Week Seventeen Analysis: With games against the Raiders in the opening and closing weeks of the season, Philip Rivers will bookend his year against a pretty bad defense, that gives him an opportunity to improve. He's been pretty bad for a month, but the Oakland secondary should provide a respite. Brady Quinn is the only quarterback who has failed to throw a touchdown against the Raiders. Five opposing quarterbacks have topped 300 yards against the Raiders, and six have thrown multiple touchdowns. Plus, the Chargers are without a running game, and Rivers will need to throw his way to victory in Norv Turner's swan song.
Week Fiften Analysis: Philip Rivers: Rivers is coming off a shocking three touchdown game against Pittsburgh, after struggling against Cincinnati and Baltimore. Danario Alexander has helped a lot. Carolina's secondary had been among the league's elite, but the last two weeks, both Brady Quinn and Matt Ryan have thrown two touchdowns, making them just the third and fourth QBs to top 1 TD vs Carolina. Injuries to Charles Godfrey and Captain Munnerlyn account for some of that, but they're healthy now, and Carolina should go back to being a tough secondary.
Week Fourteen Drop: No one has a more brutal schedule than Phillip Rivers over the fantasy playoffs. He faces the Steelers, Panthers and Jets during that time. He probably won't get a starting grade from me in any of those games. The Steelers rank first in the league in fewest passing yards allowed, the Jets are fourth in that category and the Panthers have yielded the seventh-fewest passing touchdowns. If you've made it this far, you already have another option at quarterback who has likely been starting all season. Rivers is droppable to pick up another piece that can help you win now.
Week Twelve Analysis: Philip Rivers has been a model of fantasy consistency this year, even with his team playing lousy ball since the opening month. He's thrown multiple touchdowns in six of the past seven games. On that basis alone, he's startable almost any week. Now, he goes up against a decimated Baltimore secondary, missing Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb due to injury, and quite possibly Ed Reed due to suspension. Prior to playing Byron Leftwich on Sunday night, who technically does not count, the Ravens had allowed multiple touchdown passes in three of their previous four games.
Week Eleven Analysis: This is a murky matchup for Philip Rivers. The Broncos are a decent pass defense, allowing a middle-of-the-pack 241 passing yards per game. When Rivers faced Denver in week six, he posted that exact number, 241 yards. He also threw two touchdowns. But that was just his second multiple touchdown game against Denver in his past seven meetings. The arrival of Danario Alexander helps give him a downfield passing attack, and that's helped him throw multiple touchdowns in five of his last six games, going back to week three. Rivers looks like a safe, but not explosive fantasy option this week.
Week Ten Analysis: Philip Rivers doesn't have the explosive upside that he once did, but he's been very consistent. Aside from the freezing rain game in Cleveland a couple weeks ago, he's thrown two touchdowns in four straight matchups. But, this week, he's got an elevated ceiling thanks to a cushy matchup with the feckless Buccaneer secondary. Two of the past three quarterbacks to face Tampa have thrown four touchdowns apiece. Four! Tampa is dead last in passing yardage allowed, and by a healthy margin. Plus, they've allowed the most passes of 30 or more yards, 16. It's bombs away for Philip Rivers.
Week Eight Analysis: From a pure football standpoint, Philip Rivers has been an inconsistent quarterback. His four interceptions in his last game make that abundantly clear. But, as a fantasy point producer, he's been okay. He's had four multi-touchdown games in his last five. With a seemingly-easy matchup with Cleveland coming up, he's likely to extend his usability streak. The Browns have allowed every opposing quarterback to score at least twice. Last week they held Andrew Luck to his lowest passing output of the year, but he ran in two scores. Maybe Cleveland's improved performance suggests that they're returning to last year's form, but that's a leap of faith they haven't earned yet.
Week Six Analysis: Historically, Philip Rivers has really struggled with his bi-annual matchup with the Denver Broncos. Over the past six games, he's topped one touchdown pass only one time. And he's averaged a modest 233 yards. And Rivers is susceptible to the clunker game. He's had a couple this year. Working in his favor is an aging Denver secondary. Champ Bailey is long in the tooth, and not nearly as strong a coverage corner as he used to be. And Tracey Porter has already given up three touchdowns. A breakout is possible for Rivers, but I don't see a high ceiling.
Week Five Analysis: Everyone is talking about how much the Saints miss Sean Payton. Instead they should be talking about how much they miss Greg Williams. Last year's defensive coordinator is gone, and the Saints can't stop anyone. Player grading service Pro Football Focus ranks the Saints starting cornerbacks as the 76th-best and the 98th-best in the league. That's brutal. They're giving up 285 passing yards per game, and Aaron Rodgers just carved ‘em up for four scores. Corey White in particular is awful, with 90% of the passes thrown his way ending up completed. The Chargers offense has been wildly inconsistent, but Rivers should have one of his better games of the year against this lackluster defense.
Week Four Analysis: The Kansas City secondary simply doesn't look the same without cornerback Brandon Carr, who left for Dallas in the offseason. Funny, Dallas' secondary has been great, and KC's secondary has been lousy, allowing eight passing touchdowns already. Only one team has allowed more. That opens the door for Philip Rivers, despite the fact that he didn't throw even one touchdown in last year's two meetings with the Chiefs. Again, this year's Chiefs defense just isn't the same without Carr, and Rivers can easily bounce back from last week's disappointing game with the Falcons.
Week Two Analysis: I thought Philip Rivers was just okay on Monday night. But, I'm happy to cut him some slack since he played his first game without Vincent Jackson, and without injured receiver Vincent Brown, and without his blind side tackle. I have higher hopes this week as he faces a Tennessee secondary that just allowed Tom Brady to throw 31 passes with only eight incompletions. The loss of Cortland Finnegan is apparent already. I don't see a really high upside with Rivers, but he should be safe for decent numbers, especially if the running game is as tepid as last week, and he gets a few extra throws.
Week One Analysis: I'm officially nervous about Philip Rivers. He's lost Vincent Jackson to free agency. He's lost Vincent Brown to a fractured ankle. And he's lost starting RT Jared Gather, who likely won't play this week. Undrafted rookie Mike Harris will protect his blind side. Yipes! And, he can't handoff to Ryan Mathews to take heat off his passing game. Fortunately, the Oakland secondary is really bad. They allowed the 2nd-most passing touchdowns last year, and they lost one of their better cornerbacks, Stanford Routt in the offseason. Rivers smoked the Raiders last year, throwing for almost 600 yards and five touchdowns in the two meetings. There's a lot of negatives with Rivers, but I'm not sure Oakland can exploit them all.
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