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.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 3
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense was dominant in the Week 3 win over the Broncos, getting six sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and two picks. The Bucs took advantage of an injured Broncos offense and capitalized with a dominant performance. The schedule looks promising for next week as they will likely face rookie QB Justin Herbert when they play the Chargers.
Tennessee Titans TE Jonnu Smith saw a team-high eight targets in Week 3, finishing with five receptions for 61 yards in a 31-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Fantasy Spin: Smith failed to score for the first time this year, but he finished with a season high in catches and targets. Smith could be headed for a TE1 campaign, and he is at least worth streaming while A.J. Brown is sidelined.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr tossed two touchdowns in a Week 3 loss against the Patriots. Carr's fantasy value continues to rise with six touchdown passes and no interceptions on the year. There are a lot of elite fantasy quarterbacks, so Carr probably isn't a starter quite yet. He generally has the same type of performance every week, so that makes his ceiling a bit lower than other players. With that being said, he can be counted on for consistency and he typically won't put up a terrible performance. He will have another challenge against the Bills next week who have one of the top secondaries in the league. He should probably stay on the bench but is worth considering for a start depending on who the other option is.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz made four catches in Week 3, gaining 48 yards. He was targeted six times and was still pretty well-involved in the passing game. He took a clear step back from being the featured receiver in Week 2, but he maintained enough playing time and passing routes to remain a relevant fantasy tight end, especially in deeper leagues. He should settle into a fantasy role much like traditional Cowboys tight ends: solid, with a high floor, but not much of a ceiling.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein made both of his field goal attempts in Week 3 along with one of his two extra points. Zuerlein's field goals came from 43 and 42 yards out. He continues to be a solid fantasy kicker, and with the Cowboys offense clicking on most cylinders, he should continue to put up points for fantasy managers.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense struggled again in a Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The Cowboys defense allowed 36 points, recording four sacks and one fumble recovery. Through three weeks, the Cowboys defense has allowed 95 points, recorded six sacks, and just one interception. They won't be a recommended fantasy option in Week 4 against the Cleveland Browns.
Green Bay Packers LB Christian Kirksey (shoulder) left the Week 3 game against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter and he is questionable to return.
Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis caught five of his six targets for 69 yards in a 31-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Davis continues to have a steady role in the passing game, and he is currently on pace for 80 catches and more than 1,000 yards. With A.J. Brown reportedly recovering slowly, Davis could have flex potential for the foreseeable future.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs had an average performance against the Patriots, rushing for 71 yards and catching three passes for 12 yards. This is not the type of performance you would like from a star running back like Jacobs, but the Patriots are not an easy matchup. Jacobs has yet to rush for over 100 yards in the first three games of the season, and he will look to eclipse that mark for the first time next week against the Bills. The Bills have a solid defense but surrendered 167 yards on the ground in Week 3 against the Rams. The Raiders' offensive line is good at run blocking, so there is a good chance Jacobs sees more success in Week 4.
The Las Vegas Raiders defense struggled again, giving up 36 points to the Patriots. They managed to grab an interception and sack Cam Newton twice but gave up over 400 yards in total offense. They have a young secondary, and their only real pass-rusher is Maxx Crosby. Through the first three weeks, the Raiders have not shown any signs that warrant them being on any fantasy team, let alone in the starting lineup. They take on the Bills next week who are showing signs of an elite offense through three weeks. It is reasonable to expect that game to be a shootout, so the Raiders would be a horrible play in Week 4.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Ced Wilson came out of nowhere in Week 3 to score two long touchdowns in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson was targeted seven times, catching five for 107 yards and the two scores. Wilson's first score was on a 40-yard pass in the second quarter. He followed it up with a 42-yard score in the third quarter. There's a good chance this will be Wilson's best game of the season, as he's still no higher than fourth on the wide receiver depth chart. Still, it's hard to ignore his performance, so fantasy managers with a free bench spot can probably snag him off the waiver wire before Week 4.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper made nine catches in a Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was targeted a team-leading 12 times, gaining 86 yards on his nine grabs. Cooper tied with Ezekiel Elliott for the team lead in targets and led the team in catches, but fell behind Michael Gallup and Ced Wilson in yards. Both of those guys scored touchdowns in this one as well, while Cooper is still looking for his first score of the season. The Cowboys have all kinds of options in the passing game, which may limit Cooper's upside this season. He may settle into the high-end WR2 range for most games, but he'll often have WR1 upside.
Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb caught five passes in a Week 3 loss, gaining 65 yards. He was targeted six times in this one, ending up fifth on the team in targets. Ced Wilson came out of nowhere and Michael Gallup along with Amari Cooper took on most of Dak Prescott's targets in this one. Lamb should continue to have solid games like this one, but his upside is somewhat limited by all of the other strong options in the Dallas passing game.
Tennessee Titans QB Ryan Tannehill completed 23 of his 37 pass attempts for 321 yards and an interception in a 31-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: It was a season high in yards for Tannehill, but he failed to throw a touchdown pass after tossing a combined six in the first two games. The Tennessee offense will continue to revolve around Derrick Henry and the ground game, but Tannehill is able to keep defenses honest and is a solid QB2.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry rushed 26 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns and caught two of his three targets for 11 yards in a 31-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Henry found the end zone for the first time this season, recording his second 100-yard game. The workhorse back has logged at least 25 carries and topped 80 rushing yards in all three games, and Henry's volume gives him one of the highest floors among fantasy backs.
Carolina Panthers LB Shaq Thompson finished with 13 total tackles and two passes defensed in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was held in check for once in Week 3. The Seattle Seahawks Defense did a good job keeping Elliott from doing much. He ended up running the ball 14 times, gaining just 34 yards but scoring on a one-yard plunge in the first quarter. He added six catches on 12 targets, gaining 24 yards through the air. "Zeke" tied for the team lead with the dozen passing targets, but couldn't do much with them. It was a down game from the elite RB1, but he should get back on top of things next week against the Cleveland Browns.
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard touched the ball only once on offense in Week 3. Pollard did not record a rushing attempt, and he caught his only target, losing five yards on it. Pollard continues to play as a distant backup to three-down back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott saw 12 targets in the passing game in this one, a spot that Pollard may have been used in in the past. Pollard remains a backup with league-winning upside but is not a starting option in any format as long as Elliott is healthy.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup played very well in a Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Gallup caught six passes on nine targets, gaining 138 yards and scoring a touchdown. Gallup's touchdown was an impressive 43-yard catch at the end of the third quarter. Gallup was much more involved in this one, ending up third on the team in targets behind Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. Gallup will have more big games like this one, but he'll be hard to predict on a game-to-game basis. He's a WR3 with upside next week against the Cleveland Browns.
Carolina Panthers WR D.J. Moore registered two receptions for 65 yards on four targets in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Fantasy Spin: Moore saw his lowest catch total, and he was back to an average receiving total after hitting the century mark in Week 3. He'll search for his first visit to the end zone in Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals.