San Diego Chargers
2014 Record: 9-7, missed playoffs, 2-3 in last five
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1st: 11th in DVOA* overall offense (7th pass, 25th rush) | 25th in DVOA* overall defense (25th pass, 15th run)
2nd: The Chargers have one of the anomalies from Football Outsiders’ defense vs. receiver types chart. They rank just 13th-most effective against No. 1 wide receivers, but their yards allowed to the receiver type was third-lowest in the NFL. FO admits that for fantasy purposes, looking at yards allowed per position is a better play, that’s especially true in this case. Otherwise the Chargers are pretty ineffective against other receiver types. They are 26th in the league against both WR2s (6.6 pass attempts per game, 52.7 yards allowed per game) and slot/bench receivers (6.3, 52.7) and 27th in the league against pass-catching RBs (6.3, 37.9)
3rd: Key loss: RB Ryan Mathews | Key addition: RB Melvin Gordon
4th: There are two really massive questions and answers for the Chargers this season: 1) Will Melvin Gordon live up to the hype? 2) Can the secondary improve to an average level? The answers are absolutely and yes. Gordon is the top RB in the class. Some people are calling him a bigger Jamaal Charles. If he can give the Chargers offense some balance it lacked last season, Gordon could be the key to a very exciting season in San Diego. Not that last season wasn’t exciting. They tumbled in December, but you remember when QB Philip Rivers threw two or more touchdowns in seven of the teams first eight games. The Chargers started 5-1, then won three in a row after the bye to improve to 8-4. They just couldn’t keep it together. Keenan Allen should bounce back after a severe sophomore slump. The arrival of WR Stevie Johnson should help Allen and the receiver corps. Losing Antonio Gates for four games to a substance abuse suspension seems bad, but it gives hype-train Ladarius Green an opportunity to flash skills and, potentially, win the starting job. The return of defensive back Jason Verrett from injury and Brandon Flowers’ re-signing along with Eric Weddle, who should have his contract issues figured out by opening day, still leading the way, the secondary should improve considerably from its 25th-place ranking from last season.
*Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, a Football Outsiders’ advanced NFL metric, measures a team’s performance on a per-play basis. The metric attempts to limit variance and provides a more realistic measurement of how good a team is regardless of matchup or situation, making it a strong indicator of future success. Read more about DVOA.