2022 Fantasy Coaching & Coordinator Breakdown: Los Angeles Chargers


You can legitimately make the argument that the 2022 Los Angeles Chargers have the best roster in the NFL.


It should lead to the first playoff appearance of Justin Herbert’s young career, especially with the defense set to vastly improve. The Chargers have an aggressive head coach and an experienced offensive coordinator, but what does it mean for fantasy football?

Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach: Brandon Staley

Chargers HC since 2021, Rams DC in 2020

Staley is coming off his first season as the head coach of the Chargers, a season that featured a ton of excitement. One of the more polarizing coaches in football, Staley demonstrated his best Billy Beane impression, adopting an analytics-based philosophy this past season. Staley was insanely aggressive last season, going for it on fourth down more often than not. Many times it was the correct decision, while others were extremely questionable, including his call to go for it on 4th-and-1 from his own 18-yard line with about 9:00 left in the most important game of Los Angeles’ season. The Chargers did convert 22 fourth downs this past season, the most in all of football. Staley has often stated that when your team has a dynamic offense and a quarterback as good as Herbert, being aggressive makes more sense. Staley is both a former quarterback and defensive coordinator, which gives him perspective from both sides of the ball. Expect Staley to remain very aggressive in regards to his fourth-down decisions this season, especially when you consider that the Chargers defense is even more loaded this year. 

Justin Herbert QB Los Angeles Chargers

With Staley’s track record as a defensive coordinator, it wasn’t surprising to see him call the defensive plays for the Chargers last season. During the 2020 season with the Rams, Staley led a defensive unit that ranked first in opponent points per drive (1.47), second in plays per drive (5.5) and first in yards per drive (24.6). Opposing offenses only scored points on 27.9% of drives against the Rams during that season, the lowest rate in the league. His first season with the Chargers, however, wasn’t as impressive, as Los Angeles allowed the fourth-most points (2.45) and third-most plays per drive (6.4), while opponents scored points on 45.3% of drives, the fourth-highest rate in the league. Los Angeles had an awful run defense last year, stuffing just 14% of runs at or behind the line of scrimmage, the seventh-lowest rate in the league. Meanwhile, according to FTN’s Advanced Rush Defense stats, just 39.5% of carries against the Chargers went for less than four yards and didn’t result in a first down or touchdown, the second-worst rate in football. The Chargers allowed 4.6 yards per carry, while 38.5% of the yards surrendered by this defense came via the run, a top-five rate in the league. Los Angeles has nowhere to go but up when it comes to stopping the run.

In terms of defensive scheme, the Chargers had been running a 4-3 for a while, but Staley prefers a 3-4. Los Angeles’ personnel in 2022 should fit the scheme a lot more, which should lead to a much improved run defense. The team added Khalil Mack, who Staley was with in Chicago during his time as the Bears outside linebackers coach. Meanwhile, the addition of defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day could make a huge difference. Staley was with Joseph-Day in 2020 with the Rams, and during that season, he was PFF’s 16th-best interior defensive lineman against the run. In that span, 14.5% of his defensive snaps led to a stop, per PFF, the highest rate in the league. As far as pass defense is concerned, the Chargers played man defense nearly 30% of the time last season, the 10th-highest rate in the league. And now J.C. Jackson is on the team, who excelled in New England’s man-heavy scheme over the last few years.

Offensive Coordinator: Joe Lombardi

Chargers OC since 2021, Saints QB coach 2016-2020, Lions OC 2014-2015

Lombardi is coming off his first season as the Chargers offensive coordinator, and the results were very strong. Surrounded by tremendous players, Lombardi helped Los Angeles finish the 2021 season well above the league average in pretty much all offensive categories, including yards, points and plays per drive. In fact, Los Angeles ranked second in all three statistics this past season, while scoring points on nearly 46% of drives. Lombardi spent five seasons as the quarterbacks coach in New Orleans working alongside Drew Brees. He had been around the Saints’ quick-hitting passing game that featured plenty of short passes. In his first season alongside Herbert, Lombardi had the Chargers running a similar style of offense. Through the first eight weeks of the season, Herbert, who has one of the strongest arms in the NFL, ranked just 21st among qualified quarterbacks in aDOT at 8.0. During that same span, just 10% of his pass attempts traveled 20 yards or more down the field, the ninth-lowest rate in the league. Herbert also ranked 19th in yards per attempt during the first half of the season (7.1). The Chargers were below average in terms of routes run down the field as a team in 2021, and according to Pro Football Focus, nearly 30% of Herbert’s pass attempts came off a combination of hitch and out routes. Perhaps a huge reason behind Herbert’s lack of downfield passing attempts was the change in usage we saw from wide receiver Mike Williams.

During the offseason, Lombardi was hyping up Williams, which led to the fantasy industry doing the same. Lombardi compared the Chargers passing offense to the passing attacks he was around in New Orleans, stating that the football tends to find the “X” receiver in that offense, which was Williams’ role in Los Angeles. And to start the season, the ball certainly found Williams. During the first six weeks of the season, Williams averaged 8.8 targets per game, flirted with a 25% target share and was WR4 in all of fantasy. During that span, Williams averaged 9.4 yards per target (36th), while his 12.36 aDOT ranked 44th among all wideouts. Just 16.1% of his targets came 20 yards down the field during the first six games of the season, as Williams was being used way more in the intermediate areas of the field. Williams’ usage was more inconsistent down the stretch, but we saw him used on vertical routes less often last season, and because the Chargers lack many vertical wideouts, Herbert attempted a ton of passes in the 10-15-yard areas of the field. Of course, the Chargers offense was still amazing, despite the lack of deep shots, but if Lombardi makes a few changes, this offense could become unstoppable. 

Mike Williams WR Los Angeles Chargers

For starters, Los Angeles runs a ton of bunch formations, which is exactly what we saw from a lot of the Saints offenses over the years. Herbert was very involved in the play-action passing game, ranking top-three in both dropbacks and pass attempts off the play type last season. However, he ranked just 16th in play-action yards per attempt (8.39) and 29th in aDOT off the play type (7.26). The Chargers were an extremely pass-heavy team last season, sporting the league’s fourth-highest passing rate in neutral game scripts (62%). They also posted the fourth-highest passing rate when ahead by at least eight points (51.8%). With continued improvements to the offensive line and an elite running back in Austin Ekeler, perhaps we see a bit more of the running game this season, keeping defenses honest and opening up more play-action shots deep down the field. 


The Chargers played at a very fast pace last season. In neutral game scripts, Los Angeles averaged 25.8 seconds per snap, second to only the Dallas Cowboys. They also averaged the same seconds per snap when ahead by eight or more points, which was the third-fastest pace in the NFL in that split. However, despite the fast pace, Los Angeles didn’t run no-huddle very often. In fact, the Chargers only went no-huddle about 4% of the time in neutral game scripts, a bottom-15 rate in the league. As a result, the Chargers offense averaged a healthy 66.4 plays per game, the fifth-most in football. 

Fantasy Football Takeaways

Justin Herbert has played two NFL seasons and is already legitimately one of the best quarterbacks in the league. After an incredible rookie campaign, Herbert continued to ascend in his sophomore season, throwing 38 touchdowns and passing for 5,014 yards. Only Josh Allen and Tom Brady scored more fantasy points at the quarterback position than Herbert, who averaged over 22 fantasy points per game. Los Angeles was insanely pass-heavy last year, as Herbert attempted 672 passes, averaging just under 40 attempts per game. The Chargers defense should be much better in 2022, but the AFC West could feature plenty of high-scoring contests that will keep Herbert passing at a high rate. On top of his rocket arm, Herbert also added over 300 rushing yards and almost four rushing attempts per game last season. Entering his third season, Herbert is an easy top-five fantasy quarterback.

After flirting with fantasy greatness for a few seasons, Austin Ekeler posted a career campaign in 2021. Ekeler set career-best marks in rush attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, while remaining heavily involved in the passing game, catching 70 balls. The Chargers finally gave Ekeler all of the short-yardage work, which wasn’t the case in past seasons. In 2020, Ekeler only handled 19.6% of the team’s carries from inside the 10-yard line, easily a bottom-10 rate among all running backs. Meanwhile, in his 10 active games, Ekeler only saw two carries from inside the five-yard line, as Kalen Ballage and Joshua Kelley were often used in short-yardage situations. Fast forward to 2021, and Ekeler had one of the best roles in all of fantasy.

This past season, Ekeler saw a huge uptick in short-yardage work. In fact, his 12 carries from inside the five-yard line were tied for the sixth-most among all running backs. He even saw over 52% of the Chargers rushing attempts from that part of the field, while his 10 goal-line carries were the seventh most in the league. Ekeler was efficient, too, converting seven of his 12 looks from inside the five-yard line into touchdowns. While the 18 total touchdowns won’t be repeated, Ekeler presents an insanely high-floor and is one of the five-best running backs in all of fantasy.

Austin Ekeler RB Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have been looking for a consistent complement to Ekeler for a few years now, and they are hoping Isaiah Spiller can fill that role. Spiller has good size (6’0”, 217 pounds) and tremendous footwork, while demonstrating plenty of versatility during his time at Texas A&M. Ekeler averaged just over 17 touches per game last season, while Justin Jackson averaged under six touches per game in contests Ekeler played in. So Spiller is unlikely to provide any standalone value, but if Ekeler is forced to miss any time, the rookie would flirt with top-10 status in one of the league’s best offenses. 

Remember when Keenan Allen was “injury prone?” After some fluke injuries in 2015 and 2016, Allen has now logged at least 14 games in every season since, including 16 games in all but one season. During that span, Allen has hauled in 100 passes four times, finishing as the WR11, WR13, WR6, WR12 and WR3 in PPR formats over the last five seasons. Allen is incredibly safe and consistent, but now at 30 years old, does Allen have an elite ceiling? His yards per route run have dropped in each of the last five seasons, while he’s scored six touchdowns in four of his last five seasons. The volume, however, should remain intact, as Allen is averaging 149.6 targets during that stretch. Allen isn’t going to make a ton of plays down the field, as his 6% deep target rate from 2021 suggests. However, Allen saw double-digit targets in nine different games last season, while recording at least five catches for 50 yards in 12 contests. The floor is incredible, and in full PPR formats, Allen remains a low-end WR1/high-end WR2. 

Mike Williams was well on his way to an insane 2021 season, as only Cooper Kupp scored more fantasy points at the wideout position than Williams through the first five weeks. And while he wasn’t as consistent during the second half of the season, Williams still enjoyed the best season of his career, hauling in 76 passes for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. Williams’ 12 end-zone targets were the sixth most among all wide receivers, while he saw nearly 25% of Los Angeles’ targets from inside the 10-yard line. In such a pass-heavy offense, Williams has the upside to lead the entire league in end-zone targets, while his overall targets should be a lot more consistent with Joe Lombardi as the offensive coordinator in Los Angeles. As long as he can stay healthy, Williams projects as a strong WR2 with top-10 upside at the position.

Over the course of his rookie season, Josh Palmer operated as the No. 4 receiver in Los Angeles, logging just 38.2% of the snaps. Reports out of camp suggest that Palmer has passed Jalen Guyton on the depth chart, which gives him some upside in the later rounds of drafts. Palmer played in two games last season in which Allen or Williams were inactive. In those games, the rookie averaged 6.5 targets, five receptions, 54.5 receiving yards, one touchdown and 16.4 PPR points per game. That is obviously a very small sample size, but Palmer has shown flashes. If Allen or Williams miss any time, Palmer will present a ton of upside. 

The Chargers signed tight end Gerald Everett this offseason, who likely opens the season as the team’s starting tight end. Everett has always been incredibly talented but hasn’t seen consistent usage with the Rams or Seahawks. It is unlikely that happens in 2022, as Allen, Williams, Ekeler and Palmer will be seeing plenty of targets, while Donald Parham is having a great camp and has shown serious touchdown upside in this offense.

Previous NFL Quarterback Rankings 2022 Next 2022 Fantasy Football Auction Draft Strategy