Chargers’ Stevie Johnson to IR, Ladarius’ headaches a concern

At first glance, the Chargers decision to end Stevie Johnson’s 2016 season after knee surgery doesn’t appear to carry much fantasy football weight. Although he scored a touchdown in the first two games of the 2015 season, Johnson ranked WR-62 after missing six games last year.

However, owners should pay attention to the trickle down impact. Philip Rivers has attempted the fifth-most passes over the past three seasons. His 67.3 completion percentage ranks only behind Drew Brees for tops in the league during that stretch. So, his remaining targets are going to eat well. That begins with Keenan Allen whose current ADP is WR-10 and the second round in PPR leagues. Despite missing five games last season, Antonio Gates is going to drag his body out there for a 14th campaign. He saw seven-to-eight targets per game when active in 2015. This doesn’t ignore Danny Woodhead who led the team in receiving last year with 755 yards. After that trio, some new blood and old blood join the fray … 

James Jones was inked after Johnson went down. At 31 years old, he managed to post solid numbers for the Packers the first half of the 2015 season before feast or famine fantasy production when it mattered most. Still, don’t knock the idea that Rivers and Jones could connect in the same manner Aaron Rodgers found Jones. Remember, fifth-most pass attempts and second-best completion percentage. Inman, Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are wild cards in my mind. Benjamin’s 11th-round ADP is due to his production with the Browns a season ago. The Chargers may intend to use Benjamin in the same capacity as Malcom Floyd, but to gamble on Benjamin repeating 2015’s stats is too risky. For every consistent in Keenan Allen production, there are take-a-flier on a Charger, Seyi Ajirotutu-approved performances.

Scary news out of Steelers’ camp on Thursday with reports that tight end Ladarius Green is dealing with headaches and not recovering from ankle surgery. The former Chargers tight end signed with the Steelers in the offseason and was in line to replace Heath Miller as Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to tight end. For context, from 2012-2015 Miller ranked TE-8 in targets. Because of Roethlisberger’s lust for targeting the tight end when Antonio Brown is triple covered, Green’s fantasy stock was on the rise in recent months (ADP TE-10). Green suffered two concussions last September and has experienced three in the past year. If he can’t get back on the field, Jesse James becomes the de facto TE-1 in Pittsburgh and Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates average draft position will see significant bumps over the next three weeks.

Note: lingering effects of concussions is why fantasy owners in love with Jordan Reed need to be aware of his head trauma history.

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