Can Keenan Allen be a Productive Fantasy Football 2020 Target Hog With Tyrod Taylor? - Roto Street Journal
Player Stock Ticker
For the Best Breaking Fantasy Football News, Bookmark our Fantasy Stock Watch now: rotostreetjournal.com/stockwatch    

Can Keenan Allen be a Productive Fantasy Football 2020 Target Hog With Tyrod Taylor?

Keenan Allen is one of my favorite players in all of fantasy football.

In 2017, I bought the dip in Allen’s “injury-prone” stock, and he has more than returned on my investment. With that being said, the Allen I acquired in 2017 is not the same fantasy football asset that’s about to enter the 2020 season.

Keenan Allen has caught 524 passes in his impressive 86 game NFL career, all from the steady arm of Philip Rivers. With River’s departure to the Colts, Anthony Lynn has handed the reins over to Rivers’ former backup, Tyrod Taylor.  The stark differences between the two quarterback’s styles have led most fantasy analysts to significantly lower projections for the Charger’s WR1.

With Allen currently going as the WR22 in half PPR leagues, fantasy owners must ask themselves these questions:

Are Allen’s best fantasy days behind him? Or is he still a target hog WR1 that can be drafted at a discount?

Let’s take a look at the factors that are going to drive Keenan Allen’s 2020 fantasy football value moving forward:

TYROD TAYLOR

Tyrod Taylor is the glorified stopgap taking over for the departed Rivers.  If he was a type of music, he would be elevator music. Bland, extremely similar regardless of where it plays across the country, and an effective way to get yourself through a tough 12 seconds (or games).

The former 6th round pick was a three-year starter in Buffalo from 2015-2017.  While he held a respectable 22-20 record as a member of Bills Mafia, Tyrod was detrimental to his wide receivers’ fantasy value.  Taylor only supported one 1,000 yard receiver in his three seasons in Buffalo, which was was the last time Sammy Watkins was relevant. Watkins was able to beat cornerbacks deep to cross the 1,000-yard plateau, while Allen relies on precise route-running and heavy volume to be an elite wideout. For the following three years, no other receiver in Buffalo topped 650 yards during Tyrod’s tenure. 

JUSTIN HERBERT

We must also take into consideration the exceedingly likely scenario that this year’s sixth overall pick, Justin Herbert, takes over the starting role by mid-season. If things go how I anticipate they will this season for the Chargers, it will be more a question of when Herbert takes the reigns, rather than if he eventually starts.

Herbert is a much more exciting option at quarterback than Taylor, but is widely considered to be a high-upside prospect that needs time to adjust at the next level.  He possesses more arm talent and undoubtedly is more willing to let the ball fly around, but I don’t necessarily think his coaching staff is going to let him do that in year one.

If/when the Chargers turn to Herbert, I expect the former Duck to respond similarly to some of the recent young quarterbacks like Sam Darnold and Drew Lock.  They showed flashes of great potential while trying to lead dumpster fire offenses, but they didn’t exactly light up the fantasy scoreboard.

OFFENSIVE SCHEME

Arguably the factor that will most affect Keenan Allen’s fantasy football value in 2020 is the anticipated changes in the offensive scheme.  

Coach Anthony Lynn arrived in San Diego in 2017. 

His simple message upon arrival? “Curb the turnovers.” He is a conservative offensive coach by nature and prefers dual-threat quarterbacks. He coached Taylor in Buffalo, and the two seem to be a match made in X’s and O’s heaven. Lynn wants his QB to limit turnovers and utilize his legs to open up the short/mid-level passing game, which suits Taylor’s strengths.

The Chargers also let Melvin Gordon walk after his failed public holdout, and instead, opted to pay shifty scatback Austin Ekeler.  Ekeler fits Lynn’s system perfectly, as he is a multidimensional RB who can be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. Lynn’s ideal offense is all about versatility. His M.O. is limiting mistakes, and utilizing the run game both from the QB and RB positions. Ekeler’s glove-like fit for this offense is one of the main reasons I am so bullish on him this year.  High floor, high upside pass-catching back with little competition in his one-dimensional offense.  I view him as a poor man’s CMC. Not the talent or pedigree of Muscles McCaffrey, but a very similar type of player and situation.

Last season, Allen received the sixth most targets in the league with 149. In Tyrod’s brief starting stint in Cleveland, he showed his willingness to hyper-target his best chain-moving receiver.  In this case, Jarvis Landry received 27 targets in the 2.5 games with Taylor at the helm. This 2.5 game split left Landry with 13 receptions, 188 yards, and 0 touchdowns.  Obviously this is far from a large sample size, but Landry’s 170+ target pace through this time period is a good sign for Allen owners hoping his large target volume stays steady.  

I expect Allen’s volume to remain heavy in the passing game around 150 targets, but the quality of these targets to substantially decrease.  

SURROUNDING TALENT

The Chargers are entering the 2020 season with an alarmingly thin depth chart at WR.  Behind Allen and Mike Williams, the Chargers depth chart consists of household names like Andre Patton, Joe ReedKJ Hill, and Jason Moore. While Moore may be named after my favorite member of the Fantasy Footballers, he and the other WRs mentioned alongside him boast little NFL experience. Reed and Hill were both productive in college, but are viewed as late-round rookie draft picks.

What do all of these names that you have never heard before mean? It means that the Chargers have no legitimate established WR depth to count on.

The Chargers will have to rely heavily on their top pass catchers, and I expect the passing offense to be heavily funneled through Allen, Ekeler, Hunter Henry, and Williams. So while I expect the offense to lack explosiveness and upside in 2020, I do expect Allen to maintain his large share of the target pie.

BOTTOM LINE

Keenan Allen is an elite WR talent in the NFL, however, his quarterback situation has significantly downgraded.  If you draft Allen, know what you are drafting: a talented, high volume, precision route-runner, whose QB situation and offensive game plan will likely frustrate you on a week-to-week basis.

As much as it pains me to say it, I’ve decided to “take my profits” in my Keenan Allen stock.  Allen could be a safe value pick in full PPR drafts as a WR2, but his upside has taken a massive hit.

Outside of full PPR leagues, there are too many higher upside WR options to pass up at this stage of the draft. Opt for one of the sophomore receivers oozing with upside, such as AJ Brown, Terry McLaurin, or DK Metcalf

On the other hand, The Wolf has Allen as his WR16, a solid six spots higher against the ECR, on his 2020 fantasy football rankings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.