Philip Rivers Fantasy Football Value & Outlook 2020

Philip RiversOn March 17, the Indianapolis Colts agreed to a one-year contract with former Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers for $25 million. After 16 successful seasons in Southern California, Rivers rejoins his former quarterbacks’ coach and offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who is now the head coach in Indianapolis. After Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement, the Colts finished a disappointing 3rd in the AFC South with a 7-9 record with Jacoby Brissett starting the majority of the season.

2019 Recap

Pass YDsPass TDsINTsRush YDsRush TDsFF PTsFF PPG
4,6152320290235.515.1

It was a mixed bag of results in 2019 for Rivers, as his Chargers finished with a 5-11 record. He threw the second-most interceptions of his career (21 in 2016). He threw the fewest number of touchdowns he has in over a decade despite benefitting from elite offensive talent in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, Melvin Gordon, and Austin Ekeler. At age 38, it’s fair to wonder if Rivers has lost a step. However, the inconsistency in offensive scheme certainly did him no favors as Ken Wisenhunt was fired from his offensive coordinator position midseason.

2020 Projections

Pass YDsPass TDsINTsRush YDsRush TDsFF PTsFF PPG
4,4452914341275.217.2

Am I too optimistic about the potential for Rivers in 2020? Maybe, but the last time he played in Frank Reich’s system, he threw for 32, 31, and 29 touchdowns in three straight seasons. Thirty touchdowns may be a bit overzealous, but the Colts have some awesome red zone weapons even after losing Eric Ebron this spring. Moe Allie-Cox, Zach Pascal, and T.Y. Hilton should afford Rivers with plenty of options, and the team could look to add another receiver in this draft as well.

ADP/Auction Value

ADP: 13.10
Auction Price: $3

Part of the reason I’m so intrigued by Rivers this season is how cheap he will come in the draft. I have always been a supporter of the late-round quarterback strategy, and the new Colts QB will undoubtedly fit the bill as someone of interest this year. Rivers can be had well into your fantasy draft, and while your league mates are spending up on Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, you can build your running back and wide receiver depth. Rivers may not have the same upside as some QBs in this range, but as a safe weekly option, he should have good value this year.

Floor

It has to be mentioned that Rivers is going to turn 39 this season. We just saw Ben Roethlisberger miss the whole season with an injury, and Eli Manning recently retired, which doesn’t bode well for their draft classmate in Rivers. However, the NC State product has always been the most durable of the three – he hasn’t missed a game since becoming the Chargers’ starter in 2006, and other than an ACL tear in January 2008, he hasn’t suffered any significant injuries. The Colts’ celebrated offensive line should be able to keep him upright, as they only allowed 32 sacks in 2019. Rivers’ touchdown volume may be lower depending on how involved Marlon Mack is near the goalline, and depending on how successful the Colts’ defense is, his passing volume may be lower.

Ceiling

The NFL is transitioning toward dual-threat quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, and Kyler Murray. Rushing ability is a huge part of a quarterback’s fantasy football upside with the way scoring is formatted, and Rivers has rushed for over 100 yards in a season just once in his career. So while he might be a competent quarterback who helps the Colts win games this season, he won’t be a high-upside fantasy option with his lack of rush yards. Still, he should be pretty serviceable in 2020 and could be a valuable weekly starter.

Indianapolis Colts Offense

Indianpolis ColtsThe Colts were a middle-of-the-pack offense in 2019, ranking 16th in points scored and 25th in yards gained on offense. Their rushing attack has been impressive in recent years behind their powerful offensive line, and Marlon Mack produced a 1,091-yard season. Football Outsiders ranked the Colts as the 7th-best rushing offense in football last year, and that success should continue to keep the offensive approach balanced and the defense honest. T.Y. Hilton provides the attack with a formidable vertical threat, and Zach Pascal has developed into a reliable receiving option who can operate from the slot and outside the hashes. Jack Doyle might not have the upside of Hunter Henry, but he’s played in 15 or 16 games in all but one of his pro seasons. Rivers should have plenty of time to throw, as Jacoby Brissett’s 2.93 seconds per dropback ranked second among all passers in that category. This offense has plenty of weapons and is built for Rivers to succeed in 2020.

Strength of Schedule

Rivers should have plenty of opportunities to produce in his division – the Texans (4th), Jaguars (14th), and Titans (15th) all ranked within the top half of the league in fantasy points allowed per game to the quarterback position. Houston allowed the 4th-most passing yards per game in 2019, and the Titans weren’t far behind with the 7th-most allowed. The Jaguars figure to struggle against the pass in 2020 after losing A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey in the past year. Unfortunately for Rivers, the team’s schedule outside of the AFC South will not be as kind to him. The Colts will take on the Packers, Bears, Vikings, Steelers, and Ravens gave up less than 14 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position and were ranked in Football Outsider’s top-ten passing defenses. You will likely be able to find better options than Rivers on the waiver wire on the weeks he takes on those opponents, and his schedule will likely relegate him to little more than a solid streaming option. In-division matchups and games against the Lions, Browns, Raiders, and Jets will offer a reprieve and make Rivers pretty useful on some weeks.

2020 Fantasy Football Player Outlooks
  
There are few things I love more in this world than the sweet glory of fantasy football. It's a year round sport and championships are won and lost well before the draft. When I was 15 I put together my first fantasy league and I was hooked for life.

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