Draft or Pass: Target Philip Rivers as a Dirt Cheap, No-Risk Fantasy Backup QB

Philip Rivers is on a new team, yet given his consistency over the years, why is his average draft position so low? SI Fantasy expert Ben Heisler breaks down the value of the new Colts signal-caller.
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It's never too early to start your fantasy football research, and we here at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best information possible heading into your drafts. Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?

Today's video focuses on Indianapolis Colts QB Philip Rivers.

Philip Rivers Draft or Pass at current ADP (average draft position): 150 (QB22)

Headed to a new team for the first time in his 15-year potential Hall of Fame career, Colts QB Philip Rivers may not be at home, but he’ll sure feel like it.

He’ll be reunited with Colts head coach Frank Reich, whose offense helped guide Rivers to nearly 9.100 yards and 60 touchdowns from 2014-2015.

Technically, it’s the third time he’s moved locations after the Chargers moved north from San Diego to Los Angeles, but the fact remains that this is a fresh start for Rivers to upgrade at key areas compared to what he had with the Chargers.

According to Pro Football Focus, heading into last year, whenever Rivers had more than 3.1 seconds to throw, he ranked fourth in yards per attempt, ninth in big-time throws, and fourth in adjusted completion percentage.

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Rivers had the fifth-lowest amount of time to throw in the NFL last year, averaging 2.63 seconds. This led to more turnovers (20 interceptions), more sacks (34), and his lowest yards/attempt number since 2016.

But even in a down year for Rivers, he still finished third in pass completions, seventh in pass attempts, fourth in passing yards. He still finished Top-15 in touchdown passes (23), which was his lowest total in six seasons before that.

Phillip B. Wilson of AllColts recently discussed how Rivers' 2019 season might cause concern for fantasy owners, given his new situation. Still, the overall body of work suggests he’s on pace to clear the Vegas over/under on touchdown passes this year (27.5).

If looking at the 38-year-old passer's previous year with the LA Chargers, fantasy owners might be inclined to take the under because Rivers had just 23 TD passes and 20 interceptions.

But look at his six seasons before that. Rivers had 28 or more TD passes each year. In 14 seasons as a full-time starter, he had 28 or more nine times.

In a 12-team PPR league, Rivers' current ADP of 150 (QB22) lands him as a late-round draftable backup pick. I think that's a mistake considering Rivers' desire to take deep shots down the field and incorporate running backs into the passing game for extended chunk plays and even more touchdowns. The Colts also have a favorable strength of schedule for Rivers, including a very friendly fantasy playoff schedule against the Raiders and Texans in Weeks 14 and 15.

Rivers always seems to be counted out as a starting QB in fantasy but has finished no worse than QB15 since 2013. Armed with multiple offensive weapons and an elite offensive line, I'll happily draft Rivers ahead of his current ADP.

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