Fantasy Football: Initial projection for Chargers WR Josh Palmer in 2021

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The Chargers brought in another weapon for quarterback Justin Herbert with the selection of former Tennessee wide receiver Josh Palmer in the third-round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Palmer will be joining a crowded wideout group that features Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, but he still presents excellent value in his rookie season, enough that he’s worth taking in your fantasy football leagues.

ESPN’s Mike Clay reacted to the first three rounds from a fantasy football perspective, where he made some initial projections and analysis for all skill players that were taken.

For Palmer, Clay’s initial projection sees him receive 37 targets for 23 receptions, 274 yards, two touchdowns in 2021.

He’s not a threat to Keenan Allen or Mike Williams in the short term, but could overtake Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson for No. 3 duties very quickly. That would make him a fantasy sleeper considering how good Justin Herbert looked as a rookie. Palmer will be a fine later flier in deeper leagues.

When you look at Palmer’s stat sheet from college, it’s easy to be swayed away from him as a potential target, as he failed to surpass 34 targets and 500 yards.

The reality is that the numbers don’t do the justice to reflect the type of player he is and can be at the next level.

Palmer never produced eye-popping production at Tennessee due to the fact that he played alongside two current NFL wide receivers for two seasons and the team’s ongoing quarterback problems.

Palmer, the 6-foot-1 and 210 pounder, ran mostly vertical routes in the Vol’s offense and rarely got targeted because of it. On top of that, 31% of his targets were uncatchable.

However, when he was targeted with a catchable ball, he shined against some elite college corners, including Jaycee Horn, Patrick Surtain II, Tyson Campbell, Eric Stokes and Kelvin Joseph.

Palmer was 14-of-14 in catching the “catchable balls” in those matchups, 11 of which went for first downs, four touchdowns, and 16 yards per reception, according to Pro Football Focus.

At the Senior Bowl, defensive backs had no answer for Palmer, defeating them with violent route-running and the speed to create separation. His 81% win rate was the highest of any outside receiver.

Now on a team with a competent quarterback in Herbert, Palmer should definitely be more productive in the NFL than he was in college.

In Year 1, he will be in the mix for snaps with Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson. But given the fact that offensive coordinator Joe Lombard goes through a lot of different personnel packages, Palmer will have his opportunities.

With his ability to separate at all levels of the field, especially vertically, Palmer could quickly become one of Herbert’s go-to targets this upcoming season and beyond.

The bottom line is take Palmer in the later rounds of your upcoming drafts and you could have yourself a diamond in the rough.