The Chargers might have found their franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert. Going #6 overall behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tugovialoa, Herbert won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2020 by throwing for over 4,000 yards and a new rookie record 31 touchdowns. What was more impressive was the fact that he wasn’t supposed to play this year at all. Originally the plan was to have Tyrod Taylor play as the starter and have Herbert sit the year to learn the offense. But after one of the team’s doctors punctured Taylor’s lungs, Herbert was thrust into the starter position, and the Chargers never looked back. The future looks bright for the Chargers as Herbert will look to continue to build off his excellent rookie outing.
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Herbert had the first start to remember as he threw for 311 yards and 1 touchdown against the defending champion Kansas City Cheifs. The most interesting part about that game was that Herbert was told he was going to start 20 minutes before the game. Herbert was consistent throughout the season as his only real down game was when he played against the evil empire New England Patriots. In that game, Bill Belicheck does what he does against all rookie quarterbacks and tricked the promising star into throwing for only 209 yards and 2 interceptions with no touchdowns. But that was just one game, and after he cut off his luscious golden locks in between Weeks 10 and 11, Herbert ended his rookie campaign by throwing for 1,637 yards and 9 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Herbert might have a sophomore slump this upcoming season, but it is more likely that he will be competing for league MVP.
Before & After “The Haircut”
Justin Herbert decided the flow had to go.
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) November 18, 2020
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Justin Herbert is only getting warmed up. Herbert had questions about his arm strength and accuracy coming out of Oregon, but he shattered those questions and made draft experts and opposing defenses look foolish last season. In the new expanded 17 game schedule, Herbert should perform at the high level he showed last season and put up MVP-like numbers this season. People should get used to hearing the name Justin Herbert because he will perform on Sundays thanks to his talent and the Chargers upgrading the offensive line. Expect a big year from Herbert and for the Chargers to be in the AFC playoff hunt.
ADP & Auction Value
ADP: 55, QB7, Rounds 4-5
Auction Value: $17
People in the fantasy football world are hyping Justin Herbert up, and for a good reason. Herbert is projected to be the 5th to 7th QB taken around the same time as fantasy titans like Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, and Aaron Rodgers. Herbert will never be taken before fantasy superstars like Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, and Patrick Mahomes because of the Charger’s offensive philosophy and Herbert’s lack of rushing production, but he is good enough to belong in the second category of great fantasy football quarterbacks.
The sophomore slump is real and has derailed the path of many quarterbacks throughout NFL history. Take a look at the stats of quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield and Dak Prescott before and after their second season as starting quarterback, and you can quantify the sophomore slump. Herbert also likes the throw the deep ball. While he is really accurate with it, the volume at which he throws it means he is susceptible to more interceptions. The Chargers also have a new offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi, which could slow Herbert’s production at the beginning of the season. With all that said, Herbert’s rock bottom situation is him falling to the production of a QB2 in a 12 person league.
Herbert could put himself in the rare deified tier of elite quarterbacks if he shows out this season. Herbert showed he could do it all last season. He can throw it short, middle, long, left, right, outside, inside, sidearm, over defenders, under duress, in tight windows, on the run, with touch, with accuracy, and with velocity. He also isn’t a statue in the pocket and can run for a first down if he needs to. Herbert has also never suffered any serious injuries, and honestly, the sky is the limit for him. Don’t be surprised if Herbert makes the leap to become the top QB of this fantasy football season.
Los Angeles Chargers Offense
The Chargers know the only way to beat the Chiefs is to try and outscore them, and that’s exactly how the Chargers approached this offseason. They know they have the stud quarterback. All they need to do is get the right pieces around him. Thanks to Herbert being on his rookie contract, the Chargers were able to splurge and surround him with better protection and better weapons than in his first year. The Chargers drafted top tackle Rashawn Slater to anchor the line along with free-agent signing All-Pro center Corey Linsley. The Chargers also added veteran TE Jared Cook and drafted WR Josh Palmer to go alongside the dangerous combo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
Strength of Schedule
The Chargers have the 17th hardest strength of schedule for the 2021 season. Their division is tough because they have to play the Super Bowl contending Kansas City Chiefs twice as well as spunky and difficult-to-beat teams in the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders. The Chargers get a mix of every play style this season. They get to play grit and grind teams like the Patriots, Ravens, Giants, and Washington Football Team. They also have to play air raid bombs away pass-happy offenses like Bengals, Cowboys, and Steelers. They also have to play balanced attacking offenses like the Vikings and Browns. The Chargers only have 2 realistic games where they should win no matter the context when they play the Texans and Eagles. Those 2 games are really important and are a must-win if they want to make the playoffs. Every game is important, but the other games that they should win if they want to make the playoffs are their games against teams that they would be competing for the wild card with, like the Patriots, Ravens, Browns, and Raiders.
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