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.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard will not be traded at the deadline, according to a source. The organization can also have him under control for two to three more years depending on franchise or transition tags, too.
Fantasy Spin: Howard is having a down year statistically, as head coach Bruce Arians has relied upon the tight end more for his blocking ability. At this point he has devolved into a TE2 in most fantasy formats, but at least it appears he won't be changing organizations anytime soon.
Green Bay Packers SS Ibraheim Campbell (knee) and TE Jace Sternberger (ankle) were able to practice Wednesday, Oct. 16. The team has 21 days to let them practice to decide upon activating them and having the players count against the 53-man roster.
Miami Dolphins DE Robert Nkemdiche (undisclosed) and CB Cordrea Tankersley (undisclosed) returned to practice Wednesday, Oct. 16. Both players started on the Physically Unable to Practice (PUP) list. The two players can practice up to 21 days before the team has to decide to activate them and count against the 53-man roster.
Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (knee) was able to practice Wednesday, Oct. 16. He remains on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and he can practice up to 21 days without counting against the 53-man roster. The hope is that he can return as soon as Week 7 against the Jacksonville Jaguars with CBs Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) and William Jackson III (shoulder) out.
Coming out of a bye week, Oakland Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is in prime position to pick up where he left off after a dominating Week 5 performance. After trouncing the Bears Defense for 143 total yards and two rushing scores two weeks ago, the 21-year-old will be leaned on heavily once again versus a susceptible Packers run defense in Week 7. Green Bay has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, which includes six rushing touchdowns allowed over their past four games. Look for the Raiders to keep the ball on the ground and in the hands of Jacobs, who owns a dominant 72% carry share over his backups Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington. He's also improved as a pass-catcher over his last two games, putting him a step closer to becoming a true bell-cow back. The first-round rookie is a firm RB2 ahead of Sunday's game with the potential to finish as an RB1 if he continues to get more involved in the passing game.
Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (quadriceps) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Gurley was not able to play last week but appears to have a chance to be active for Week 7. He should be a starting option if he plays, but fantasy players should have other options available in case Gurley misses another game.
Los Angeles Rams LB Clay Matthews (jaw) and CB Jalen Ramsey (non-injury) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said the goal is to have newly acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey (back) ready to play in Week 7 against the Falcons. Ramsey missed the last three games with the Jaguars before being dealt to the Rams this week to help shore up their secondary issues. If he makes his debut with LA this Sunday, he'd be tasked with shadowing and slowing down Falcons stud receiver Julio Jones. That'd be a downgrade to Jones' matchup, but he's still a must-start for fantasy purposes after going over 100 yards in a bounce-back game in Week 6. Against Atlanta's explosive offense, the Rams are off the streaming radar this weekend.
Free-agent WR Ryan Grant (Raiders) signed with the Green Bay Packers Wednesday, Oct. 16. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also released RB Tra Carson.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Rodgers is in no danger of missing the Week 7 game but may be without some of his pass catchers because of injuries. He can still be considered a starting option in all leagues.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones (shoulder) fully participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Jones had his four-game touchdown streak snapped last week and received only 11 carries during the game. He is still the main option in the running game and can be a No. 2 running back or flex option because of his touchdown potential.
Green Bay Packers S Darnell Savage (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 16. CB Tony M. Brown (hamstring) and TE Robert Tonyan (hip) were limited during practice. OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), LB Oren Burks (chest), DT Kenny Clark (calf), CB Kevin King (groin, knee), S Will Redmond (ankle, shoulder) and LB Za'Darius Smith (knee) fully participated in practice.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been arguably the best tight end in fantasy football since last season. He's continuing his strong play this season and should put together another solid game in Week 7. Kelce has a matchup against the Denver Broncos on Thursday night. Kelce has been heavily involved in the offense basically every single week. Fantasy owners can feel safe about Kelce being a top tier TE1 for Week 7 in Denver.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller will once again have a prominent role in the offense in Sunday's matchup versus the Green Bay Packers. He has far and away led the team through five games with 37 receptions and 359 yards, proving to be a reliable receiving option for quarterback Derek Carr who has largely favored his tight ends over the last two seasons. With Tyrell Williams questionable ahead of this weekend's contest, the air attack will funnel through Waller with the team likely playing from behind as seven-point underdogs. The 28-year-old has displayed a reliable floor and can be fired up as a TE1 for Week 7 as he's well past due to secure his first touchdown of the season.
Green Bay Packers WR Geronimo Allison (chest, concussion) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Allison will need to pass all of the concussion tests before he is cleared to play, so his status will not be known until later in the week. He has been more involved over the last few weeks but probably can be avoided in most leagues even if he plays.
Green Bay Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to check later in the week to see if Valdes-Scantling is in any danger of missing the Week 7 game. He has been held to under 50 yards in each of the last three games but still be a flex option in some leagues if he plays.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Graham was held to only 17 yards last week but could have a solid role in the passing game if he plays since the Packers have multiple injuries at receiver. He could be a possible low-end No. 1 tight end if he plays.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle had a huge Week 5 performance where he caught six passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. He saw eight targets during his huge Week 5 game, but then he was targeted just three times during the Week 6 loss to the Texans. It seems like that performance might have just been a fluke. Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson are all above Pringle on the depth chart. It's unlikely Pringle will get more than two or three targets with all those receivers healthy. He could be a desperation flex in deep leagues, but most fantasy owners should bench or drop Pringle. Most fantasy owners shouldn't bother with Pringle for the Week 7 matchup versus the Denver Broncos.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will have his work cut out for him this Sunday when his team travels to Green Bay to face the Packers. The veteran has done a commendable job managing games so far this season, proving to be a better real-life quarterback than in the fantasy game. Carr has surprisingly led his team to a 3-2 record on the season, but has yet to surpass 17 fantasy points in a single contest. His task will be even tougher this weekend if Tyrell Williams foot injury doesn't heal in time to face a Packers Defense that's currently giving up the seventh-fewest FPPG to the QB position. Carr can be safely ignored in all formats for Week 7 and for the foreseeable future.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay is coming off a very solid performance against the Green Back Packers on Monday Night Football in Week 6, but fantasy owners may want to temper expectations with the Minnesota Vikings coming to town in Week 7. The Vikings have allowed just one 100-yard receiver through the first six weeks of the season, and while fantasy owners will point to the 10 touchdowns allowed to wide receivers over that same time frame, a good chunk of those scores came in garbage time. The Lions haven't won in two weeks but have been playing very good football nonetheless, so extended garbage time looks may not be in store in this game. Slot Golladay in as a mid-range WR2 in this matchup.