In what quite possibly was the worst-kept secret in the NFL, Philip Rivers is joining the Indianapolis Colts. It was a natural fit with connections dating back to his days in San Diego where head coach Frank Reich was his positional coach and playcaller, and Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni was a quarterbacks coach.
There is so much to like about the situation. Rivers has arguably the best offensive line in the league now. It ranked 11th in pass protection and second in run blocking last year, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Marlon Mack is among the most dynamic rushers in the NFL, and fellow running back Nyheim Hines offers a dangerous weapon out of the backfield. Playing in a dome never hurts the stats, either.
Indianapolis has T.Y. Hilton as one of the league’s most dynamic receivers, and second-year wideout Parris Campbell stands to be much better with a year under his belt. He faced great adversity in 2019 as a rookie, which tends to make players mature faster. Tight end Jack Doyle is far from elite but has serviceable traits in the checkdown game as well as around the stripe. Expect another receiver to be signed, drafted or landed via trade. The offense needs someone with reliable hands over the middle of the field who can challenge for clutch grabs on third downs.
Rivers is 38 years old and lacked a little mustard on his fastball last season. He knows the window is closing quickly, which can tend to create extra pressure. Indianapolis is in a rather capable defensive division, and there’s no guarantee Rivers will have strong chemistry with Hilton.
Fantasy football outlook
Rivers is entering the riskiest fantasy season of his career since becoming the starter. Interestingly, though, there really wasn’t a clearly better situation for him. Tampa Bay would have been close, but the line isn’t quite as good, and there’s no obvious running game to rely on. Throwing it 50 times again isn’t how Rivers will maximize his fantasy football returns. At 38, with a questionable arm, no one wants to see him sling it that much anyway.
The problem that haunted him at times was being forced to do too much for a 2019 Los Angeles Chargers team that was out of sorts all season thanks to poor line play, injuries, and the ramifications of a Melvin Gordon hold out. In fact, doing too much has been a consistent theme when things haven’t gone well for Rivers over his 16 years in the NFL. As with most of his career, fantasy footballers will be resigned to accepting the bad with the good when drafting the vet. Rivers will light it up some weeks and toss multiple picks the next.
We know he’s tough as nails, and Rivers still played at a high enough level in 2019 to get the job done. Never underestimate his competitiveness. Unless Indianapolis lands a can’t-miss rookie receiver or coaxes a proven veteran into the mix, Rivers remains a better reserve passer in conventional fake leagues. He will offer starting utility with the right matchups and can maintain last year’s No. 13 overall fantasy quarterback value by staving off Father Time one more season.