Philip Rivers completed 71.8 percent of his passes on Sunday. The problem was the 7.7 percent he completed to the Vikings. Rivers’ three-interception meltdown was his third in five games, while he’s been picked off multiple times in 5-of-14 starts. He has finished without a turnover just four times. In a world where Jameis Winston wasn’t Favre-ing and Eli Manning wasn’t swan song-ing, Rivers’ giveaways would be the most famous in the land.
As it is, they are still the most consequential. The Bucs have been out of the playoff race for months. Manning is merely filling in. Rivers was still considered a true franchise quarterback before he derailed in October. Now the 38-year-old is an impending free agent with an arm that is looking increasingly shot. For the first time since turning to Rivers over Drew Brees, the Chargers must seriously confront the idea of starting someone else in 2020.
If it were up to Rivers, you would have to assume he would be back. He loves Southern California so much that he commutes daily from San Diego to Los Angeles. That’s a glacier-melting, multi-hour ride. This isn’t someone who is going to want to caretake for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Chargers could bring things full circle. They made Rivers the No. 4 overall pick of the 2004 draft even though they already had Brees. Re-signing Rivers as a bridge for a rookie — were the draft today, the Bolts would have the No. 9 pick — would make all the sense in the world. But could Rivers put his ego aside? Would that be the only thing that could snap him out of his tranquil California existence?
As the quarterback aging curve has flattened, it’s gotten harder and harder to spot the end for Rivers-level starters. Rivers has made it easier with his flashing red interceptions. Even if this is another false positive — Rivers does, after all, have two 20-INT campaigns to his name — the end is near. In Rivers’ wake figures to be zero Super Bowl titles and one of the most complicated Hall-of-Fame debates of all time.
Five Week 15 Storylines
Dalvin Cook re-injures shoulder, Mike Boone takes over. Slowed since Week 13, Cook was knocked out in Los Angeles, going down in the opening minute of the third quarter. Cook’s troublesome left shoulder was dangling by his side as he was helped off the field by four members of the training staff. He was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game, an ominous sign. With Alexander Mattison on the shelf with an ankle injury, second-year UDFA Boone took over the Vikings’ backfield, rushing 13 times for 56 yards and a pair of scores. Boone entered the game with just eight career touches. The smart money is on Cook missing at least the rest of the regular season as the Vikings try to get ready for the Wild Card round. Mattison will take the Week 16 lead against the Packers’ soft run defense if he can get healthy, but Boone is currently positioned as championship week’s top waiver add.
Chris Godwin latest Bucs stud to pop a tire. One week after the hamstring sniper felled Mike Evans, he got Godwin. The breakout third-year pro was forced to leave in the third quarter of a game where Jameis Winston would go on to pile up 458 yards and four scores. Thankfully all was not lost for those relying on Godwin in fantasy, as he tallied receptions of 62, 38 and 20 yards on his way to 5/121 before departing. That brings Godwin to 1,333 on the season. That is likely to be where he finishes, as the Bucs are playing on a short week with a 1PM ET Saturday kickoff. There will then be little reason to force the issue with Godwin for what would be a dream Week 17 matchup in the Falcons. A special player who has proven he can co-exist with Evans, 23-year-old Godwin is an elite dynasty league asset.
Tyler Lockett finally dusts off the cobwebs. Lockett entered Week 15 with eight catches for 107 yards over his past four games. He doubled that against the Panthers, going 8/120/1 as the Seahawks grinded out a typically strange road victory. Lockett now finds himself six yards shy of his first 1,000-yard campaign. He will be in excellent position to reach 1,100 yards against the Cardinals, who continue to boast one of the league’s worst defenses. Josh Gordon’s slow re-emergence is another Lockett hazard light, but Sunday is much closer to who he is than Weeks 11-14. Lockett will be a top-18 option for the fantasy finals with top-10 upside.
Anthony Miller continues hot finish with 9/118/1. There haven’t been many bright spots for the Bears this season, but Miller continues to light up the second half. The second-year second-rounder is now the owner of 33 catches for 431 yards over his past five games, getting off the scoring schneid with touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. He drew a ridiculous 15 targets in Green Bay, setting a new career high for the third time in five weeks. A jitterbug compiler capable of ripping big plays, Miller has the looks of a long-term No. 2 receiver, though his advanced age (25) is a hangup in dynasty leagues. For Week 16 he’ll be flirting with WR3 status against the Chiefs.
Kenyan Drake comes out of RB2 hibernation for four-touchdown day. Struggling since his scintillating Cardinals debut on Halloween, Drake became just the fourth player all year to have a four-score day. His 22 carries were the third most of his career, while his 137 rushing yards were a new personal best. As Drake ran wild, David Johnson did nothing, carrying the ball three times for six yards. Drake has committed a hostile takeover of the Cardinals’ backfield three months before he’s due to become a free agent. Proving he is indeed capable of carrying a backfield, 26-year-old (next month) Drake will be an intriguing commodity for the young coaches trying to modernize the NFL running game.