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Sleepers, Busts and Bold Predictions: The 2023 Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Fantasy



Welcome to Sleepers, Busts and Bold Predictions for the 2023 fantasy football season. All summer, our analysts, two at a time, will preview all 32 NFL teams for the upcoming season. We’ll pick a pair of sleepers, a pair of busts and a pair of bold predictions. Sometimes they’ll be the same pick! Sometimes they will directly disagree! And that’s fine. Today: The Los Angeles Chargers.


Below, Dan Fornek and Daniel Kelley tackle the Chargers, starting with their picks in “The Answers,” then expanding on their picks in “The Explanation.”

2023 Sleepers, Busts & Bold Predictions: Los Angeles Chargers

The Answers

Favorite Sleeper

FornekGerald Everett
Kelley: Quentin Johnston

Biggest Bust

FornekMike Williams
Kelley: Mike Williams

Bold Prediction

FornekJustin Herbert wins the MVP (and finishes as QB1 in fantasy)
Kelley: Justin Herbert leads the league in passing yards

The Explanations


Fornek: Gerald Everett

Finding a late-round tight end that can provide adequate fantasy value is a cheat code that allows drafters to load up on other positions to maximize their scoring ability. Gerald Everett can be one of those tight ends for the 2023 NFL season.

Everett had a successful first season with the Chargers in 2022, finishing as the TE11 in PPR scoring (minimum 12 games) with 9.3 fantasy points per game. Everett played in 16 games on the season, catching 58 of 87 targets for 555 yards and four touchdowns. Everett was aided by injuries to fellow tight end Donald Parham (as well as wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams), but still earned a solid role in the offense. While all those players (plus Austin Ekeler) are back in the fold along with a first-round wide receiver, there is still a path to fantasy relevance for Everett in 2023.

The Chargers will likely be one of the pass-heaviest teams in the league with new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, an OC that has a history of featuring tight ends in the offense. During his four years with the Cowboys, the tight end position never had fewer than 83 targets. It is worth noting that those tight ends weren’t exactly dynamic receiving options but were more “catch and fall” options to move the chains.

Everett, on the other hand, has some ability to generate big plays after the catch. The veteran tight end had 5.6 yards after the catch in 2022, second amongst starters to only Austin Ekeler. And while the Chargers do feature plenty of target competition for the tight end, neither Keenan Allen nor Mike Williams is visions of health, which could move Everett up the target pecking order in a hurry.

The tight end position is routinely a mess outside of the top options, so securing a tight end with the ability to generate after the catch in a pass-first offense should be very appealing for fantasy managers.

Kelley: Quentin Johnston

Jalen Guyton has been with the Chargers for four seasons and was the team’s primary speed threat in 2020 and 2021 (and would have been in 2022 if not for his torn ACL). Why was that his role? Because this was the slowest collection of pass-catchers in the league the whole time. It wasn’t like he was good — his career yards per route run is only 0.98, only 0.94 before 2022’s 19 routes. 

Enter Quentin Johnston, who is nothing like Guyton-fast (Johnston’s 40 time at his pro day was 4.51; Guyton ran a 4.35 at his pro day in 2019). But he is now the biggest speed threat in this offense, and he should be far more efficient in that role than Guyton ever has been (Johnston’s career YPRR in college was 2.60, including 2.86 in 2022). Right now, Johnston’s 2023 fantasy ADP sits at WR42, basically bench depth, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes as a borderline flex and as the WR2 in the Chargers offense (see below for why).



Fornek: Mike Williams

Health issues reared their head once again for Mike Williams in 2022 as he played just 13 games thanks to a back injury. Williams still drew a healthy amount of targets on the season(93) but posted just 63 receptions for 895 yards and four touchdowns. The back injury seemingly lingered once the veteran receiver returned, leading to the worst yards per reception since his rookie season (14.2).

The Chargers were expected to add a speed element to their receiving room during the 2023 draft, but instead drafted Quentin Johnston out of TCU, a player who wins down the field in extremely similar ways to Mike Williams. While Johnston won’t supplant Williams to start the season, any injury should allow the rookie to see his role grow. At the very least, Johnston can eat into Williams’ role as a down-the-field, contested catch receiver.

Williams will have boom weeks, especially in the Chargers’ pass-heavy offense. But his tenuous health and the team’s wide range of receiving targets will make him hard to trust and the most likely to bust at his current WR29 price tag.

Kelley: Mike Williams

Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are entering their seventh season playing alongside one another, and in that time, Williams has bested Allen in yards per route run exactly once, when he had 1.97 to Allen’s 1.78 in 2021. And lest that be credit to Allen getting older, the elder receiver — even as he dealt with injury throughout 2022 — rebounded to 2.18 last year compared to Williams’ 1.93. Williams’ biggest virtue in the Chargers offense is as the best deep target on the roster, especially once Jalen Guyton got hurt last year. Well, that’s also the specialty of Chargers’ first-round pick in April’s draft, Quentin Johnston, whose average depth of target last year at TCU was 12.2 yards, comfortably the lowest of his college career (18.7 yards in 2021, 17.5 in 2020). 

In short, Williams is going to get middled. Allen is the more efficient receiver, Johnston is the more explosive one. He’ll still get targets, but I’ll take the under on the 7-8 targets a game he’s averaged the last two years. Don’t take him as a fantasy starter. 


Bold Predictions

Fornek: Justin Herbert wins the MVP (and finishes as QB1 in fantasy)

Justin Herbert burst onto the scene during his rookie season after being drafted behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa during the 2020 NFL draft. However, from a fantasy perspective, Herbert was disappointing during the 2022 NFL season.

Herbert finished as the QB14 in fantasy points per game (17.0) in 2022, throwing for just 25 touchdowns on 699 pass attempts after averaging 34.5 touchdown passes in his first two professional seasons. The veteran quarterback also had a career-low in yards per attempt (6.8) thanks to a rib injury that hindered his ability to push the ball down the field. But other reasons explain Herbert’s 2022 regression.

The Chargers’ offense suffered several injuries that impacted Herbert’s ability to deliver winning fantasy performances. Both Keenan Allen (10 games played) and Mike Williams (13 games) missed periods throughout the season. But the injury issues also hindered the ability of the offensive line. Only guards Matt Feiler and Zion Johnson played in every game of the season.

This team is healthy again heading into 2023 and has a new offensive coordinator that should open the offense to allow Herbert to attack vertically more than in the past seasons. Add in a return of Herbert’s rushing ability after a down in 2022 (he set career lows with 54 rushing attempts for 147 yards and zero touchdowns), and you have a player who could push for the MVP of the entire NFL. Even if he doesn’t hit those lofty expectations, there is a very realistic outcome to Herbert finishing as the QB1 in fantasy football in 2023.


Kelley: Justin Herbert Leads the League in Passing Yards

Maybe this only qualifies as a bold-ish prediction, since Justin Herbert finished second in the league in passing yards last year in what is generally considered to have been a big step back of a season for him. But while I don’t think Herbert is likely to run enough to be the overall QB1 in fantasy, his passing prowess might get him there. The knocks against Herbert last year were almost all things that should be repaired now — his injury, injuries to his offensive line, injuries to his pass-catchers (the Chargers certainly do Charger), a depressing offensive scheme. Now, Herbert is by all accounts healthy, the line is No. 6 in our offensive line rankings, Allen and Williams are healthy and Johnston is around for more depth and, maybe most importantly, Kellen Moore replaced Joe Lombardi as offensive coordinator.

Even with everything that went wrong for the Chargers last year, Herbert was second in the league with 4,739 yards despite no 900-yard receiver (and only Williams over 800). Give him Moore’s offensive scheme and even moderate injury luck (I’m ready to get hurt again, Chargers), and Herbert should coast to the league lead in passing yards. And if he uses his legs a little more than 2022 (he ran for 147 yards and no touchdowns last year after averaging 268 and 4 his first two seasons), and I’m not predicting an overall QB1 finish, but it’s on the table.

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