The 2011 season brought high hopes for a number of NFL quarterbacks. There were the usual expectations of guys like Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but in any fantasy circle it didn’t take long before Philip Rivers’ name came up in the potentially “elite” category. Rivers had finished 2010 with over 4700 passing yards, 30 TDs, and only 13 INTs. He did this with Vincent Jackson, one of his biggest playmakers, sitting out over half the season because of a contract dispute. Rivers made guys off the street look like top caliber players. No one had heard of Legedu Naanee or Seyi Ajirotutu, and yet Rivers made them look like fantasy studs.
So going into 2011 the expectations were high. Rivers would have Vincent Jackson back. He would have a healthy Antonio Gates. And he would have a healthy Ryan Matthews in the backfield. Everything was set up perfectly for rivers to demolish his 2010 totals. I predicted Rivers would easily break Marino’s single season mark of 5084 yards and thought Vincent Jackson would have a shot at 1800 receiving yards. What we have seen from Rivers has been nothing close to that.
Through six games Rivers has only eight total touchdowns while accumulating 11 turnovers. He comes in at No. 20 in QB
rating, behind the likes of McNabb, Dalton, and even Curtis Painter. He doesn’t have a single game with three or more TDs this season, a feat that even Tarvaris Jackson has accomplished this year. From a fantasy perspective he is even being outdone by Colt McCoy. To say that Philip Rivers has underperformed would be a very strong understatement.
While the Chargers are 4-2 on the year, there should be little excitement for the San Diego fans. The Chargers have won four games against teams that are a combined 6-19 on the season. Their two losses came against the Patriots and the Jets. In these six games, the Chargers have only outscored their opponents by five points, the worst point differential for any team 4-2 or better. The Chargers still have games against Oakland (twice), Green Bay, Chicago, Buffalo, Baltimore, and Detroit. These six teams combine for a current record of 28-11. At the current pace, there is no way that Rivers and the Chargers make the playoffs.
Even when the Chargers do win, it is not at the hands of Rivers. Ryan Matthew and Mike Tolbert have carried a huge load this season, touching the ball a combined 197 times. Those two players account for 62% of the team’s plays. When did this team go from being Philip Rivers’ team to being the Matthews-Tolbert show? Clearly this is not going to get it done for 16 games.
Rivers has easily been one of the biggest disappointments not only in the world of fantasy football, but for every Chargers fan who expected continued greatness from a guy who was surrounded by weapons. So will the real Philip Rivers please stand up? If it is the one we have seen so far this year, Chargers fans better get used to disappointment.