Owning Chargers WR Tyron Johnson in fantasy leagues could pay dividends

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Fantasy football drafts are still months away, but many are doing early homework on players in hopes of constructing a championship caliber roster.

The Chargers have a couple intriguing options in quarterback Justin Herbert, running back Austin Ekeler and wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but WR Tyron Johnson could be a sneaky option to store away.

After not playing in his first season, Johnson, the undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State, established himself as a reliable pass-catching option behind Williams and Allen in Year 2.

In 12 games, Johnson amassed 20 receptions for 398 yards (19.9 yards per reception) and three touchdowns, with zero drops. Four of his first five receptions in the NFL went for 50 yards or more.

When Herbert threw the ball to Johnson, he yielded a 156.7 passer rating, just a hair shy of a perfect mark, according to Pro Football Focus.

Heading into the 2021 season, Johnson will be a part of a position group that returns Jalen Guyton, who had 28 catches for 511 yards and three scores last year, along with the addition of Josh Palmer, the team’s third-round selection.

Johnson has the leg up on Guyton because his hands are more superior and he’s a better route-runner and he simply has more experience than Palmer. Therefore, that could lead to extended playing time.

The bottom line is that Johnson has the opportunity to become one of Herbert’s top targets this season because he has earned his trust and he does well in both the intermediate and deep parts of the field, where the signal-caller is pinpoint precise.

In a way, Johnson reminds me of former Saints’ Brandin Cooks, who offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi spent a few seasons with. Johnson and Cooks are solid route runners, they have speed to take the top off a defense and they have reliable hands.

Will Johnson be used in a similar fashion? Only time will tell, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Lombardi attempts to utilize him in that same way.

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