Chargers receiver Keenan Allen put up video game numbers in the second half of last season. For LA to be successful in 2018, he’ll have to dominate again.
Trying to pinpoint “breakout” or “dark horse” teams is a classic offseason exercise. The Los Angeles Chargers have arguably been the team that’s received this designation the most.
Philip Rivers is a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Melvin Gordon is one of the most dynamic young backs in the game. They arguably have the league’s most terrifying pass-rushing tandem in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
But if the Chargers are going to reach their full potential in 2018, wide receiver Keenan Allen is going to have to be big-time.
Los Angeles doesn’t have a healthy, proven pass-catching tight end on the roster right now. Hunter Henry tore the ACL in his right knee on the first day of OTAs in May. Rumors have circulated about the Chargers’ interest in signing franchise legend Antonio Gates, but no deal has materialized yet.
Blocking tight end Virgil Green remains on the roster, but he’s never had more than 22 receptions in a season. The relatively unheard-of Braedon Bowman and Sean Culkin are the only other two tight ends on the roster.
That’s where Allen comes in. He’s the guy that makes their offense go. He’s Rivers’ security blanket and primary third down target. In the Chargers’ 3-6 start to 2017, Allen averaged 4.9 catches for 66.2 yards per game. Then, in their 6-1 finish, he averaged 8.3 catches for 113.9 yards per game. The team is clearly at its best when Allen is terrorizing opposing defenses.
Now, with a question mark at the tight end position, the Chargers need Allen to eat up even more targets. ESPN’s Eric Williams reports that the Chargers will rely on Allen even more than in the past on third downs and in the red zone.
One thing’s for certain: Allen’s fantasy owners will LOVE his increased workload.