Philip Rivers Is Being Undervalued in Fantasy Football (Again)

Rivers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and drafters seem to have forgotten that.

Phillip Rivers isn't getting a lot of love in the quarterback world lately.

He's not young. He can't move the football with his feet. He doesn't have any sexy big-name receivers. His team hasn't brought in a big name pass-happy offensive coordinator. His team isn't even as important as Comic-Con.

And I couldn't be happier about all of this.

Rivers' average draft position (ADP) according to currently sits at 120, and he is going off the board as the 14th quarterback. This is incredible value for anyone who's willing to look deeper than the immediate lack of excitement his name conjures up, or perhaps for anyone disillusioned with Comic-Con as of late.

Let's take a look at what makes him such a good value pick.


By virtue of his existing below the "elite" tier of quaterbacks, it's often overlooked just how good of a quarterback Rivers is. Our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric measures a player's contributions to his team's total expected points. Here is how Rivers' efficiency numbers have looked since he took over as the starting quarterback in San Diego.

YearDrop BacksPassing NEPPer Drop Back
2014605105.930.18 (t-6th)
2013575162.80.28 (5th)
201257616.930.03 (t-20th)
2011612105.640.17 (6th)
2010578149.590.26 (2nd)
2009511175.860.34 (1st)
2008503126.50.25 (3rd)
200748249.450.10 (t-12th)
200648786.680.18 (4th)

Rivers has been one of the five most efficient passers in the league five of the last nine seasons and has finished outside the top 10 only twice. He's coming off of two his top four seasons in terms of total Passing NEP and has still somehow remained a forgotten man. Of course, this is nothing new for Rivers, especially in the fantasy football world.

Fantasy Scoring

Rivers' on-field impact also stretches to the fantasy game, where he has been a top-tier option more often than not.

YearFantasy PointsADP among QBs
2014266 (12th)15th
2013287 (6th)23rd
2012208 (21st)11th
2011256 (9th)5th
2010283 (5th)7th
2009270 (7th)5th
2008279 (3rd)14th
2007178 (16th)9th
2006204 (8th)21st

Rivers has finished the season as a fantasy football QB1 (top-12) in seven of his nine years as a starter. Despite this, his ADP has only fallen in the QB1 range five times and again falls out of that range this year. His average finish in fantasy scoring is 9.7, but his average ADP (including this offseason's) is 12.4.

He has proven himself to be consistently one of the top quarterbacks in the league, both in real life and fantasy football, and there's no reason to believe that will change this year. If anything, some improvements to the passing game make this years' prospects look even better than 2014.

Improved Weapons

Danny Woodhead, the Chargers' top pass-catching back, missed almost all of the 2014 season due to injury. Rookie Branden Oliver stepped up in his absence, but he simply couldn't replicate what Woodhead offers in the passing game.

PlayerReceptionsTargetsReception NEPPer Target
Woodhead (2013)768749.430.57
Oliver (2014)364515.380.34

Woodhead is one of the most effective receiving backs in the league, and his absence was felt in San Diego last year. Running backs contributed only 624 receiving yards in 2014, very close to the 605 Woodhead alone contributed in 2013 and significantly less than the 854 from backs as a whole. Woodhead's return in 2015 will provide Rivers with a much more dangerous target out of the backfield than he had last year.

There will also be some improvement at the wide receiver position. While Eddie Royal is now in Chicago, the Chargers have brought in Stevie Johnson to replace him. I touched on why I like Stevie Johnson this year in May, but lets look at how he stacks up against Royal.

PlayerReceptionsTargetsReception NEPPer Target
Stevie Johnson355040.480.81
Eddie Royal629168.460.75

Despite playing in a significantly worse passing offense -- the 49ers offense finished 22nd in Adjusted Passing NEP while the Chargers finished ninth -- Johnson was the more efficient of the two in 2014. He should settle into Royal's role in the offense nicely and gives Rivers a more dangerous weapon on the outside.

Rivers may not be the sexiest draft pick, and many of your league-mates may have written him off as a backup fantasy quarterback, but he offers undeniable value. He's the 14th quarterback being drafted, despite having finished better than that in seven of the last nine years. He's still one of the best passers in the game, and with some improved weapons from last year he will show that he is once again being underdrafted.

According to our algorithms, he is projected to secure another top-10 finish at the position in 2015.