Passer Appraisals Week 8: Philip Rivers and DeShone Kizer
Each week at TwoQBs.com I will post an article on two notable quarterback performances over the prior week. This week I will be looking at Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers and DeShone Kizer of the Cleveland Browns.
The Chargers lost to the Patriots in a low-scoring game this past week, and Philip Rivers completed only 17 passes (out of 30 attempts) for 212 yards and a touchdown. He also gave up one interception, though it was a YOLO-type play at the end of the game. For the year, he’s already at 2,028 yards and has 13 touchdown passes and 6 interceptions. We’re far enough into the season that we can start calculating the averages and that comes to 253 yards per game with 1.63 touchdowns and .75 interceptions per game. For fantasy purposes, Rivers is the 10th-best scoring quarterback on the year, ahead of Matt Stafford and Drew Brees.
Rivers started out well with a pass to Keenan Allen on the left side of the field for a 15-yard gain. He had two more pass plays before the team missed a field goal, and then on the next possession, Melvin Gordon took a handoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
Barely into the second quarter and with the scored tied 7-7, Rivers took a big shot from his own 20-yard line. He took a snap from under center and dropped back nine steps to the 12-yard line, going through his progressions and finally locking on Allen again, heading outside at the 50-yard line. The pass, however – one of Rivers’ trademark side-armed throws, landed about five yards in front of both Allen and cornerback Johnson Bademosi, who Allen had to tackle to keep from possibly getting to it. In other words, Allen was behind the cornerback and the throw was nowhere near him. This indicates Allen and Rivers not being on the same page for the play which could have easily resulted in an interception. They attempted a nearly identical play two more times, both successful later in the game, as if they felt they needed to use a live game to get more practice on the attempt.
Rivers’ passing touchdown came midway through the fourth quarter on a 1st-and-10 from the Patriots’ 24-yard line. From shotgun, Rivers took the snap and took a quick three-step dropback. He lofted the pass high into the air to come down in the back-right corner of the end zone over the inside shoulder of Travis Benjamin. It really was a beautiful play – pass, timing, placement… Everything. Almost a ray of hope that maybe the Chargers would get it all together and come back from their 11-point deficit. But it wasn’t to be.
At 35, Rivers is starting to fall out of consideration as a dynasty asset, but for the purposes of 2QB redraft leagues he can still be a fringe QB1 or high QB2 week to week. He’s not a dual threat by any means. According to ESPN, the team is trying to make him more efficient and reduce his turnovers while leaning on the defense to win the game, but the points totals are too low and the team needs him to balance that accuracy with actual production. In the end, it will be up to his coaches to push him, something that hasn’t gone over well in his 13 years in the league. I think his ceiling has passed. So I’m okay with leaning on him as a stable weekly QB2 and would happily offer a late-first round pick for him in 2QB dynasty, but you’re not winning if he’s your QB1, and I wouldn’t expect him to improve much, if at all.
The Browns lost to the Vikings in an early morning (in the States) game played in London. The quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, DeShone Kizer, passed for 179 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, and rushed five times for 18 yards and one score. Overall, it’s been a disastrous year for Kizer, scoring a combined six touchdowns and throwing 11 interceptions to go along with two fumbles. He has been benched partway through several games for being ineffective. In this game, the coaching staff were surely pressured to stay with him throughout the game to give him confidence going forward.
His first notable play was an under-thrown ball to Ricardo Louis at the two-minute warning in the second quarter. He took a snap from shotgun and dropped back three steps, then threw 40 yards downfield toward a tightly covered wide receiver. If the pass had been in front of Louis he could have continued toward the end zone, but instead he had to stumble and lean backward to pull the ball in. This is one of those instances when a play could have gone very badly (or simply fallen incomplete) but the skill of the receiver was the deciding factor in the catch, not the placement of the ball. In that same drive, after a shuttle pass to Isiah Crowell to get into the red zone, Kizer rushed forward behind the strength of his offensive line from the one yard line to score his only touchdown of the game.
Other than a 3rd-and-6 scramble to get to the first down line late in the game, there were no surprising or outstanding plays. The thing to note is that he didn’t do anything dramatically wrong and he finished the game out for his team. In previous weeks he had been pulled partway through the games rather than allow him to continue to make mistakes. Regardless of him being pulled or not, the team has lost every game this season. Him staying and not throwing an interception is tangible progress and will hopefully do wonders for his confidence.
In redraft, you can consider Kizer a prospective QB3 for the rest of the season and a bye week or injury insurance fill-in. After this week, the team will most likely continue to start him regardless of mistakes and the score. If you have him, once you’re through your bye weeks, see what you can get for him in a trade. In dynasty, he’s a much more interesting prospect after it was revealed that the Browns asked about acquiring A. J. McCarron from the Bengals. I would see if recency bias opens doors and I’d be offering a late second-round 2018 pick for him wherever he’s available. If he’s the quarterback of the future in Cleveland or even a high-end backup somewhere you can get him at a value.
Non-Quarterback Thoughts of the Week:
I traded away WR Sammy Watkins, TE Zach Ertz, DL J.J. Watt, and WR Jordan Matthews to get LB Kwon Alexander, FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and a 2019 first-round pick in one IDP league I’m in. My primary thought was to get value for the players who ride my IR spots every year. Getting a first round pick was the cherry on top.
Seeing all these prescription ads on TV, sometimes I’m totally unsure what those drugs are trying to treat.
If Jordan Reed sits this week, Vernon Davis is my number one tight end. Yes, even over Gronkowski and Ertz.
Kelvin Benjamin getting traded to the Bills is catastrophic news for my favorite rookie wide receiver Zay Jones. I’m not dropping or trading Jones, but I’m not excited about starting him anytime soon. That said, Kelvin Benjamin is a train wreck and I wouldn’t want any shares of his 53.3% career reception-to-target rate.
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