In 2015, quarterback Philip Rivers led the NFL with 662 passing attempts. The next closest player was Tom Brady with 627.
But the San Diego Chargers are hoping in 2016 that the players around Rivers can provide a little more support and he won’t have to chuck the ball all game.Embed from Getty Images
But if Rivers throws the ball less, will that hurt his production in 2016 Fantasy Football leagues?
Let’s take a quick look at Rivers’ 2015 Fantasy season before reviewing his 2016 outlook.
2015 Fantasy Football Review: Philip Rivers
He threw an incredible 65 passes in Week 6, completing 43 of those passes for 503 yards.
And because he attempted so many passes, the 34-year old quarterback recorded eight performances with 300 or more passing yards (the most of his career).
All of these passes helped Rivers finish with the most passing yards (4,793) of his career, but he surprisingly only threw 29 touchdown passes. Those 29 touchdowns were his lowest totals since his 26 touchdown passes in 2012.Embed from Getty Images
Now, part of that was the offense for the San Diego Chargers was completely decimated by injuries. Keen Allen only appeared in eight games, Stevie Johnson only appeared in 10 games, and Malcom Floyd played through a torn labrum in his shoulder that he suffered in November.
Floyd has retired, and there were a few offseason moves that will make this offense look a little different in 2016.
Philip Rivers: 2016 Fantasy Football Weapons
Allen suffered a kidney injury and was only able to play in eight games, but he was on track for a monster Fantasy season last year.
In 14 games in 2014, Allen hauled in 77 receptions for 783 receiving yards. In eight games last year, Allen recorded 67 receptions for 725 receiving yards. He was averaging 90.6 receiving yards per game, which means he was on track for 1,449 receiving yards.
Even though 2016 will be his fourth year in the league, Allen is still just 24 years old. He looks very appealing as a second-round pick.
Although he’s only 175 pounds and played for one of the wort offenses in the NFL last season, Travis Benjamin still hauled in 68 passes for 966 receiving yards. Benjamin will serve as a deep threat for Rivers, and he is a great player to add in your MFL10 lineup.
Stevie Johnson was supposed to serve as the deep threat last year, but injuries derailed his potentially promising season. He had three-straight games with seven receptions from Weeks 9-12.
But even if he is healthy, Johnson will have to fight off Benjamin for Rivers’ attention.
Tight end Antonio Gates will return for his 14th season. The 35-year old veteran was still productive last season, but he wasn’t a reliable Fantasy option. Gates has not recorded a 1,000-yard season since 2009, and his touchdown production has waned since 2010 (outside of his 12 touchdowns from 2014).
Dynasty players are drooling over rookie tight end Hunter Henry (6-foot-5, 250 pounds), and head coach Mike McCoy told ESPN he won’t hesitate to get Henry on the field.
Young tight ends aren’t known for being especially productive, but it’s good to know that Rivers has two large players to target.
Outside of his traditional receivers, Rivers will have pass-catching specialist Danny Woodhead back for another season. Woodhead caught 81 passes last year and six touchdowns.
Philip Rivers: 2016 Fantasy Football Outlook
Part of the reason Rivers had to throw so much last season was because the defense for the Chargers allowed an average of 24.9 points per game. The other big reason Rivers had to throw so much was because the rushing attack simply didn’t work last season.
The Chargers ranked 31st in rushing yards per game.
If Melvin Gordon can take a step forward in 2016, that should make things more balanced for San Diego. That does mean Rivers might not need to throw as many passes, though, so keep that in mind if you consider drafting him.
Rivers was the 11th-highest scoring quarterback last season, and just one more touchdown would have tied him for the 8th-highest scoring quarterback with Kirk Cousins.Embed from Getty Images
The veteran quarterback has averaged 29 touchdown passes per season since 2010, and the most touchdowns he has ever thrown in a season was 34 in 2008. So if Rivers doesn’t need to throw the ball as much in 2016, he might not be able to do to improve his totals from 2015.
Still, he’s already safe choice if you like to wait on your quarterbacks. And if key players like Allen and Gates are able to stay healthy throughout the season, Rivers could provide a nice return on your investment.