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What You Need to Know:
- Rivers’ 7th-place fantasy finish last year marked his 5th straight top-11 campaign. Drew Brees is the only other QB to rank top 11 each of the past 5 seasons.
- Rivers is 36 now but has shown no signs of decline.
- The loss of Hunter Henry dings his ceiling a bit, but Rivers still has plenty of weapons at his disposal in Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Travis Benjamin, Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.
A consistent fantasy producer
Rivers continued his steady and reliable production in 2017, ranking 7th among QBs in fantasy points. It was his 5th straight top-11 finish and his 10th top-11 finish over the past 12 years. That’s consistency.
Rivers is 36 now but has shown no signs of slowing down. His 4,515 yards last season were the 4th most of his career. His 62.6% completion rate fell a bit below his previous career average of 64.4% but still tied for 15th league-wide. Rivers’ 7.9 yards per attempt tied for his 5th best mark and ranked 7th in the NFL.
He ranked 6th among QBs in Pro Football Focus’ 2017 passing grades, registering his best mark since 2014. Football Outsiders ranked Rivers 4th in their DVOA.
So by pretty much any metric, Rivers remains a top-tier passer. And he remains in a strong situation heading into 2018.
There’s continuity in scheme with the return of OC Ken Whisenhunt for the 3rd straight season and 4th overall with the Chargers. Rivers’ fantasy ranks under Whiz: 7th, 8th and 5th. He’s averaged 4,460 yards and 31 TDs in 3 seasons in Whisenhunt’s offense vs. 4,091 and 27.6 in his other 9 seasons.
Rivers also returns his top 4 WRs from a year ago. A healthy Keenan Allen exploded for a 102-1,393-6 line last season. He’s just entering his prime at 26. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin both bring big-play ability, averaging 16.5 and 15.4 yards per catch, respectively, for their careers.
Mike Williams is the x-factor in 2018. Last year’s 7th overall pick was nagged by back and knee injuries as a rookie, finishing with just 11 catches for 95 scoreless yards. But the 6’4, 220-pounder remains a potential impact player. He averaged 15.4 yards per catch and scored 18 times over his final 28 games at Clemson. If Williams can play like a 1st-round pick this year, he’d turn this from a good WR corps to a great one.
Rivers will need more from his WRs this season because the TE group has taken a significant hit. Hunter Henry was seemingly set to emerge as 1 of the elites at the position but will miss the entire 2018 campaign after tearing his ACL in a May OTA.
That leaves Virgil Green — who’s totaled just 71 catches across 7 seasons — atop the depth chart. We’ll see if the Chargers bring back Antonio Gates, but the fact that they cut ties with the 38-year-old in the first place tells you all you need to know about how much gas is left in his tank. The other still-available TEs are just as uninspiring: Coby Fleener, Julius Thomas and Brent Celek, among others.
Rivers at least has a pair of reliable pass-catching RBs to work with. Melvin Gordon has racked up 132 grabs on a 74.6% catch rate with 8.2 yards per catch over the past 3 seasons. And Austin Ekeler emerged as a weapon last year, posting 10.3 yards per catch and 3 scores on 27 receptions.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
Rivers’ 7th-place fantasy finish last season marked his 5th straight top-11 campaign. Drew Brees is the only other QB who has registered 5 straight top-11 seasons.
Rivers is 36 now but has shown no signs of decline. A hole at TE — following Hunter Henry’s season-ending torn ACL in May — lowers Rivers’ ceiling a bit. But he remains 1 of the safer bets at his position, especially considering you can often grab him in the double-digit rounds of drafts.