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Camp Battles
By Mike Beacom

Camp Battles: Chargers WRs – Floyd vs. Meachem vs. Brown

By Mike Beacom

There is a sort of panic surrounding the Chargers passing game. Everyone agrees Philip Rivers threw far too many interceptions last year, and his 27 touchdowns were the fewest he had thrown since the 2007 season. The loss of Vincent Jackson has only intensified fears that San Diego’s once-feared aerial attack is on the decline.

Don’t panic. The Chargers remain one of the AFC’s best passing teams, and Rivers remains one of the league’s best quarterbacks. And while San Diego may not fully replace Jackson’s production, it will fill his spot with someone able to satisfy the expectations of fantasy owners. But who? Longtime No. 2 Malcom Floyd? Emerging second-year prospect Vincent Brown? Top offseason pickup Robert Meachem?

Why Floyd is the best choice: The soon-to-be 31-year-old Floyd collected more yards last season than any other returning San Diego receiver (Jackson led the team). Floyd’s frame (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) makes him a favorable target in the red zone, and he has been productive as a downfield receiver during his time in the league; in fact, he’s averaged 19 or more yards per catch in each of the past two seasons. In 2011, he posted four games with 100 or more yards receiving, and the year before he had a 213-yard game against Oakland. Perhaps most important, Floyd has spent more time with Rivers than Meachem or Brown. That chemistry could finally help Floyd become a No. 1 receiver.

Why it’s Meachem: The Chargers gave Meachem $25.9 million ($14 million guaranteed) within a day of losing Jackson. One might assume that suggests the team intends to replace Jackson with Meachem. In New Orleans, Meachem was one of many. He caught between 40-50 balls in each of the past three seasons, despite having to compete with Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and a fleet of pass-catching backs. Some believe he is the most well-rounded receiver of the three vying for San Diego’s No. 1 job. He has good size, speed, and the ability to cover most of the patterns in his route tree.

Why it’s Brown: Did you watch the first preseason game? Floyd was invisible and Meachem was on the sideline; Brown was superb (four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown). As a rookie last season, Brown only caught 19 passes, but more than half (nine) went for 20-plus yards. But before people label him as a big-play receiver they must be reminded that he caught 60 or more balls twice while at San Diego State (2008, 2010). Brown is not coming off an injury like Meachem, and he’s not near the end of his career like Floyd – he is the future.

Don’t forget about: Eddie Royal
The Chargers’ new slot receiver once caught 91 balls for Denver (2008). Of course, since that season Royal was bounced around the Broncos offense, and his situation got even worse in 2011 under John Fox. Royal has a shot at a fresh start in San Diego. On a team filled with big-play targets, he could snag a lot of balls underneath.

Who fantasy owners should pull for: Meachem

All of the talk is Meachem and Floyd. Brown has barely gotten a fair shake at one of the starting jobs, let alone the No. 1 role. And while Brown could be the future, fantasy owners want the now.

Meachem can be a possession receiver and goal line target, and whereas Floyd works the deep sideline routes best, Meachem can also stretch the middle of the field. None of these players will replace Jackson, but Meachem gives Rivers (and fantasy owners) the best alternative right now.

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