We’ve seen countless facial expressions that allow us to laugh hysterically at quarterback Philip Rivers. However, if he continues what he’s doing thus far in 2013, he may be the one with the last laugh.
Coming into the season, many people expected the San Diego Chargers to compete… for the worst record in football, that is. However, thanks to Rivers’ strong play, the Chargers could very well be 2-0, rather than 1-1. Through two games, Rivers is sporting a 115.8 passer rating, has tossed seven touchdowns (second in NFL) and has passed for 614 yards. The most impressive aspect of River’s early success is the fact that he is doing it with hardly any weapons at his disposal. I mean, Eddie Royal has emerged into one of River’s primary targets, having already hauled in five touchdown passes in two weeks. Meanwhile, the ageless wonder Antonio Gates, who I failed to give up on, has 10 grabs for 173 yards thus far. Remember, Danario Alexander is on injured reserve and Malcom Floyd left Sunday’s contest after a scary collision, though he isn’t expected to miss a bunch of time. Still, Rivers has looked very strong, especially in Week 1 where he threw four touchdowns against a very strong Texans defense.
So, what’s behind his success? Can he sustain it?
Under head coach Mike McCoy, he very well could. McCoy has always been known to love passing the football in his offenses. During his time with the Broncos, he implemented a pass-heavy offense, and heck, even got the best out of Tim Tebow. Under McCoy, Kyle Orton posted his career-high in attempts (541), while Peyton Manning, one year removed from neck surgery, threw the ball 583 times, which was the third-most he’d ever posted in his career. The Chargers are already showcasing that they want to throw the football, as Rivers has thrown the ball 79 times in two games. I think the new San Diego offense could help limit River’s turnovers this season, as McCoy historically likes to feature his running backs in the passing game, which is probably why the team brought in third-down back Danny Woodhead. During that 2011 season with Tebow, McCoy’s offense targeted the running backs 18.4 percent of the time, and 14.4 percent the next season with Manning under center. Having two capable pass-catching backs in Woodhead and Ronnie Brown should help Rivers immensely.
After sliding down numerous draft boards this summer, Rivers looks like he can easily be a high-end QB2, with some QB1 upside if your starter goes down. No, his mechanics aren’t the best in the world by any means, but we have seen him as a legitimate fantasy signal caller in year’s past. He finished 2010 as the fourth-best fantasy quarterback, and finished ninth in both 2009 and 2011. Volume is something I often chase when it comes to fantasy, and there is no doubt that Rivers will be airing the ball out quite a bit this year. And even if these first two weeks are just a mirage, Rivers will still likely be a major garbage time option, at the very least.
However, what we have seen so far is definitely encouraging.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.