering around ten tailback targets per game in each of the last two years. But nonetheless, it is encouraging to see that Ekeler's receiving upside will remain as one of the highest in the NFL among running backs for the 2021 season. Overall, Ekeler should have a very nice fantasy season if he stays healthy and his low-end RB1/high-end RB2 valuation is warranted.

Jumping to the wide receiver position, Lombardi has provided his wide receivers with 22.13 targets per game over the course of his 23 game career as an offensive coordinator.

This usage is very encouraging to see. Lombardi's career average of 22.13 wide receiver targets per game is higher than the number of targets per game former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn (18.76) and former Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen (18.83) provided their wide receivers over the course of their careers. In Lombardi's system, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams should receive more usage in 2021 and put up better fantasy production in general.

Lastly, Lombardi's historical usage of tight ends has been slightly below-average. Over the course of his career as an offensive coordinator, Lombardi's tight end room has averaged 5.30 targets per game.

Lombardi's tight end usage with the Lions left something to be desired. With the Chargers' current roster, it's unlikely that Lombardi changes his strategy in utilizing the tight end position. Jared Cook will likely have some solid weeks here and there, but overall doesn't have enough upside to be a good draft target in fantasy drafts.

Fantasy Relevant Players: Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, Justin Jackson, Larry Rountree IIIKeenan Allen, Mike Williams, Josh Palmer, Tre' McKittyJalen Guyton, Jared Cook, and Virgil Green

 

2021 Defense

2021 Head Coach: Brandon Staley

Brandon Staley had a meteoric rise in the coaching ranks to become the Chargers head coach. In 2016, he was the defensive coordinator at Division III college John Carroll. Then in 2017, he made the jump to the NFL, spending time as the Chicago Bears (2017-2018) and the Denver Broncos (2019) as an outside linebackers coach. Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay noticed the great job that Staley was doing, and brought him in to be the team's defensive coordinator in 2020. Let's take a look at some of the Rams defensive statistics during Brandon Staley's one year as the defensive coordinator.

Year Games Points Allowed Pass Yds Given Up Run Yds Given Up Plays Against Yds/Play
Turnovers Forced
2020 Rams 16 18.5 190.69 91.25 61.81 4.56 1.38
Staley's Career Averages (DC/HC)
16 18.5 190.69 91.25 61.81 4.56 1.38

2021 Defensive Coordinator: Renaldo Hill

Renaldo Hill Coaching Career
Year Team Role
2012 Wyoming (College)
Graduate Assistant
2013 Wyoming (College)
Cornerbacks Coach
2015 Pittsburgh (College)
Defensive Backs Coach
2016 Pittsburgh (College)
Defensive Backs Coach
2017 Pittsburgh (College)
Defensive Backs Coach
2018 Miami Dolphins
Assistant Defensive Backs Coach
2019 Denver Broncos
Defensive Backs Coach
2020 Denver Broncos
Defensive Backs Coach

In just his first year as the Rams defensive coordinator, Staley had the Rams as the number one defense in the league in both points allowed and yards allowed. The defense shut down the pass, with opposing teams putting up just 190.69 passing yards per game against the Rams (league average: 240.2). They shut down the run, with opposing teams averaging just 91.25 rushing yards per game (league average: 118.9). With defensive playmakers like Joey Bosa and Derwin James already on the Chargers roster, Staley & his staff will take the defense to a new level in 2021. From a fantasy perspective, the Chargers D/ST should be a great upside D/ST pick late in your fantasy draft.

 

Other Notable Assistants

Special Teams Coordinator: Derius Swinton II - Derius Swinton II will be brand new to the Chargers coaching staff in 2021. He's been coaching since 2007 and coaching in the NFL since 2009, spending time with the St. Louis Rams (2009-2011), Kansas City Chiefs (2012), Denver Broncos (2013-2014), Chicago Bears (2015, 2017), San Francisco 49ers (2016), Detroit Lions (2018), and Arizona Cardinals (2019-2020). He was the special teams coordinator of the 49ers back in 2016.

QB Coach: Shane Day - Shane Day is brand new to the Los Angeles Chargers coaching staff in 2021. He's previously been a quarterbacks coach for the Chicago Bears (2010-2011) and San Francisco 49ers (2019-2020). He's also coached for the Washington Redskins (2014-2015) as an assistant offensive line coach and for the Miami Dolphins as a tight ends coach (2016-2018).

RB Coach: Derrick Foster - Derrick Foster is entering his first year with the Los Angeles Chargers. He spent the last three years at the University of Iowa as a running backs coach.

WR Coach: Chris Beatty - 2021 will Chris Beatty's first year in the NFL as a coach. At the college level he was the wide receivers coach for Vanderbilt (2011), Wisconsin (2013-2014), Maryland (2016-2018), and Pittsburgh (2019-2020).

TE Coach: Kevin Koger - 2021 will be Kevin Koger's first season as the Los Angeles Chargers tight ends coach. He was previously the Green Bay Packers offensive quality control coach (2019-2020).

OL Coach: Frank Smith - Frank Smith is new to the Los Angeles Chargers coaching staff in 2021. At the NFL level he's previously been an assistant offensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints (2010-2014), a tight ends coach for the Chicago Bears (2015-2017), and a tight ends coach for the Las Vegas Raiders (2018-2020). He also served as an offensive line coach at Butler from 2006-2009.

DL Coach: Giff Smith - Giff Smith is one of the only coaches to remain from the previous regime, and has been the Los Angeles Chargers defensive line coach since 2016. He has also been a defensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills (2010-2012) and Tennessee Titans (2014-2015).

LB Coach: Michael Wilhoite - Michael Wilhoite will be the Los Angeles Chargers linebackers coach in 2021. As a coach, he's spent time with the New Orleans Saints as a special teams assistant (2019) and defensive assistant (2020). He also played linebacker in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers (2011-2016) and the Seattle Seahawks (2017).

OLB Coach: Jay Rodgers - Jay Rodgers is brand new to the Los Angeles Chargers coaching staff in 2021. He previously spent time with the Denver Broncos (2009-2014) in a variety of roles, including as a defensive line coach (2012-2014) as well as serving as the Chicago Bears defensive line coach from 2015-2020.

Secondary Coach: Derrick Ansley - 2021 will be Derrick Ansley's first year as a part of the Los Angeles Chargers coaching staff. At the NFL level, he's been a defensive backs coach for the Oakland Raiders (2018) and at the college level he's worked at Alabama (2010-2011, 2016-2017), Tennessee (2012, 2019-2020), and Kentucky (2013-2015).

 

Enjoy this series? Be sure to check out all of the other 'Coaching Matters' team previews: Houston TexansJacksonville JaguarsIndianapolis ColtsTennessee TitansCleveland BrownsBaltimore RavensPittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Las Vegas Raiders

Follow Eli Grabanski on Twitter: @3li_handles



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Ja'Marr Chase - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS and Betting Picks

Top Fantasy Football Rebound Candidates For 2024 Including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Jacobs, and Drake London

We may be in the heat of basketball season, but we're discussing a different kind of rebound today. Some of the most talented athletes in the world have suboptimal seasons but there's often a bounceback year in the near future. The talent isn't waning, the circumstances surrounding them have been altered. Below we dive into... Read More


Jayden Reed - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Early 2024 Wide Receiver Sleepers And Draft Targets For Fantasy Football

There should be a lot of changes atop the wide receiver group in fantasy football next year. Players like Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, and Cooper Kupp will all fall in drafts, while Puka Nacua will fly up drafts boards in 2024. Nacua will go from undrafted in 2023 to a likely top-20 pick this upcoming... Read More


Dan Campbell - NFL Head Coach, NFC, Detroit Lions

FFPC Dynasty Fantasy Football Orphan Teams: An Authentic Challenge

At its very core, the game of fantasy football is intended to deliver a unique experience in which you are an NFL owner, general manager, and head coach, all in one role. Seasonal fantasy football replicates the responsibilities in fun, user-friendly packaging, but fantasy football dynasty leagues appeal even more to a savvy fantasy player... Read More


2024 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft: Fantasy Football Studs, Sleepers, and Values

Football never sleeps at RotoBaller! With the Scouting Combine underway and the NFL Draft season heating up, the countdown is on for 2024 fantasy football. We're taking a first look at how things might shape up in Dynasty fantasy drafts with our first Rookie Mock Draft of 2024. RotoBaller analysts Brandon Murchison and LaQuan Jones... Read More


Dak Prescott - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Biggest Quarterback Surprises - Fantasy Football Year In Review

The 2023 fantasy football season is in the rearview mirror. While the upcoming fantasy season is still months away, it’s never too early to start preparing. One of the more critical things fantasy players can do to prepare is look back at the previous season and look at trends and surprises. Let’s look at the... Read More


Tyjae Spears - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Early 2024 Running Back Sleepers And Draft Targets For Fantasy Football

Running backs have always dominated the first round of fantasy drafts, but that has changed in recent years. Taking a wide receiver in the first round has become a more likely strategy by fantasy managers. In 2024 drafts, more wideouts should be going in the first round than running backs. However, that doesn't mean running... Read More


Latest Updates on Injured NFL Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Anthony Richardson, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, and Daniel Jones

The 2024 offseason is still in the early stages, but it's time to check on six franchise quarterbacks who suffered major injuries during the 2023 campaign. A franchise missing its quarterback to begin a season can mightily derail its chances to win, creating a massive hole to climb out of. We have the latest injury... Read More


Rome Odunze - College Football Rankings, NCAA CFB DFS Lineup Picks

Best Fantasy Football Landing Spots For 2024 Rookie Wide Receivers

With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the ramifications of where some of these players get selected will have a significant impact on their fantasy football value. In dynasty leagues, fantasy managers may not worry about landing spots as much because once you draft them in that kind of league, you have them for their entire... Read More


Jayden Daniels - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, QB, NFL Draft Sleepers

Coach Knows Ball: Jayden Daniels 2024 NFL Draft Film Breakdown Of LSU QB

Welcome to Coach Knows Ball, an NFL Draft series analyzing the top prospects in the 2024 class. I'm a college football coach with nine years of NCAA experience and have been scouting NFL Draft prospects for over 15 years. This series will give a deep dive into the film of some of the top players... Read More


Rome Odunze - College Football Rankings, NCAA CFB DFS Lineup Picks

Top Five WR Prospects Of The 2024 NFL Draft: Scouting Reports And Analysis

Ah, the sweet season of the NFL Draft, the light at the end of the post-Super Bowl tunnel of despair. As the last bits of confetti find their resting places and the echoes of the game's final moments whisper into silence, we all start to dream a little bigger. It's this enchanted time when losses... Read More


Tyjae Spears - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Fantasy Football Running Backs Rankings (Tiers 4-8)- 2024 Best Ball Leagues

We are now rapidly approaching the process of free agency, which will soon provide pathways for some running backs to seize significant roles in their new landing spots. Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler, and D'Andre Swift are among the collection of backs who could resurface in new environments. The player movement that will eventually... Read More


Anthony Richardson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL News

Early 2024 Quarterback Sleepers And Draft Targets For Fantasy Football

The quarterback landscape in fantasy has changed in recent years with more and more managers selecting one early. Last year, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Jalen Hurts all went in the first three rounds. That shouldn't change either in 2024 fantasy drafts, but the order of those quarterbacks might.  After another QB1 finish, Allen should... Read More


Geno Smith - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL DFS Picks

2024 Free Agency Preview: Biggest Positional Needs For The Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks, for the first time since 2009, will have a new head coach. The front office opted to move on from Pete Carroll. Over the past three years, he has fallen further and further behind Sean McVay (Rams) and Kyle Shanahan (49ers). Instead of selecting a strong offensive mind to score with these two... Read More