QB - LAC
Herbert did an amazing job last year as a rookie learning the Chargers offense in a pandemic. He'll have to learn another one this year. Anthony Lynn is gone. Brandon Staley is the new head coach and his offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi, comes over from the Saints. Expect a lot of short quick passes and a power running game. Herbert has the goods and the line is improved. Despite the challenge of learning a new offense, Herbert should still do well in 2021.
Herbert truly shocked the world last year with his breakout performance. After being criticized by many NFL Draft pundits - myself included - he rose all the way to a QB9 finish. Despite having a shortened off-season and not preparing as if he was going to be the starter, Herbert helped bring people to fantasy titles in 2020. In 2021, there's a bit of a shake-up with Brandon Staley coming in at Head Coach and Joe Lombardi as the new Offensive Coordinator. Typically, there's a setback for young QBs who see an early change in offensive coordinators, etc. around them and it's enough of a track record to at least be cautious with Herbert. However, he's defied the odds before and his supporting cast should do enough to keep him in the top-10 conversation. It's something to keep in mind when you're about to pull the trigger on Herbert in the middle rounds of your draft, but it shouldn't completely scare you away from him. He's an incredibly talented QB whose arrow is only pointing up.
What Herbert did in 2020 was miraculous. There's no two ways about it. To be handed the starting job just one hour before the game in Week 2, then go on to break the rookie record for passing touchdowns (31) is ridiculous. Now, with that being said, he still finished as the QB9 last year while throwing 595 pass attempts, the fourth most in the legaue. Now that he's got a defensive-minded head coach and a healthy defense, we could see the pass attempts dip a bit in 2021, which would certainly hurt his appeal. The Chargers did increase the talent on the offensive line, but also replaced Hunter Henry with Jared Cook, which is a certainly a downgrade. Herbert should still be a solid low-end QB1, but it's tough to see him finishing as a top-five option in 2021.
Justin Herbert set a rookie record for passing TDs (31), threw just ten picks, and crossed 4.3K yards on his way to Rookie of the Year honors. A new coaching staff, including a new OC, should be careful not to screw up a good thing. The new OC is Joe Lombardi, former QB coach of the Saints. Learning under Sean Payton and Drew Brees, expectations are high for Herbert and company. The expectations are a more "up-tempo" offense built around Herbert's strengths. Drafting Rashawn Slater goes a long way to helping improve an offensive line that struggled. With (8) 300-yard games, Herbert had some big days in 2020, but he also had some rookie moments. Suppose you draft Herbert, bid on a similar season to 2020, not necessarily upside for more. He's not as safe as some veterans like Russell Wilson, nor do I think he has the upside in startup dynasty leagues like Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow. But the 23-year-old QB was impressive enough year one to consider him a QB1 in 2021.
After bursting on the scene his rookie season, Herbert is going to get his second playbook in as many seasons, but if we are judging future schemes based on coaching trees, that may end up being a good thing. Joe Lombardi was been the Saints QB coach for the last 5 seasons, working with Drew Brees and Sean Payton, and is the grandson of the guy they named the Super Bowl trophy after. Now, with an offense designed just for him, the talent that was clear last season might shine even brighter. He is still surrounded by incredible talent and an improved OLine as well.
Line improvements are HUGE. I like the Saints QB Coach as OC too - should be slinging.
Herbert had 342.8 fantasy points in his rookie year on a team that started (3-9) before winning their last four games. The sky is the limit for him and he should be an elite QB1 in his second season with a team that should be on the upswing.
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