Justin Herbert was a revelation in his 2020 rookie season. After a team doctor punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung when trying to give him a pain killer before his Week 2 start against the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, Herbert was called into duty with minutes until kickoff. He led the Chargers to a 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter and they ended up losing in overtime. But there is no doubt that game was a sign of things to come. Will he be able to take another step forward in 2021?
To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.
Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.
The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.
No. 63: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers, QB
Herbert was fearless in his rookie season, throwing for 289 yards and 2.1 touchdowns per game while also rushing for five touchdowns. His big arm and presence amid a relentless pass rush were impossible to overlook. He has all the makings of a top quarterback for years to come and the Chargers just gave him a lot of help on the offensive line this off season.
Competition for touches
The good news is that the Chargers running game isn’t going to be outstanding, as their best back is also a great receiver. There is a new head coach and offensive coordinator in town, but the personnel begs for them to throw the ball, including near the goal line. Herbert should be the key to a huge percentage of the team’s scoring.
Team offensive expectations
Expectations should be high, but with a new coaching staff and a second-year quarterback, there are still questions. Last season the offense was average, but showed signs of high-upside. Herbert will have a year of NFL under his belt and a full offseason and training camp as the starter. Add in an improved offensive line and it will be tough for the offense not to improve at least a little.
What’s his upside?
Herbert’s upside is great. He’s shown he can hit the big play with some consistency and with a healthy Ekeler back, the super-consistent Keenan Allen, and deep threats in Mike Williams and Jaylen Guyton, he’ll have great targets at each level. Add in his nose for rushing touchdowns, and he has Top-5 potential this year.
What’s his downside?
After a blazing start to his career, there is always the chance Herbert regresses somewhat. Sophomore slumps have a name for a reason. Losing Pep Hamilton and learning a new system could slow down his progress. Thankfully, an upgrade at the offensive line should be a huge key in helping him see a big regression, but he’s still not a lock to reach his upside in his second season.
420/650, 4,900 passing yards, 45 touchdowns, 13 interceptions