Can Philip Rivers repeat a better than expected 2008?

Can Philip Rivers repeat a better than expected 2008?

Not everybody likes Philip Rivers. There may be an entire industry built around hating him.

I have never quite understood it – he’s not even the most obnoxious player at his position in his team’s history (Ryan Leaf anyone)?
He’s a trash talker and I love a good fiery trash talker (see last fall’s constant Rudy Carpenter analysis), so maybe I’m immune to his tomfoolery.
All I know is, last season he talked – and backed it up.
If you drafted Rivers as part of a quarterback by committee or your back-up, there’s a fair chance you started him a ton more than you thought you would. Rivers led the league in passer rating and touchdown passes in 2008 and was in the top five quarterbacks of many fantasy leagues.
It’s worth noting he did it with a shaky offensive line, no blocking fullback to count on and a perpetually injured LaDainian Tomlinson. Of course, being down late in many games because the defensive was lackluster didn’t hurt his numbers.
The offensive line should be much improved this year, Jacob Hester should have a better grasp on blocking, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates will be healthy. There is a lot to like about Rivers’ team this year.
There are a few things to worry about though. First, the defense looks to be much better this season. Shawne Merriman is back and the overall defense looks stronger. That’s supposed to be good, right?
But in so far as Rivers’ value, no it may not be.
Part of what made Rivers such a surprise quarterback stud was the incredible collapse of his defense, forcing him to throw from behind in many games.
If a quarterback has to come from behind, there is a strong chance you will see their numbers inflated. Rivers had to throw a ton from behind last year. By all accounts, that is not the case this coming season.
So his opportunity to throw during a game may actually come down a bit.
Still, this is a player who has a ton of upside and while he may not throw as much as he did last year, he may be more effective and score more. With a better defense, field position will be better and while that may limit his 98 yard drives, he’s more likely to finish a shorter drive with a score than a longer one, since he doesn’t have a classic ‘big play/vertical threat’.
I’m a big Vincent Jackson fan and think we’ve really just scratched the surface of his talent the last season or so, but I don’t expect him to be a marque wide receiver in the Wayne/Jennings/Johnson sense. Chris Chambers keeps hanging around and people keep talking him up but he’s no great shakes overall. Decent but again, not anything to hang your hat on.
Yet Rivers is able to utilize them to tremendous affect and as he gets a healthy Gates back, I think it only helps him more. Looking at his division, it’s promising as well.

To me, while his attitude rubs some the wrong way I look past it to see a player who is definitely a top ten fantasy quarterback and a strong possibility to sniff the top five if things fall right.

Let others worry about his personality – grab him as part of your QBBC and know you have someone who has the upside to finish as one of the best in 2009.

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