The Colts getting a quarterback via free agency is new to me but they pried Philip Rivers away from the Los Angeles Chargers. As a life-long Colts fan (40-years), the last time I saw Indy reach into the free agency pool was 1994 when the signed Jim Harbaugh. Four years later, Peyton Manning was drafted then Andrew Luck in 2012. While the unexpected retirement of Luck, Jacoby Brissett came over from trade to New England (2017) for Phillip Dorsett. What did they have to spend, and what does it mean for fantasy football in 2020?
Philip Rivers’ Contract
Rivers is a first-time free agent after spending 16-seasons with the Chargers. He came to San Diego when the Chargers decided to trade Eli Manning to the New York Giants during the 2004 NFL Draft. Rivers was also the quarterback that the organization tied their franchise around after releasing Drew Brees after the 2005 season.
Even though Rivers never got past the AFC Conference Championship, he did lead them to five playoff appearances. Along with his pedigree, he brings 8x Pro-Bowl selection and 2013 AP and PFWA Comeback player of the Year. A deep-ball weapon with a cannon arm, Rivers will bring to the Colts his 59,271 passing yards, 397 passing touchdowns, and 198 interceptions.
Rivers signed a one-year deal worth $25 million, ending long-time speculation that he would end up with his former quarterback coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Frank Reich. Sirianni is now the Colts offensive coordinator hired by Reich when he was named head coach in 2018.
Philip Rivers on the Indianapolis Colts
Rivers is 38-years old, and at times looks like he wasn’t tossing a football but a bowling ball instead. The aging signal-caller will now battle the 2019 starter Brissett if the Colts choose to keep him, but with Brissett carrying a $21.3 million price tag, they are unlikely to retain his services.
Rivers at the helm opens up the Colts’ offense. He will push the ball downfield and utilize like star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and the speedy Parris Campbell. Rivers should perform better than last year, as he will finally get the protection he never had as a Charger and some new toys. Jack Doyle’s fantasy football stock should rise as Rivers will need to dump-off passes as he is a statue with minimal mobility in the pocket.
Unfortunately, Indy will need to address Rivers’ interceptions. Brissett threw only six all season whereas Rivers was giving it away like free candy (20), third-worst in the league. However, his touchdowns should offset this. Brissett struggled to throw the team into the end zone. The Colts reached paydirt through the air only 18 times, while Rivers’ 23 passing scores were about NFL average.
Marlon Mack will see a slight decrease in yardage. If the Colts have their way, he will have less ground to rumble as Rivers deep ball will eat most of it. His statline will land closer to his 2018 line (195-908-8) than his 2019 (247-1091-8). He is a non-factor in the passing game, as he’s caught just 52 passes in three seasons.
Unfortunately, the Colts offensive line didn’t always protect Brissett, and he was able to move out of the rush, where Rivers won’t be able to escape. Indianapolis finished with the 12th best sack protection in the league, but that figure will now go up.
Fantasy Football Pros and Cons with Philip Rivers in Indianapolis
- More touchdowns
- More Yards in passing and rushing
- Veteran leadership
- Arm strength
- System familiarity
- A production increase for Hilton, Campbell, Doyle
- The decrease in arm strength
- Less production for Mack
The Los Angeles Chargers Without Philip Rivers
Now, who will fill the void left in Los Angeles? At this point, it’s the Tyrod Taylor show. Taylor has been a starting quarterback and can fill-in a season but won’t drive a team to success. The market isn’t fertile, as Jameis Winston is the viable free agent. Also, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Jacoby Brissett will be searching for jobs more than likely. Cam might soon join Winston in the free agency ranks, even.
Barring any transactions, Taylor is their guy. He has an explosive arm, and his mobility is a strength. Taylor is generally accurate, but he doesn’t throw for many touchdowns. He protects the ball, but doesn’t move it well; his interceptions and yardage are both minimal. In the 70 games played, he has thrown for 9,562 yards with 54 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, while completing 62 percent of his passes. He carries a respectable 23-21-1 record. Taylor also went to the Pro Bowl with Buffalo Bills in 2015 and part of the Super Bowl champion Ravens in 2012 while backing up Joe Flacco.
Taylor brings a whole new dimension to the Chargers’ offense, but it will translate to lesser production for Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The running game should get a big boost, meaning more for Austin Ekeler as the Chargers will focus their plans to run more often. Ekeler should also benefit from dump offs from Taylor. Look for Justin Jackson to have an instrumental role as he can slow down defenses with his workhorse running style. Hunter Henry will return on a franchise tag and should benefit from Tyrod Taylor, as well.
Fantasy Football Pros and Cons with Tyrod Taylor in Los Angeles
- Fewer interceptions
- More mobility at quarterback
- Fewer sacks
- Increase in production for Ekeler
- Fewer yards
- Fewer touchdowns
- A decrease in production for Allen and Williams
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(Header Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Philip_Rivers_2014.JPG, cropped, under CC BY-SA 4.0)