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NFL Draft 32 for 32 - Los Angeles Chargers

Lost in all the hoopla of the season put together by the Kansas City Chiefs was yet another solid year from Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Although he finished just outside of QB1 range (QB13) by season's end, there were many weeks in which Rivers was a justifiable starter in fantasy. In fact, in nine of his starts he finished the week as QB10 or higher. But as is always the case with Rivers, there will be times in which turnovers can be a problem. At the end of the day, he is a virtual lock for 30 TD and will be a QB that is among the last fantasy starters drafted. He is a prime target for those that like to wait at QB, draft two, and play the weekly matchups.

His safety valve, Keenan Allen, enjoyed a second straight season in which he played all 16 games. He has had similar success in the last two seasons, but with a higher rate of scoring at the position in 2018, he fell to finish as WR12. As long as Rivers is the QB, Allen should be viewed as a solid WR1 in fantasy and will be drafted as such. The team will be looking for more consistency out of the third-year receiver Mike Williams in 2019, and he could be a player drafted late and viewed as a steal.

The balanced attack of the Chargers also likes to lean on Melvin Gordon, which makes them a tough team to defend. A late first-round pick in 2018, his finish as RB8 paid off his draft value for owners. Missing four games on the year, his 14 total TDs were quite impressive. Rushing for just shy of 1,000 yards on the year and adding in another 50 receptions, Gordon is the all-around PPR back that fantasy owners covet. If he can stay healthy for a full season, Gordon should be a back that will finish 2019 as a top-five player at the position, making him a solid pick in the first round of drafts. With his injury history, it may not be a bad idea to grab either Austin Ekeler (PPR value) or Justin Jackson (possible starter if Gordon goes down) as handcuffs later in drafts.

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Projected Top Three Picks

First Round- Christian Wilkins, DT Clemson (28th overall)
Second Round- Deebo Samuel, WR South Carolina (60th)
Third Round- Dalton Risner, OT Kansas State (91st)

Remaining Picks
Fourth Round- 130th
Fifth Round- 166th
Sixth Round- 200th
Seventh Round- 242nd


Needs Analysis

As for the draft, the Chargers are in a unique position. Could they start making plans on a QB to groom after Rivers? They need to take a strong look at a subpar offensive line and improve that with this class. While on the defensive side of the ball, they could acquire some depth to keep this team as one of the top units in the league.

Christian Wilkins gives the Chargers a defensive tackle that has the desired combination of athleticism and production to plug in and play right away. He is a slippery, upfield three-technique player that can also make plays outside of his area. His lower pad level causes instant disruption in a backfield for negative plays. His play style is busy and agile, which should keep him on the field for more snaps on this defense. The Chargers, with this pick, only add to a defense that will be rostered as a starting unit in fantasy for 2019.

Deebo Samuel comes in and would give the Chargers even more of a toughness and edge at the receiver position. He could find a role early on as the slot receiver for this team, which fits in perfectly with his strengths. He lacks the suddenness some might desire at the position, keeping him from moving outside much. But the toughness and competitive drive are hard to ignore. He plays bigger than he is and will benefit from the scheme in which the Chargers employ. The team will do well to play him in bunch formations, get the ball in his hands, and let him to the work with his plus YAC skills. He may not be a player to target in 2019 drafts, however, as he will be blocked for many targets with the options ahead of him. But moving forward in dynasty formats, if Mike Williams continues to disappoint, the team could move on from him in a couple of years, allowing Samuel to step into a bigger role. He's certainly worthy of a look as a late second round/early third round pick in rookie drafts.

The pick of Dalton Risner will hopefully be a boost to an offensive line in dire need o just that. The Chargers excelled in run blocking for most of the season, but pass protection for Rivers broke down as the year went on. Risner has an average length and athletic ability, but he has the tools needed to excel at the position. He plays very consistently and is rarely out of position. He has some positional flexibility that can allow the team to move him around the line. He should come in and figure into the plans right away and hopefully can get the offensive line back to where it needs to be for the team to succeed.

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