Keenan Allen is All That
Julio Jones. Randall Cobb. Andre Johnson. Vincent Jackson. All four were surefire WR1’s coming into 2013. Fast forward to Week 7, where two are seriously injured (Jones, Cobb), and two are on teams currently starting their once-backup quarterbacks (Jackson, Johnson). Safe to say, many an owner is looking to reload at the wide receiver position. Enter Keenan Allen.
Allen has averaged 14.1 standard fantasy points per game over his last three contests, which is equal to or better than the season averages of all four of the supposed aforementioned WR1's. Since the Chargers lost wide receiver Malcom Floyd in Week 2, Allen has been trending steadily upward:
At numberFire, we like to look at a player’s net expected points (NEP) to see if his fantasy success is sustainable. Expected points measures each play and game situation based on how positively or negatively it contributes to a team’s scoring potential, and it often correlates strongly with fantasy points. Of all 78 wide receivers that have put cleats to grass this season and have at least 25 targets, Allen ranks seventh in reception NEP per target. He also boasts the fourth-highest catch rate (74.19%).
The reason you should be sold on Allen is because he presents that golden fantasy combination of talent plus opportunity. His talent was never in question, as the 6’2”, 210-pound receiver had over 2,000 receiving yards in his final two seasons in college at Cal. He fell to the third round of the 2013 NFL draft only due to injury concerns. As far as opportunity, he has the revived, third-ranked fantasy quarterback Philip Rivers tossing him the pigskin, and an energized offense led by head coach Mike McCoy.
Rivers' trust in Allen has grown rapidly, and this figures to continue. Remember, Allen is the only wide receiver on the roster drafted by this Mike McCoy regime. He also has the highest usage of all the Chargers' wide receivers since Week 3, the team's first game without Floyd.
Chargers Wide Receiver Usage Since Week 3
Once Rivers finds a go-to receiver with size, good things tend to happen. Recall 2012, when Rivers took Danario Alexander from unemployment to being a double-digit fantasy scorer. Considering Allen has exactly two more functional knees than Alexander, the upside is significant.
Allen isn’t a speedster (4.71 40-yard dash), yet he still owns a solid 14.4 yards-per-reception average. He wins at the line of scrimmage and makes tough catches in traffic. When you watch the tape, you notice he’s frequently open. And when he’s not, Rivers still has the confidence to throw in his direction.
We have Allen ranked 27th for the rest of the season. He’s a WR3 with top-20 upside if he shows he can consistently beat the additional coverage that's sure to start coming his way.