Can lightning strike twice for Philip Rivers? He does play for the San Diego Chargers after all.
One of the more surprising developments from the 2013 season was Rivers' resurgence. He enjoyed a career high in completion percentage (69.5) while throwing for 4,478 yards, 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. It was enough to get the 32-year-old the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Rivers was the fifth-best fantasy quarterback in the league last year.
Still, many remain lukewarm on his potential for 2014. Both NFL.com and ESPN.com listed him as the 14th-best quarterback in their preseason rankings. His average draft position on ESPN.com's standard fantasy leagues is 104.8, which seems a bit low given his success in 2013.
When crafting your draft strategy, it's always wise to target a few buy-low candidates. Why not make Rivers one of those guys?
Some might be a bit concerned with former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt bolting for the Tennessee Titans. While Whisenhunt can take credit for some of Rivers' success, it's not as if he took a completely worthless QB and sent him to the Pro Bowl.
The move to Frank Reich may not be as bad as some are predicting for Rivers' fantasy stats. If anything, Reich may be a godsend.
On NFL.com's Around The League Podcast, Bucky Brooks revealed that the Chargers are running more no-huddle sets and integrating some of the K-Gun principles the Buffalo Bills made famous in the 1990s, via NFL.com's Chris Wesseling.
"I think they're going to give Philip Rivers more leeway than he's ever had," said Brooks. "I think you're going to see them play at a pace that we haven't seen them play at, and I think they're ramping up and they'll be far more exciting than we're used to seeing the Chargers in terms of passing."
Some fans might equate Rivers with being a bit of a gunslinger at times and not the kind of quarterback who puts all that much thought into what he's doing on the field. He just goes out and does his thing. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.
That couldn't be any further from the truth. Reich couldn't help but gush over Rivers' intelligence and ability to understand the game, per Sports on Earth's Dan Pompei:
If there is a top ten list of smartest guys in the league, he's on it, promise you. I would watch him in practice, hear the calls he would make, how fast he would process things. He's dropping back, talking to the backs as he's moving, telling them who to block, calling out code names for blitzes. He just sees it faster than anybody else.
In short, learning a new style and playbook shouldn't be too hard for the veteran QB.
Rivers isn't lacking for weapons in the passing game, either.
Keenan Allen should see a jump from year one to year two, while Malcom Floyd is healthy once again. Put the two together, and the Chargers have a nice duo through the air. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune was impressed back in July with how well they were playing against Brandon Flowers, who was one of San Diego's bigger offseason acquisitions:
Keenan Allen is special. Malcom Floyd is tough matchup. Brandon Flowers didn't practice all spring. But still, those 2 are owning him so far— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) July 30, 2014
Ladarius Green is also a major breakout candidate at tight end. Antonio Gates still has the starter's job on lock, but don't be surprised if Green starts creeping up the depth chart as the season goes on. NFL Fantasy Football tweeted out that "the gap will close this season":
Keep an eye on Ladarius Green. Won't surpass Gates just yet. But the gap will close this season.— NFL Fantasy Football (@NFLfantasy) August 8, 2014
The 24-year-old is a freak athlete and one of the modern tight ends who plays like a wide receiver and causes matchup problems for the opposing defense because of his size and athleticism. If Green plays well, Rivers will have four very good targets to whom he can look this season.
Expecting Rivers to be a top-five fantasy quarterback this season may be a bit unrealistic. But top 10 certainly isn't out of the picture.
Having an elite quarterback is always a nice bonus, but it's far from a prerequisite when it comes to winning a title. If you're willing to take the risk, Rivers is a nice QB1 option to wait on until the later rounds, thus allowing your team to get stronger in other areas without sacrificing too much at quarterback.