Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) walks off the field in the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Detroit won 13-10. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) signals after Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) was held short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throws in the first half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
CARSON, Calif. (AP) In a week in which one of his 2004 draft classmates suffered a season-ending elbow injury and the other was benched, Philip Rivers continues to be old reliable for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Rivers will make his 209th consecutive start on Sunday when the Chargers host the Houston Texans in a key early season matchup. That ties him with Eli Manning for the second-longest QB starting streak in NFL history.
Manning, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, was benched this week by the Giants for rookie Daniel Jones and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the No. 11 overall selection, will miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury.
''I don't think you ever take it for granted, no question. I think even more-so now, you just realize that it doesn't last forever,'' Rivers said.
Longevity though is not what Rivers is focusing on this week. It is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 13-10 loss at Detroit where the Chargers' hope for a comeback ended when he threw an interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
The pick capped a day that saw the Chargers have two touchdowns called back because of penalties, two missed field goals and a turnover in the red zone. The loss leaves LA at 1-1 and facing a fellow playoff participant from last season.
''I think that we've shown the ability to bounce back over the years when we've lost some tough ones,'' Rivers said. ''Usually, you never take any satisfaction in losing, obviously, but most of our losses are going to be tough ones - at least I hope.''
Rivers is very much a pocket passer who is not fleet of foot, Deshaun Watson is the opposite. The third-year quarterback is two touchdown passes away from 50 in his career and needs 35 rushing yards to become the seventh QB in NFL history with 900 yards or more in his first 26 games.
While the Chargers are coming off a close loss, the Texans survived a missed 2-point conversion to beat Jacksonville 13-12.
''Everyone is making sure that as far as I go, the offense goes and the whole team goes,'' Watson said. ''It just kind of grows on itself and the more I play, the more reps I get, the more games I start as a quarterback here, the more it grows.''
Here is what else to watch for during Sunday's game:
STILL RUNNING WELL
There hasn't been any decline in the Chargers' running game despite Melvin Gordon's holdout. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson have combined to average 5.7 yards per carry.
Ekeler leads the AFC in scrimmage yards (287) and is tied for sixth in the league in offensive touches (46). However, he did fumble near the goal line in last Sunday's 13-10 loss to Detroit.
Jackson has been a nice change-of-pace back with seven of his 13 carries going for 10 yards or more.
Houston outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week this week after he had two sacks, forced two fumbles and had two quarterback hits in a win over the Jaguars last Sunday. His second strip sack was recovered by J.J. Watt and the Texans scored their only touchdown of the game four plays later. Mercilus is the only player in the NFL to force more than one fumble this season.
It was his second straight big game this season after he had a sack, an interception, five tackles, including one for a loss and a quarterback hit in Houston's opener.
''Whitney has been a very productive player for us over the years,'' coach Bill O'Brien said. ''He's been a guy that really is just known for doing his job. He just does a good job of setting the edge in the running game and then rushing the passer.''
Running backs Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson have filled in nicely in the first two games after Lamar Miller, who was Houston's featured back for the past three seasons, sustained a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game. The duo has helped the Texans average 153 yards rushing a game, which ranks fifth in the NFL. Hyde has carried a bigger load than Johnson so far and he is fifth in the league with 173 yards rushing.
Their success is impressive considering that neither player started camp with the team. Johnson came to Houston in a trade with Cleveland on Aug. 9 and Hyde joined the Texans on Aug. 31 in a deal with Kansas City.
PASS RUSHERS ON PARADE
The game will feature three of the top pass rushers in the AFC. Houston's J.J. Watt is still looking for his first sack this season and has never taken down Rivers.
Los Angeles' Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have combined for two sacks, both coming in the opener against Indianapolis.
The Chargers are hoping to get placekicker Michael Badgley back after he has missed two games because of a groin injury. Ty Long has handled both kicking and punting duties, but missed a pair of field-goal attempts last week.
The Texans have brought back punter Bryan Anger after Trevor Daniel struggled.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers are facing a stingy Titans Defense this week. In the last three weeks, the Titans have only allowed two passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, in Rivers last three games hes passed for four touchdowns and 4 interceptions, which included a juicy matchup against the Dolphins that helped pad his stats. Rivers is a usually a streaming option, but fantasy owners shouldnt count on him this week.
Melvin Gordon has been off to a shaky start this year after missing four weeks of the season due to his holdout. Hes put up a lowly 31 and 18 yards respectively in his first two games. He plays a stiff Titans run defense this week. On the season, the Titans havent allowed much fantasy production to the RB position. The highest scoring RB to date is Nick Chubb who finished with 14.50 points in half-PPR leagues. The best is yet to come for Gordon, but this is not the week that he gets rolling.
Hunter Henry is coming off the heels of a monster performance against the Steelers. He made good on eight of his nine targets where he stacked up 100 yards and a touchdown. The Titans are a middle of the pack defense against the TE position, and they've only faced one legitimate threat in Austin Hooper back in Week 4 where he blew their secondary out of the water. The TE position is paper thin, and Henry should be a shoo-in for a TE1 week.
Chris Carson is gobbling up the running downs work in Seattle. In the last three weeks, Carson has seen no less than 26 touches in a game. Carson is a true workhorse back. He's going up against a Ravens Defense that ranks 10th against opposing rushers, but don't let that number fool you. Baltimore played the Dolphins in Week 1 and the Cardinals, who had yet to put things together, in Week 2. The Ravens have been exposed on the ground in matchups versus the Chiefs and the Browns. Don't expect Carson to slow down this week. If you own Carson, start him with full confidence.
The Baltimore Ravens Defense isn't nearly as dominant as they were a year ago. They've been involved in a couple high-scoring affairs already this season. Russell Wilson is on a roll right now, he's managed to score more than 30 fantasy points in each of his last two appearances. The Ravens are currently allowing an average of 281.5 yards per game to QB's, though things might change with the addition of Marcus Peters. Still, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense should be able to put up points against Seattle's defense, forcing Wilson to throw. If Wilson can get 30 passing attempts, or anywhere near that total, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Mike Williams has been a bit of a disappointment this season to those who drafted him. He's been dealing with an injury, but in the last two weeks he saw 13 and 10 targets respectively. If he sees a similar target share this week, he just needs one broken play to post a great stat-line. He's best as a WR3 or flex, but his upside is sky-high.
Keenan Allen has pulled a Houdini in recent weeks. The last time he saw more than six targets was back in Week 3 where he received a whopping 17 targets. He faces a middle of the pack passing defense in the Titans who rank 14th against the WR position in the last four games. Philip Rivers has his full array of targets this week with Hunter Henry and Mike Williams both healthy and ready to go. While Allen is still a must-start, if he doesn't receive an uptick in opportunity, he could disappoint yet again.
Austin Ekeler started the season with a bang, but the Ekeler show ended when Melvin Gordon returned to the fold. Ekeler barely left the sidelines last week against the Steelers. Granted, the game script couldnt have been worse for the Chargers as they found themselves trying to erase a 14 point deficit early in the game. Still, the disparity in touches was alarming if you own Ekeler. The Titans dont have the fire power to put up points quickly against the Chargers, so there should be a more equal timeshare in the backfield. Regardless, weve seen what Ekelers floor is, and it isnt pretty.
Tyler Lockett's out-of-this-world touchdown per catch ratio has finally caught up with him this season. Russell Wilson is distributing the ball more, and it's been at Lockett's detriment. In weeks 2 and 3, Lockett saw double-digit targets in each game and converted those into nice fantasy outings. Now that Will Dissly is out of the picture, Lockett's target share should go up again, and we all know what one well-placed long ball from Wilson can do for Lockett's fantasy day. Lockett goes up against a Ravens Defense that hasn't been playing at a high-level this season. However, the newly acquired Marcus Peters may change things. In what looks to be a high-scoring matchup, pencil Lockett in as a WR2 with upside.
D.K. Metcalf has pieced together a couple of nice fantasy outings this season, but his outlook for the future is contingent on touchdowns. In games without a touchdown, Metcalf has yet to score more than 10 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. Baltimore's secondary is exploitable, and there will be more targets to go around with Will Dissly's absence, but it's best to avoid Metcalf unless absolutely necessary.
The Chargers play a Tennessee Titans team with newly appointed Ryan Tannehill at the helm. The Chargers have to find a way to contain Derrick Henry if they expect to win, as they currently rank 24th against fantasy RB's. If they can win the battle up front, they might be able to take advantage of Ryan Tannehill who threw an interception in limited action last week. Though not ideal, there are worse defenses to stream this week.
Free-agent TE Dan Arnold (Saints) was signed to the New Orleans Saints' active roster roster Saturday, Oct. 19. TE Brian Parker was waived in a corresponding move.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews caught six passes on eight targets for 99 yards in Week 6 against the Bengals. On the season he has 34 receptions for 410 yards and three touchdowns. Andrews has been targeted at least seven times in every game this year, but hasn't gotten in the end zone since Week 4 against Cleveland. The Ravens play a Seahawks Defense that has allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2019, two to Vance McDonald and one in Week 6 to Ricky Seals-Jones. Seattle has been somewhat stingy against tight ends, but also gave up 187 yards to the Rams tight ends in Week 5. If receiver Marquise Brown is unable to go in Week 7, Andrews has a high possibility of leading Baltimore in receiving again in Hollywood's absence. Andrews is a TE1 for Week 7.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram rushed 13 times for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 6 against the Bengals. The Ravens play a Seahawks Defense that has allowed 557 rushing yards and given up six touchdowns to opposing backs in 2019. In Week 6 Seattle allowed the Browns to rush for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Ingram has rushed for at least 44 yards in every game this season, but is becoming a touchdown-dependent option. He hasn't even come close to his outlier performance against Kansas City when he rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. Baltimore still hosts a run-first offense so expect Ingram to get his touches, but he's in RB2 territory for Week 7.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson posted 236 passing yards, 152 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown against the Bengals in Week 6. Baltimore plays a Seahawks Defense in Week 7 that's allowed the eighth-most passing yards in the league through six games (1,602). Seattle has allowed at least 15 fantasy points every week to opposing quarterbacks in 2019 and let Baker Mayfield run for a touchdown in Week 6. Receiver Marquise Brown is still questionable to play with an ankle injury. If Hollywood is unable to go on Sunday, expect tight end Mark Andrews to get the bulk of targets and for Jackson to use his legs to get the ball moving. Jackson has firmly placed himself as a top-three QB start for the rest of the way.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is questionable for Monday Night Football.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas may not get to face his former team in the New England Patriots. He's coming off his best game of the season in Week 6, catching all four of his targets for 62 yards. He's a flex option at best as a bye-week replacement if active.
New York Jets TE Chris Herndon (hamstring) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered doubtful for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Herndon is yet to play this season following suspension and now injury. WRs Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson will remain the target hogs in New York's passing game.
New York Jets LB Albert McClellan (concussion) didn't practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is out for Monday, Oct. 21's game against the New England Patriots. DE Henry Anderson (shoulder), OL Kelvin Beachum (ankle), RB Trenton Cannon (foot/ankle), LB Neville Hewitt (neck/knee) and G Kelechi Osemele (shoulder) also didn't practice and are considered doubtful. OL Alex Lewis (neck), CB Nate Hairston (knee), LB C.J. Mosley (groin), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring), CB Darryl Roberts (ankle) and Brian Winters (shoulder/knee) were limited participants and are questionable. C Ryan Kalil (shoulder) didn't practice and is also questionable.
New England Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett (hamstring) was limited in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday, Oct. 21's games against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Dorsett is at risk of missing a second straight game after he left the Week 5 contest against the Washington Redskins with just four snaps played. WR Josh Gordon (ankle) has already been ruled out and WR Julian Edelman (chest) is also questionable. Expect plenty of work for RBs James White and Sony Michel in the passing game.
New England Patriots RB Rex Burkhead (foot) was a limited participant in practice Saturday, Oct. 19, and is considered questionable for Monday Night Football against the New York Jets.
Fantasy Spin: Burkhead hasn't been noteworthy this season outside of a surprise Week 3 start with RBs James White and Sony Michel inactive. Expect his two teammates to see plenty of work this week.