During the 2018 season, I got more complaints about Philip Rivers than any other player. Consistently, people thought I had him ranked too low. And on the surface, that was understandable, with Rivers having thrown multiple touchdown passes in his first 12 games – there was even some buzz that he should be considered a candidate to be the league’s Most Valuable Player.

But now that we’ve got the benefit of hindsight, I’m thinking that I should have instead ranked Rivers even lower most weeks. For fantasy purposes, he was more of a serviceable option than a standout.

The Chargers had a nice collection of pass catchers, with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams leading the way, but they also ran a balanced offense in a lot of games. In 10 of his 16 games, Rivers passed for fewer than 260 yards (which in 2018 was more of a middle-of-the-pack figure).

Rivers is also an immobile pocket passer, and most fantasy scoring systems are stacked against such players. When you run for about 10 yards per game, that’s like picking up an extra 20 passing yards per week. And when a quarterback runs for 2 TDs, it’s like throwing an extra 3 TDs. Rivers doesn’t get any of that bonus production.

When you total up all the numbers and look at per-game production, Rivers ranked only 17th among quarterbacks last year. In none of the last eight years, in fact, has he ranked higher than 8th in average fantasy value per game. That’s using standard scoring.

Rivers gets more appealing if rushing production is set aside. Rather than 17th, he ranked 10th in passing production last year. That’s using per-game figures and assuming 4 for TD passes and 1 for every 20 passing yards.

Using standard scoring, Rivers has been a modest fantasy quarterback in recent years. Using standard scoring (and per-game grading) he’s ranked 13th, 13th, 8th, 9th and 17th the last five years. If we look just at passing in the same seasons, he’s finished 9th, 7th, 6th, 5th and 10th the last five years.


Rivers plays 16 games every year. That’s worth something. He’s got the nice group of receivers around him. But with the role rushing production plays in our little game, I might be more inclined in 2019 to role with a lesser passer who’s a dramatic better scrambler, like Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson. Those guys aren’t as good as Rivers, but they might be a lot more valuable in fantasy leagues.

—Ian Allan