Los Angeles Chargers Depth Chart and Fantasy Preview: Is Justin Herbert a Fantasy Starter?

What fantasy football options do the Los Angeles Chargers offer in 2024? Here’s a deep dive on a roster with plenty of roles in flux.

The Los Angeles Chargers fantasy preview is not short on moving pieces. Justin Herbert remains at the controls, but with a new coaching staff, a backfield makeover, and a receiving room that lacks clarity, fantasy football managers are searching for answers.

Who can you trust in 2024?

Los Angeles Chargers Fantasy Depth Chart

QB
Justin Herbert, Easton Stick, Max Duggan

RB
Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, Isaiah Spiller

WR1
Joshua Palmer, Cornelius Johnson, Jaylen Johnson

WR2
Quentin Johnston, Brenden Rice, Simi Fehoko

WR3
Ladd McConkey, Derius Davis, Jaelen Gill

TE
Will Dissly, Hayden Hurst, Donald Parham Jr.

Justin Herbert’s Fantasy Outlook

Herbert’s résumé by itself is impressive. He’s entering his age-26 season with one 5,000-yard season, two 30+ touchdown passing seasons, and three instances in which he ran for over 200 yards and at least three scores.

In theory, we should love him. But the shift in organizational focus is a buzzkill.

Gone are Herbert’s primary targets in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler. In is Jim Harbaugh and a run-centric approach that he brings from the collegiate level.

At the draft, the Chargers franchise elected to go with the high-pedigree tackle (Joe Alt out of Notre Dame) instead of a pass catcher to fill the void left by the departures this season.

Improving the offensive line, of course, isn’t a bad thing for Herbert’s stock, but time to throw is only valuable if two things happen:

  • The team wants to throw the ball.
  • There are players on the other side of those passes to produce.

For my money, Herbert is a top-12 talent at the quarterback position. However, “talent” is not a category that gets you fantasy points by itself.

Due to the depth of the position and the era in which we are in, Herbert sits outside of my top 15 heading into 2024, slotting in behind options like Kirk Cousins and Brock Purdy, whom I think Herbert is better than, but find themselves in better spots to produce.

Gus Edwards’ Fantasy Outlook

The Chargers might be a successful team this season, but I have a hard time thinking it’s because their offense achieved well over expectations. Gus Edwards has been in the league for six seasons, and he scored half of his career touchdowns during a massive 2023 with the Baltimore Ravens — production that was great if you had him last season — but is not something I’m weighing heavily when it comes to projecting forward.

Edwards was able to help fantasy teams last season because he was always in position to succeed and benefited from a creative offense. The Ravens were top six in both yards and points per game, frequently visiting the red zone and putting him in position to do what he does best — fall forward.

That’s a valuable skill set to have in the right spot. That “right spot” is an efficient offense with a gifted quarterback who can threaten defenses in unique ways where the level of focus paid to him is never too high.

That “right spot” is Baltimore. It’s not Los Angeles. Edwards averaged a career-low in yards per carry last season — even in that perfect situation — and has totaled 30 catches in his 69 career games.

If I’m going to poo-poo Herbert because of Harbaugh’s desire to pound the rock, I have to give the running game a volume bump, but that’s about the only thing keeping Edwards inside my top 30.

He should threaten the 210 touches he got last season, which puts him on the fringes of being a fantasy starter due to the lack of reliable competition for work behind him. Yet, the upside is as low as anyone in this tier.

J.K. Dobbins’ Fantasy Outlook

The J.K. Dobbins story could be one of the best in the sport if it works out. I’ll be rooting for it, but in terms of investing fantasy capital into him, you can’t even consider it until we get proof of health.

D’Andre Swift isn’t the definition of durability. We can agree on that, right? He’s never made it through an entire season and was truly featured for the first time last year after serving as a committee back in Detroit for three seasons.

Well, he and Dobbins were both second-round picks in 2020. Yet, Swift has 527 more career touches than his counterpart.

The laundry list of injuries is too much to overlook until we see Dobbins make it through an actual game. Even then, what is the touch upside? This fragile profile is not getting 15+ touches regardless of the situation, and that gives Dobbins next to no fantasy appeal, even if we like the talent.

Joshua Palmer’s Fantasy Outlook

Joshua Palmer is the favorite to break camp as Los Angeles’ WR1 to open the season, though he will have to earn that role early on if he wants to keep that label. He was productive in 2022 (72-769-3) as the Bolts dealt with injuries to Allen and Williams, taking advantage of an opportunity that could be there this season as well.

That said, what is the case to get Palmer inside the top 50 receivers? He only caught seven touchdown passes during his four collegiate seasons, and with nine scores on 143 professional catches, a big season in that department doesn’t project as likely.

Palmer did average 15.3 yards per catch in 2023, giving me enough hope to think that he is capable of stretching the field for what might otherwise be a very conservative offense. He’s a talented player in a WR room full of youth; my concern is that he’s the oldest of the group and the owner of the least draft capital among the primary options.

That’s not to say Palmer’s old (turns 25 in September), but if this franchise is going to focus on developing its receivers, he’s probably third on their priority list, and that caps his fantasy appeal in a significant way.

Quentin Johnston’s Fantasy Outlook

For plenty of people, hearing “Quentin Johnston” triggers flashbacks to drops and missed opportunities from an underwhelming rookie season. That’s fair, there’s no denying that the 2023 first-rounder was disappointing in his introduction to the league. Just remember that not all players thrive from the jump.

Quentin Johnston, Rookie Year

  • 215 pounds
  • 38 receptions
  • 431 receiving yards
  • 2 touchdowns

Davante Adams, Rookie Year

  • 215 pounds
  • 38 receptions
  • 446 receiving yards
  • 3 touchdowns

It should go without saying that I’m not projecting Johnston to be the next Adams simply because they had similar first-season stat lines. But the larger point is one that I’m sticking with — Johnston shouldn’t be written off.

As of right now, I have Johnston ranked third among these receivers, and that probably doesn’t change as we approach summer, barring some significant OTA (organized team activities) news.

That said, he’s on my radar. Johnston’s size is something you can’t teach, and as much as the missed opportunities hurt last season, he did put himself in favorable spots before putting the ball on the turf, which needs mentioning.

For those looking at Best Ball drafts, this is the type of player I speculate on late as a bet on his potential and Herbert’s talent. Johnston’s not a safe option by any means, but you’re not drafting a receiver this late to get Tyler Boyd-like stat lines (45 yards and a touchdown once a month). You’re throwing caution to the wind, and in that vein, Johnston has my interest.

Ladd McConkey’s Fantasy Outlook

If there’s going to be someone on this roster to step into the Keenan Allen role, the 34th overall pick in this past NFL Draft is the best bet. Ladd McConkey lacks Allen’s size, but he does uncover in a hurry and should be able to move the chains consistently from Day 1.

My hunch is that McConkey will be more valuable to the Chargers than to fantasy managers. His route running and vision already grade out as positives, giving him the traits of a high-floor PPR option who can provide Flex value in a pinch.

The ceiling is limited — McConkey is unlikely to rank higher than third on this team in terms of red zone or end-zone targets due to the size profile of those around him — but the floor projects as good enough to be rostered in all formats.

During three seasons at Georgia, McConkey averaged 14.2 yards per catch. While that would be nice to see at the professional level, I’m skeptical. He might have problems with physical corners and the iffy deep-ball film. Press coverage schemes could be common and prohibitive to his fantasy stock.

The profile isn’t perfect, but we chase opportunities early and ask questions later. McConkey will get his chance from the jump, and that’s enough to have my interest in the later rounds, given the lack of stability at the WR position on this roster.

Tight End Fantasy Outlook

It’s often said that “if you have two, you don’t have one” in the fantasy world. That is, similar depth for NFL teams can be advantageous, but for our purposes, a split role often tanks the role of multiple players who could be valuable if they had the role to themselves.

So what happens when you have three options?

With an unproven receiver room, I’d love to report optimism at the tight end position, but I can’t. I do think the position as a whole can be productive, so if you play in a league that rewards an entire position group, we can have a different conversation. Most leagues, however, do not function that way, thus leaving us with a bunch of nothing in Los Angeles.

These three tight ends have combined to play 16 professional seasons, and they have two 40+ catch campaigns on their cumulative résumés. None of them have assumed a voluminous role throughout their careers, and there’s no real reason to think that changes in 2024.

Donald Parham Jr. owns the imposing physical traits and has scored on 16.4% of his career receptions, making him the best bet for a usable week by way of the touchdown. Hayden Hurst is the only member of this group with a 350-yard season to his name, and Will Dissly is the most well-compensated TE on this roster.

It’s not difficult to make the case for any of these tight ends to lead the team in fantasy points. That tells you all you need to know — wait and see, don’t worry about pinning the tail on the Chargers TE at your draft.

As we look ahead to the 2024 fantasy football season, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.

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