Finally healthy, playing a full 16-game season for the first time in his five-year career, Keenan Allen proved to be a top-end wide receiver in fantasy football last season finishing as WR3 in half PPR leagues.
It’s not wise to completely avoid a player in fantasy football based solely on injury history, but it’s hard to ignore Allen’s – especially if you’ve been burned by him in the past. However, for how hard it is to predict fantasy football success on a year-by-year basis, predicting injuries is even harder, so it may be time to put your feelings aside if you were scarred as an owner of Allen in the past.
Let’s take a look at the sixth-year pro out of California.
Those who took a chance on Allen in 2017 were drafting a player who was far from a sure thing as there were plenty of question marks that came along with him. After playing in just eight games in 2015, Allen was injured in the season opener in 2016 so his outlook heading into last year was a bit cloudy given his injury history.
Allen closed out last offseason with an average draft position of 3.09, the 13th-ranked receiver in the league. Despite finishing the season with just six touchdowns, Allen turned into a steal setting career highs in targets (159), receptions (102) and yards (1,393). His 14.2 fantasy points per game were fourth-best of all receivers, finishing with 227 total fantasy points.
Last season, Allen scored double-digit fantasy points eight times including a four-game stretch – weeks 11 through 14 – when he averaged 24.6 points per game. That particular four-game stretch paid off nicely for fantasy owners as those are key weeks where battles for post-season positions and actual playoff matchups begin.
Allen’s 159 targets were also good enough for fifth in the NFL as his increased volume, due to finally being healthy, translated into fantasy points solidifying him as a WR1 in 2017.
As long as Allen can stay healthy there’s no reason he shouldn’t once again finish as a WR1. However, with a current average draft position of 2.08, you’re likely banking on him being the receiver to lead your fantasy squad.
If he can duplicate last season’s productions, you’re in good hands, but keep in mind Allen has appeared in just 54 of a possible 80 career games.
Playing for the Chargers, Allen is on a team that has a projected top-eight running back and tight end in Melvin Gordon and Hunter Henry, respectively. The positive aspect of this is that those players will make it so opposing team’s defenses can’t focus solely on taking away Allen. The negative is the fact that Gordon and Henry will likely be the team’s top threats in the redzone, so Allen’s touchdown total may once again be lower than your typical WR1.
Allen’s primary competition for targets from the wide receiver position will come from Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and last year’s first-round pick, Mike Williams. While it’s safe to assume the latter Williams will see an increased workload with a healthy offseason, his current ADP is just 14.07 as the 63rd-ranked wide receiver. With that being said, Allen should once again dominate the targets and majority of production from the outside.
Another benefit to drafting Allen in 2018? Division opponents Denver and Kansas City lost arguably their best cornerbacks this offseason, Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, respectively; resulting in a total of four games he’ll be able to avoid these talented corners. In the four games against these two last season, Allen failed to top 65 receiving yards and scored just one touchdown.
Chemistry with quarterback Philip Rivers is something Allen has always had, and his ability to create separation due to his exceptional route running hasn’t wavered despite the injuries. The combination of playing with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback and being one of the top route runners in the league will go a long ways in ensuring another successful season as Rivers loves taking chances with his arm and route running is becoming more and more important with the evolution of bigger, faster, more physical corners.
After being a little hesitant on Allen in 2017, I feel comfortable saying that you can rely on him to lead your fantasy squad’s wide receiver unit.
An ideal draft scenario involving Allen would be selecting a top-tier running back in the first round and being able to grab Allen in the back half of the second round.
He’s currently my WR8 with a ceiling of once again finishing in the top three and a floor of being a mid-level WR2. Draft Allen with confidence this year – but maybe say a prayer or two to the Fantasy Gods for back-to-back healthy seasons to be on the safe side.
Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys talk over/under NFL win totals for each team in the AFC.