Try Me A Rivers
Updated: Feb 18, 2021
Fantasy football is an interesting beast. So often, fantasy players of all different skill levels are bit by the pesky recency bias bug, which unfortunately leads to blind spots when making crucial roster decisions that can have significant impacts on our success. However, I urge you all to HEAR ME OUT: Philip Rivers has a REAL shot to be a top 12 quarterback this year in fantasy.
Before we unpack that take, let's ask the age old question "What have you done for me lately?" In 2019, Rivers provided nothing more than a gut-wrenching rollercoaster ride with more downs than ups. Anyone who decided to wait til the later rounds to draft a quarterback or used Rivers as a streaming option was more often disappointed in his rocky performance. For years, Rivers has been a relatively consistent field general for fantasy owners that they could typically spend less draft capital on while boosting other positions on their rosters. Last season was a different story.
First off, Rivers was an interception machine last year. With 20 interceptions on the season, he almost threw as many picks as he had touchdowns (23). Just a quick look at his fantasy points in each game is a scary sight: 23.92, 10.92, 19.62, 20.4, 4.14, 14.8, 21.16, 10.04, 11.76, 10.28, 12.12, 16.6, 24.56, 8.28, 11.16, 15.74. In fantasy, a game in which consistency is most desired, Philip Rivers was anything but - you were only happy with about 5 of his starts throughout the entirety of the season. That is obviously not good enough to help support a winning fantasy team. Especially with the level of consistency and high point totals of some other names you could have gotten later in your drafts last year (Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, etc.).
With Rivers another year older, you may wonder why I'm so high on him this year. The answer is simple: His situation is vastly improved. As a member of the Indianapolis Colts, his opportunity to achieve great statistics for fantasy owners is exactly where fantasy owners need to place their attention.
In Los Angeles, Rivers was not getting the protection against the pass rush that he needed in order to do what he has done exceedingly well for the better part of his career - carve up secondaries and move the ball up and down the field. Enter the 2020 season, he has exchanged his powder blues and lightning bolt for a royal blue and horse shoe - a sign of luck to come. In Indy, Rivers will be met with one of the best offensive line units in the league. Not to mention, the skill players on offense bear a striking resemblance to his weapons in Los Angeles. A great running back room, speedy WRs paired with some big body/go-up-and-get-it pass catchers, and solid tight end play - all things that will support a great fantasy season for Rivers.
The offensive line will buy Rivers the time he needs to work his magic and limit his interceptions that plagued his 2019 season. He has a deep running back room that just added the highly touted Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin (who finished as the #6 RB in NCAA history in total yards - yeah, he's good.). The Colts also drafted WR Michael Pittman of USC, a talented big receiver that will pair nicely with T.Y. Hilton. Rivers has always made great use of his tight ends, and he'll have his choice of several talented guys in Jack Doyle, Trey Burton, and Mo Alie-Cox. I LOVE his chances of putting up big numbers in Indy this season, even as he turns 39 years old in December.
Here are a couple of numbers to consider for fantasy:
Rivers has the 11th ranked strength of schedule for QBs this season.
Rivers is currently being drafted as the #23 consensus QB in fantasy drafts at the moment.
Waiting for QB in your drafts and taking Philip Rivers very late can prove to be a great strategy for fantasy players that want to build depth at positions that require multiple starters (RB/WR). If I'm right and Rivers finishes as a top 12 QB this year, you will have an absolute steal at QB that you can get at the same time that you're drafting your kicker and defense.