The Path to a WR1 Fantasy Football Season: Keenan Allen
Throughout his career, Keenan Allen has been one of the most reliable wide receivers in fantasy football. Since tearing his ACL in 2016 and missing almost an entire season, he’s had a very steady run, averaging over 16 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues. He’s also managed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in every season in which he’s played at least 15 games.
|Season||Games played||Receiving yards||
Fantasy points per game (PPR)
He is about to enter his 11th NFL season as a 30-year-old veteran, playing under a new offensive coordinator (Kellen Moore) who should bring some explosiveness and creativity to the Chargers’ offense. But this kind of change can also raise some doubts about how the team’s weapons will be used. After Moore’s arrival, there were some rumors about Keenan Allen being a potential cap casualty. But the team restructured his contract in March, clearing $8.9 million off the salary cap and erasing those rumors.
In this Path to a WR1 Fantasy Football Season series, we are analyzing wide receivers who are ranked outside of Andy, Mike, and Jason’s top-15 WR rankings, to evaluate if there’s a way for them to finish among the top-12. They currently have Keenan Allen ranked 16th, just outside the top-15, but he is ready to show the world why he deserves an invitation to the WR1 party.
2022 Season Recap
During the 2022 offseason, there was a lot of hype around the Chargers’ wide receivers. We were all very bullish on both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Some people even thought they could both finish inside the top-12. And it wasn’t a crazy thing to think. They were coming off a great 2021 season where they finished as WR10 and WR14. Sadly, they both finished the 2022 season outside the top-24.
At first glance, Keenan Allen’s 2022 numbers might look modest. But let’s keep in mind that almost everything he accomplished was during the second half of the season. He injured his hamstring in Week 1, missed five weeks, and came back in Week 7 just to aggravate his injury. It wasn’t until Week 11 that we saw him healthy on the field.
Before this past season, Allen had been a very healthy player, missing only four games between 2017 and 2021. In 2022, he missed a total of seven games, which destroyed his fantasy football finish, but he came back strong, becoming the WR4 in total fantasy points from weeks 11 to 18.
So what’s next for Keenan Allen? Is finishing as a WR1 in 2023 within his range of outcomes? Let’s find out!
Laying Down the Path
Sometimes it can be difficult to believe in the upside of older wide receivers. Especially today that ageism has taken over fantasy Twitter. Nobody wants to bet on WRs in their 30s for fear of being left holding the bag.
It’s also easy to forget how good a player’s fantasy production was the previous season when he missed some of it because the fantasy football community’s collective memory tends to focus on full-season numbers. So let’s dissect Keenan Allen’s performance to paint a clearer picture.
Whenever Keenan Allen is on the field, he commands targets. He had a 22.5% target share in 2022. His red zone looks were almost elite, earning 27.1% of the target share inside the 20 and finishing as the WR12 in red zone targets.
He might have finished last season with only 89 targets, but if we really want to measure his potential, we need to forget about the first half of the season and concentrate on when he was healthy.
His target share from Weeks 11 to 18 was 26.5%, becoming the second most targeted player in the league during that span!
Catch Rate and Receptions
As mentioned in other articles as well as in Kyle’s Path to a WR1 Series Primer, catch rate is not a very trustworthy indicator of what a player might do the following season. Having said that, Keenan Allen’s catch rate was pretty decent. He caught 74.1% of the passes Justin Herbert sent his way and since 72 of those targets were deemed catchable, his true catch rate was 91.7%, the 19th highest in the NFL.
Yards, Air Yards, & aDOT
There are some things to highlight and some to forget in the yards department. Keenan Allen totaled 752 receiving yards. That’s only five yards short of the 757 air yards traveled by all his intended targets. This means he compensated practically all the unrealized air yards from his missed targets by adding 270 yards after the catch. This also helped compensate for a not-so-exciting 8.5 aDOT.
But if excitement is what you want, Allen was the WR13 in yards per route run with 2.35 yards, which is his highest since the 2018 season. This shows us that despite his age, his efficiency hasn’t dropped.
Four touchdowns might not seem like a lot. But again, if we want to predict Keenan Allen’s production for 2023, we have to forget about the first half of the 2022 season. As you would imagine, all his TDs were scored from Weeks 11 to 18. Let’s extrapolate his production from those seven games to 16 (in case he misses one for some reason).
|Stats||Allen’s seven games in 2022||Extrapolated to 16 games||Five-year WR1 averages|
Boom! As you can see, almost all his key metrics surpass the average production from the past five years of WR1s. Touchdowns are practically there as well, just four decimals shy of the mark. But if Keenan Allen is able to stay on the field, touchdowns should come naturally.
Keenan Allen’s ADP has dropped to WR17 in 2023, due to age and the hamstring injury that stained his 2022 season. But despite being 30 years old, he is not a player that gets injured easily. Of course, no one is safe from a possible injury. It can happen to every single player who steps on a football field. But we shouldn’t consider that when laying down his path to a WR1 season.
What we should consider is that when Keenan Allen is healthy, his quality as a player is unquestionable. This makes his potential success pretty predictable: if he plays at least 16 games, he should be able to hit WR1 numbers. So what do you think? Are you ready to draft him at a discount?