Fantasy Football Impact: Philip Rivers Signs With Indianapolis Colts
Move over, Jacoby Brissett, there is a new QB1 in town, and he is, of course, 35-year old Philip Rivers. Coming off his second worst season in terms of QB rating over the course of his 14 years as a starter, Rivers will be called upon to run an offense that features such weapons as T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle and Zach Pasca. General Manager Chris Ballard was dealt a terrible hand when he learned that Andrew Luck would retire from professional prior to the 2019 season.
The team could have easily pulled the plug on Brissett following a MCL injury in Week 9 last year that limited him to just 3.0 yards per carry in the second half of the season but they stuck with him. Clearly, he was not in the long-term plans, which may have been the reason they chanced further injury with their starting quarterback (QB).
How Rivers will fit in Indianapolis remains to be seen but the offensive line protecting him is a drastic upgrade to the one Rivers suffered behind last year. Pro Football Focus graded the Chargers’ offensive line as 29th in the league and it was the fifth consecutive season in which Rivers played behind a line that graded 26th or worse in terms of pass protection. The Colts ran pure last year in terms of line health as all five starters played over 1,000 snaps, and while that is unlikely to continue, the unit is a clear upgrade from what Rivers is used to.
Despite the talented receiving core Rivers was working with last year, especially once Hunter Henry returned to the mix, Rivers averaged a three-year low 7.8 yards per attempt (YPA) and posted a career-worst 1.15 TD:INT ratio. Additionally, it is not like Rivers dominated when the pocket remained clear, as he posted just a 96.8 QB rating when he was not under pressure. Amongst QBs who played at least 20-percent of their team’s respective dropbacks, only nine posted a worse QB rating in the split: Dwayne Haskins, David Blough, Andy Dalton, Baker Mayfield, Devlin Hodges, Kyle Allen, Mitchell Trubisky, Josh Allen and Kyler Murray (ARI). In other words, Rivers will need to improve upon his play from last year for the offensive line upgrade to matter.
Hilton becomes his top target in the passing game coming off a year where he averaged just 4.5 receptions (RECs) per game, nearly a career-low 6.8 targets per game and a career-low 50.1 receiving yards per game. At just 5’10”, 183 lbs., it is no wonder the under-sized Hilton has started to deal with more frequent injury concerns as his career has gone on, as he has missed a combined eight games over the course of his last two seasons (after missing just two games in his first six years combined). Whereas Keenan Allen possessed the skill set of a true number one receiver, no such thing exists in the Colts passing game as of now.
Marlon Mack is coming off a 1,000-plus yard season so he should at least bring balance to the offense. Only four teams averaged fewer rushing yards per game last year than the Chargers and only six teams averaged more rushing yards per game than the Colts in 2019. The balance should lead to Rivers attempting fewer than the 591 passes (second most of his career) from a year ago.
Combine all these factors and it is easy to see why Rivers is not worthy of fantasy consideration in shallow leagues. Rivers does not run much either as evident by the fact that he has rushed for 97 yards over the course of his last 80 games. Fully reliant on his arm in a less-than-perfect scenario for him at 36-years old leaves him outside the top 25 QBs in RotoExperts rankings and, barring acquiring multiple elite pass-catchers, he can be safely ignored in most one QB formats.