The Los Angeles Chargers’ offense suffered a sizable blow late in the Week 3 win over the Vikings, as star wideout Mike Williams went down for the season with what is now confirmed to be a torn ACL. Should fantasy football managers make Joshua Palmer a priority waiver wire add ahead of Week 4?
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Should Joshua Palmer Be a Fantasy Waiver Wire Add in Week 4?
Williams seemed firmly on his way to potential career-best numbers, serving as an even more potent weapon in new coordinator Kellen Moore’s offense than the big wideout already was during his previous six seasons in Los Angeles.
Falling just short of playing three full games under Moore’s stewardship of the offense, Williams had already seen 26 targets. The absence of Austin Ekeler for the last two contests very likely played a part in the bump in volume, but like fellow wideout Keenan Allen, Williams appeared poised for his best fantasy season yet.
Enter Palmer, who parlayed a combined 11 regular-season absences on the part of Allen and Williams last season into a solid 72-769-3 line off 107 targets. Useful as those numbers were — especially in full-PPR formats — there’s actually reason to believe Palmer could have even more upside this season.
To begin with, if he holds the No. 2 job the rest of the way and talented but still developing first-round rookie Quentin Johnston remains in a No. 3 role, Palmer will have a longer cumulative starting stint than a year ago.
And, with the extra snaps and targets such a circumstance would bring about, the third-year wideout would have ample opportunity to improve on his 2022 numbers in what looks like a markedly more aggressive air attack under Moore.
That’s been the word on the former Cowboys coordinator since he made a lateral move further west this offseason. Moore was hand-picked to replace the much more conservative Joe Lombardi, who Herbert still put up 699 pass attempts under last season.
Word since OTAs is that Moore was implementing a scheme with plenty of opportunity for explosive plays.
Therefore, reading too much into the 7.2 yards per target Palmer averaged over his first two seasons — or the even more modest 6.4 he’s logged over the first three games of 2023 — would be a mistake in terms of assessing his fantasy potential moving forward.
Contrary to what those numbers indicate, Palmer isn’t devoid of speed or downfield prowess. The Tennessee product averaged 15.7 yards per reception over his final three college seasons. And, although it’s just a one-game sample, Palmer then averaged 9.7 yards per target Sunday vs. Minnesota while getting his first taste of filling a starting role in Moore’s offense.
Palmer finished with 66 yards and a touchdown on four catches across 39 snaps against the Vikes. Once he begins seeing 50+ snaps running the route trees in Moore’s system, it’s easy to envision a notable increase in per-catch production.
Allen, who’s been mostly pigeonholed as a PPR darling for many years because of all the high-percentage throws close to the line of scrimmage he typically draws, is averaging a career-high 10.3 yards per target during his brief time in Moore’s system.
Meanwhile, Herbert is completing a career-best 74.4% of his passes, has yet to toss an INT in 121 pass attempts, and is on pace to throw for over 5,300 yards if he plays all 17 games.
The preceding makes for a long — and heavily annotated — way of confirming that based on what we know heading into Week 4, Palmer should be given ample opportunity to shine as a starter, filling more of a high-upside real-world/fantasy role than in the prior offense.
Moreover, even if Johnston does eventually overtake him on the depth chart — a possibility, but naturally no sure proposition — Palmer has proven adept in a No. 3 role that could hold even more value in Moore’s offense, and he already has well-established chemistry with Herbert to boot.
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Consequently, investing a waiver wire addition on Palmer — even for those fantasy managers who aren’t trying to replace Williams directly — is a smart route to take.
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