16 Oct Justin Herbert – Fantasy Dark Horse
Justin Herbert is defying the odds as a rookie signal caller, and he is also defying his scouting report with rapid improvement from his weaknesses in college. While Herbert does have a bye this week, it could not have come at a better time for the Chargers as well as your fantasy team.
Herbert has had one of the hottest four-game stretches for a rookie, but his numbers also stack up league-wide. At the moment Herbert ranks fifth in passing yards per game (298.8), fifth in yards per completion (12.3), ninth in QBR(107.1), and ninth in touchdowns (9). Not only is Herbert posting big numbers, he is doing so against solid competition as he has already faced two top 10 passing defenses.
Herbert has an offense littered with explosive threats ranging from the elite Keenan Allen to field-stretcher Mike Williams. A healthy Hunter Henry is invaluable and they have a solid tandem of back up running backs in Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson. Herbert has never had weapons like the aforementioned players.
Combine that with his favorable schedule and vast improvement versus pressure and you have yourself a dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year and a vital add if still available.
Keenan Allen is an established player who wins in a multitude of ways – the proverbial quarterback’s best friend. Allen has shown an elite mastery of the route tree, but Philips Rivers’ declining arm strength and turnovers were starting to hamper the offense as a whole, not just Allen and Mike Williams.
Last season the Chargers running backs saw over 150 targets because of Rivers’ propensity to target them, but with a live-armed vertical passer at the helm and Austin Ekeler injured, Allen, Williams, and Hunter Henry ought to be the immediate benefactors of those vacated targets.
Justin Herbert and Allen had already demonstrated a deadly connection throughout the first three games. Henry possesses the skillset to be a premier TE but health has been a problem for him. Beyond that big three the Chargers have gotten solid contributions from back-up receivers Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson.
The Chargers will be on bye to heal up after Allen left last week’s game with back spasms, Williams also took some major punishment shouldering the load afterwards.
Coming off of the bye, the Chargers could not ask for a better matchup as they will be facing the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are currently the 30th ranked defense in yards allowed at 418 yards per game. The Chargers’ next four opponents following the Jags are the Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins, and Jets.
These teams rank in the bottom half of the league in passing yards allowed, surrendering over 365 yards per game. The Chargers also have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league. The only problem is they share it with division rivals in Las Vegas and Kansas City.
If Ekeler can return in the proper timeline this team could sneak into a wild card spot. They have had back-to-back nail biters against playoff contenders in the Bucs and Saints, so the bye will allow them to iron out those small errors and take on the Jaguars at full strength barring anything unforeseen.
Herbert was lauded as a big-armed passer who had problems versus pressure and making plays off-script . Through four games he is the antithesis of the Herbert we saw in college and NFL teams will need to take adjustments accordingly. Herbert is facing pressure on dropbacks twice as frequently as he did in college and still ranks in the top five for completion percentage under pressure, as well as completed yards under pressure .
Arguably the best throw of the season was made by Herbert with pressure coming down on him yet he threw a bomb to Guyton for a 72-yard touchdown. Herbert has gotten better each week and faced a dogged Saints defense that was able to achieve a season-high 14 pressures on him, yet still posted a Monday Night Football rookie record four touchdowns.
The arrow is trending up for Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense. The four teams they have faced so far presented Herbert with a lot of different looks and scenarios, and he has performed well in spite of the challenge and bad offensive line play. Herbert has shown an ability to be able to extend plays and consistently deliver strikes outside of the numbers.
He avoided the blitz on several occasions and showed a fearlessness to exploit man coverage with Mike Williams despite being shadowed by Marshon Lattimore in Week 5. Herbert’s growth and rapport with his offensive weapons has been practically seamless.
With the schedule lightening up for the Chargers and players getting healthy, do not be surprised to see this team get on a roll after those close performances.
A Journalism major, Trevon was born and raised in Duval county, making his football alliances conveniently adjacent as a Jags and Gators fan.
His passion is scouting college athletes and projecting them to the pros, and Trevon hopes to one day be a team scout, beat writer, or analyst.