With the starting gig in Week 3 and possibly for good, Justin Herbert is now a viable waiver wire add in fantasy football.
At the proverbial last minute, with Tyrod Taylor dealing with chest pains, Justin Herbert made his NFL debut against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. He looked the part, completing 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also had 18 rushing yards and a score on the ground, on his way to 23.24 fantasy points (Yahoo! scoring).
Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has remained committed to Taylor as the starter, with the caveat of when’s he’s 100 percent healthy. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Wednesday morning that Herbert would likely start Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers. Then, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported what exactly Taylor is dealing with.
As if the Chargers medical staff is to be trusted after puncturing his lung, they have apparently advised Taylor not to play “indefinitely.”
In Week 3 the Chargers will take on the Carolina Panthers, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks through two weeks. But they are also in the bottom-10 in pass attempts against (32.5 per game), as a residual of being the worst fantasy defense against running backs thus far. In short, the Panthers do not have a good defense.
Herbert was on the radar as a speculative waiver wire add in fantasy when the week started, and now on Wednesday he’s a certified solid roster add with the starting job his until further notice. Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints look like possible pass-heavy game scripts for the Chargers, then a soft stretch is coming from Week 6-Week 9 (New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders).
A comp I’ve consistently landed on for Herbert is Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. As a rookie in 2018 Allen started 11 games and played in 12, with an elbow injury that cost him four games as a symmetrical split point. In his first six starts (Week 2-6, with an early exit in Week 6), he was QB27 in fantasy. He returned in Week 12, and from there to Week 17 (six starts), he was QB1 in fantasy. Allen topped 95 rushing yards in four of those final six starts (over 100 yards twice).
The Chargers offense looked different with Herbert under center in Week 2, and he has talent around him (Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry). While his raw rushing numbers weren’t great at Oregon, owing in part to sacks being taken off a quarterback’s rushing yardage, Herbert is mobile and he scored 13 rushing touchdowns in college.
Herbert’s ownership rates will start to spike now. But as of Wednesday afternoon, he is only owned in 12 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 6.8 percent of ESPN leagues. He’s a locked-in top-end quarterback streamer for Week 3 now, and in two-quarterback leagues the rookie signal caller is a must-add this week. He might be a must-add in every fantasy league looking toward Week 4.