Fantasy Football Impact of Philip Rivers Joining Colts

How does Philip Rivers' fantasy football value change now that he's reportedly set to sign with the Indianapolis Colts?
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The 2020 season was a disastrous one for quarterback Philip Rivers. He threw 20 interceptions for just the third time in his career and finished with his lowest touchdown total (23) since 2007.

From a fantasy football perspective, he was the QB16 in total points last season, but that doesn't tell the whole story. On a per-game basis, he was all the way down at QB24. It's a far cry from where he usually sits (typically between QB12-15) as a reliable fallback option or steady backup to an injury-prone or high-risk, high-reward fantasy quarterback.

So what went wrong? Is Rivers done? Was it just a bad season? We'll likely have a better answer to that question a few weeks into the 2020 season, but here's what we know right now. Rivers, 38, is joining an indoor team with a better offensive line and better attendance, but doesn't quite have the same pass-catching talent as his former squad. Let's break that down further. 

The offensive line upgrade from Los Angeles to Indianapolis is massive. The Colts graded out as the third-best offensive line unit in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. The Chargers, on the other hand, graded out as the fourth-worst. Keeping Rivers upright will not only aid in keeping him healthy, it'll afford him more time to make uncontested throws from the pocket. The more clean pockets, the better chance a pass is completed, the better chance to gain fantasy points. It's simple math. 

Next, although some may view my previous mention of attendance as a flippant comment, it's not. Even though we can't accurately quantify the effect of playing home games in a stadium full of opposing fans, it does have some negative effect, both emotionally and in the ability to operate on offense. This won't be an issue in Indianapolis, which should have some small, but maybe significant effect on Rivers' play. 

As far as weapons go, the Colts are a bit of a downgrade from what the Chargers have put on the field the last couple seasons, but Indianapolis isn't devoid of talent. T.Y. Hilton is a legitimate No. 1 option that, if healthy, won't be too far off from Keenan Allen's production. 

The question becomes, can the Colts add enough supplementary pieces around Hilton and Rivers?

Parris Campbell isn't the same type of receiver and likely won't be as productive as Mike Williams. There are high hopes for Campbell heading into Year 2, but he's a couple years behind Williams. 

Jack Doyle is a great football player, but isn't nearly the same type of receiving threat Hunter Henry or Antonio Gates were. It seems very unlikely Indianapolis will re-sign Eric Ebron or address this position in the draft. 

The backfield combination of Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines is a downgrade from Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. However, I'd take a flyer on Hines as an RB4. I can see him having an expanded role given Mack's inability to be a true check-down option for Rivers.

I would not recommend drafting Rivers in a standard 12-team league with only one starting quarterback. He's a borderline Top 25 fantasy quarterback at this point that can be a matchup-based bye week fill-in as needed. Asking for anything more will prove to be disappointing. 

As for his weapons, Hilton will stay in WR2 territory. Health is a big concern, but he'll be a mid-to-high end WR2 with Rivers in the fold. Campbell is a high-upside WR5, while Doyle should flirt with the bottom of TE1 territory. 


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