The Chargers have been in the news for fantasy football and it's not for good reasons. They lost Danario Alexander to a torn ACL while fellow receiver Malcom Floyd suffered a knee sprain on Monday. What's more, Keenan Allen also suffered a more mild knee sprain, so they're far more interesting to watch on Thursday night.
The loss of one starting receiver has some drastic effects, but the loss of both can be catastrophic for the San Diego offense, so they will definitely need Floyd back in short order. Without him, the team not having a receiver taller than 6'2" really limits their play-calling options. This is really worrisome news to Philip Rivers. If he can't throw fade routes to his X and Z receivers on the outside, the Chargers are likely to be more inclined to run the ball than they normally would. Plus, not having a larger receiver to target on third downs could hurt his conversion percentage. Interestingly, the Chargers had a receiver in the top five among NFL receivers for each season from 2008-12, so the lack of height would be a big loss. He becomes a fairly low-end QB2 in most leagues.
Antonio Gates and Ryan Mathews figure to see bigger roles sans Floyd. Gates being the only respectable option in the red zone suggests that he will be targeted in the end zone more, which obviously could lead to more scores. As for Mathews, the team will have to lean him him more to create offense. Danny Woodhead could also be an interesting option as a pass-catching back, but it'll be tough for him to exceed his production in the highly-efficient Patriots O from last year.
Moving to receiver, it's a wide-open competition. Rookie Keenan Allen probably deserves to be the first receiver off the board in fantasy and he'll be worth watching as long as he suits up. The other receivers have really squandered their opportunities, so the mystery and unknown ceiling of Allen as a playmaker make him a desirable target late in drafts. Vincent Brown broke his leg last year and miss the season, but he's show some skills as a deep threat and figures to be Rivers' field stretcher on the outside. Eddie Royal could be a slot guy and used in the mold of Wes Welker, but he doesn't possess the skills to get open. Lastly, Robert Meachem was a disaster last year and it would take a little slice of crazy to draft him.
The Bears are hardly as interesting as the Chargers. Head coach Marc Trestman figures to inject some new life into the Bears O, though. Obviously, Brandon Marshall can do no wrong and he should either be the second, third or fourth receiver off the board along with Dez Bryant and A.J. Green in PPR -- personally, I have him second. Matt Forte is also a player that should have a big year. He has some ankle issues, so those that draft him may want to grab Michael Bush in 12-team leagues and beyond.
Jay Cutler is in a contract year and is one of the best bench QBs to have. Another player without slam-dunk value is Alshon Jeffery. The pass-first Trestman can help him, so he'll be a decent player to target with WR3 upside. Although, he would need Brandon Marshall to be out of the lineup to really have a true breakout year. It should be a fun game on Thursday.