RB Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
HT: 6-0, WT: 218, Born: 5-1-1987, College: Fresno State, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 12
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Average draft position
Current as of May 21st. [Full ADP list]Overall: C Kaepernick (49), L Miller (50), Ryan Mathews (51), H Nicks (52), J Witten (53)
Position: D Sproles (42-RB21), L Miller (50-RB22), Ryan Mathews (51 - RB23), M Ball (56-RB24), V Ballard (57-RB25)
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PPR Average draft position
Current as of May 21st. [Full PPR ADP list]Overall: R Wayne (48), H Nicks (49), Ryan Mathews (50), M Ryan (51), E Decker (52)
Position: D Wilson (37-RB20), R Bush (41-RB21), Ryan Mathews (50 - RB22), L Miller (58-RB23), V Ballard (60-RB24)
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The Chargers traded up to get Ryan Mathews in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, but he has mostly disappointed his fantasy owners so far. When he is healthy, he has an outstanding combination of power, speed, and balance. His straigth-line speed gives him big-play ability, and the 2011 season (when he finished as the seventh-best fantasy RB despite missing a few games due to injury) demonstrates his upside potential when things are going well. Unfortunately, Mathews has struggled in pass protection, which limits his playing time to mostly just the early downs, and he has also proven injury-prone thus far. Last season, for example, he broke one collarbone during the preseason, and then another toward the end of the regular season. As a result, he finished the 2012 season with more broken collarbones than touchdowns -- which is unhelpful in most scoring systems. Despite his physical talent and upside potential, the risk associated with Mathews makes him a low-end fantasy RB2 this season.
|2||at Philadelphia Eagles|
|3||at Tennessee Titans|
|5||at Oakland Raiders|
|7||at Jacksonville Jaguars|
|9||at Washington Redskins|
|11||at Miami Dolphins|
|12||at Kansas City Chiefs|
|14||New York Giants|
|15||at Denver Broncos|
|17||Kansas City Chiefs|
2012 Game Summaries
Week 3 - Mathews made his season debut after missing the first two games while recovering from a broken collarbone. Norv Turnerís stated goal was to get Mathews around fifteen total touches for the game, and he nailed that number exactly. Mathews showed no ill effects from the injury, and in fact seemed to invite contact at every possible occasion. His first touch of the game was a catch out in the flat. He lowered his shoulder and absorbed a big hit from the defender while running through the tacklers. All game long, Mathews ran hard and nearly always lowered the shoulder to deliver some punishing hits of his own. On one occasion, however, he tried to do a bit too much. He took a handoff up the middle and tried picking up extra yardage but fumbled the ball away to the Falcons inside the five yard line. On the next play following the fumble, he was targeted on a desperation pass from Rivers, so the team didnít go away from him or anything. Still, this isnít the first problem heís had with turning the ball over near the goal line. And with as good as Jackie Battle looked last week at the goal line and the decision to give goal line duties to Mike Tolbert last year, one has to be leery of how many goal line carries Mathews has in the near future. Mathews appeared strong and ran hard, and definitely provided more of a spark than the rushers theyíve trotted out in recent weeks; he just didnít get a great deal of work because the deficit was so high for much of the contest.
Week 4 - This was supposed to be a breakout game of sorts for Mathews, who missed the first two games of the season recovering from a fractured clavicle. He was eased back into action a week ago with fifteen touches, and most people felt the Chargers would take the training wheels off this week and let Mathews do his thing. Instead, he found himself on the bench to start the game while Jackie Battle was in the starting lineup. Earlier in the week, San Diego GM A.J. Smith made comments that were critical of Mathews and his inability to protect the football. Perhaps this was some sort of punishment or motivational ploy, but either way it was curious that it lasted the entire game. Battle didnít just start the game; he was the guy throughout. Mathews never even made it into the game on the teamís opening possession, and when the team got near the goal line it was all Battle, all the time. It wasnít until late in the game that Mathews was given regular work, and he responded with more rushing yards on San Diegoís final possession than Battle accumulated throughout the entire game. Mathewsí first touch of the game was a reception in the flat where he got a head of steam and burst through the hole, fighting for extra yardage (but with two hands on the ball to protect it). Soon after, he was given a rushing attempt and met in the backfield almost immediately by the defender. It was a minor miracle that he didnít fumble that one away too. On San Diegoís final possession, Mathews carried the ball six times for 42 yards (though he was stuffed for no gain on a third and 1 carry to end the drive). It will be interesting to see if San Diego plans on going back to Mathews as the every down back like they said they would, or if Battle has carved out at least a goal line/short yardage role similar to what the Chargers had last season with Mike Tolbert.
Week 5 - Ryan Mathews may not have started this game, but he quickly put Jackie Battle on the bench once he was introduced. Mathews ran hard and intelligently while looking after the football and being a dangerous receiver. Matthews' first carry went outside left tackle as he was instantly into the secondary for a big gain. He followed that play with a good catch on a low screen pass that went for nine yards. Mathews was showing good vision and getting the most out of the space he was afforded on every single play. He showed a variety of explosion, physicality, technique and patience throughout the game. He was particularly impressive running off the edges and scored his touchdown on one of those runs. In the redzone, the Saints were pushing the left side of the Chargers line backwards where Mathews was initially attacking. Mathews adjusted to loop outside of his tackle and used his acceleration to get the edge. He then leaped over a weak attempted tackle from safety Malcolm Jenkins to fall into the endzone. Mathews was cutting up the Saints running the ball, but he also showed off his ability as a receiver. At one point he lined up on the outside, caught the ball in the flat before skipping past a cornerback and running down the sideline for a first down and 10 yards. Mathews was on his own in space, so the cornerback had no chance of stopping him. He had six catches on the day. All of them came underneath with him carrying the ball forward. The plays were essentially extended running plays that put him in space against inferior defenders.
Week 6 - Unlike previous weeks, Mathews was the workhorse back for San Diego in this game. He had 22 of the teamís 27 rushing attempts, and the Chargers fed him early and often. Unfortunately for Mathews owners, he was unable to find daylight for most of the evening. The Broncos defenders repeatedly beat him to the edge on toss plays and there were a lot of negative yardage runs on the night. Early in the second half, Mathews had a hole up the middle and looked to be headed for a huge gain but he was barely tripped up just as he hit the hole. There were a couple of occasions where it appeared he was one miss away from taking it the distance. Late in the game, it was reported that he was being stretched out on the sideline during a commercial break, but he came back in for the next carry. About the only negative is that Ronnie Brown is still the teamís third down running back at this point, and was in the game on the teamís final drives as they tried to come back. Overall it was an encouraging performance by Mathews because it shows that he is going to get the vast majority of the workload, but his offensive line is going to have to do a better job in run blocking if he wants to turn any of those attempts into fantasy production.
Week 8 - Mathews got a lot of early work, and the Chargers are making a clear effort to get Mathews into a good rhythm. Unfortunately for Mathews, there hasnít been much room to run for him to this point. He is pounding the ball and picking up yardage wherever possible, but the long gains and game-breaking rush opportunities just simply havenít been there. Even more unfortunately for Mathews, he came off the field on nearly every third down situation. Backup Ronnie Brown did well in his stead, but it stands to reason that Mathews would have at least done as much as Brown had he remained in the game. Perhaps most unfortunately for Mathews, he lost the football on a first half carry wide to the right. Mathews has had fumbling issues in the past and was even benched at times due to the fumbling, though in this game he remained in following the fumble and actually got the next carry the team had on the ensuing possession. Mathews looked pretty good in the second half, running hard and rarely going down on first contact.
Week 9 - Mathewsí maddening fantasy campaign continued in this game. On a night where he had a juicy matchup against an overmatched defense, he managed just 72 total yards (31 of which came on one big run) and he was constantly rotated in and out of the game for different matchup packages. The San Diego offensive line is still doing a poor job of opening up holes for Mathews. Nearly half of his yardage came on the aforementioned 31-yard scamper. Even on that play, he was met in the backfield by a number of defenders. He simply took a step back, regrouped, and took off up the left side for a big gain. But those plays have not really been there too often for Mathews, and a lot of that has to do with himself. He often comes off the field on his own, such as when he came up limping slightly late in the first half. One has to assume the coaching staff sees this and feels the need to protect him by keeping him out in certain packages (third down, short yardage, etc). Without the third down plays, his receiving numbers will be kept low. And without the short yardage situations, his touchdown total will never be very high. And in todayís NFL, it is difficult to be a fantasy RB1 based simply on rushing yardage and little else. With the Chargers up by so much late in the game, HC Norv Turner didnít even risk a possible injury to Mathews on the garbage time possession, instead opting to run out the clock with Jackie Battle and Ronnie Brown.
Week 10 - Mathews is in real danger of having essentially a lost season, both from a real life and fantasy perspective. He totaled a somewhat adequate 76 yards from scrimmage in this game, but did not record a single play over ten yards. He didnít find much room to run, and the Chargers never really made it a focal point to get him very involved in the gameplan.
Week 11 - It always seems like Mathews isnít getting a big workload, but at the end of the game you look up and heís got pushing 20 touches (19 in this one). The problem is that he just doesnít do much with them. There is very little room in the running game, and Mathews just doesnít look to be running as hard as he did a season ago. There was rarely a time that he didnít push the pile forward, but now he seems to be taken down on first contact with regularity unless he bounces it outside. This could explain why he was more effective in the passing game where he has some space to work with. He tied for second among all players with four receptions and he actually broke off a couple of decent gains. The problems are that they donít happen with enough frequency, and also when he finally does pick up a decent gain he immediately heads to the sideline for a rest. For very obvious reasons, it is very tough to get a rhythm going when you are in and out of the game every two plays.
Week 12 - Mathews was a workhorse early on and did end up getting 22 total offensive touches in the game, but he once again was unable to really get anything going. He averaged less than four yards per carry, with a long of just 10 yards. He appeared to be running hard and moved the pile on a couple of occasions, but the opportunities simply werenít there to bust very many big gains.
Week 13 - The Chargers ran 59 offensive plays in this game. Of those 59, 48 of them were pass plays and two of them were scrambles by Philip Rivers on plays that were supposed to be passes. Which means the Chargers, in a game where neither team ever trailed by more than one score, opted to throw the ball on 85% of its offensive plays. With a unit that has been horribly inefficient for the season. If that doesnít show what kind of faith HC Norv Turner has in his rushing unit, I donít know what does. Mathews was uninspiring with the ball in his hands, averaging less than three yards per carry on the ground. He was a little bit better through the air, but thatís not saying much as he caught just three passes in the game. With Ronnie Brown still handling the third down duties and the Chargers choosing to abandon the running game so early, Mathews will be hard-pressed to ever pick up big yardage totals anytime soon.
Week 14 - Rarely will you see a more nondescript 25-carry game than the one Mathews turned in. Despite the lack of success running the ball, the Chargers were able to stick with it because they had such a big lead. His longest gain of the afternoon (9 yards) came on his very first carry, and he never did break any big ones downfield. But he did just enough to keep the Chargers in some manageable down and distance situations that they kept going to him. On a couple of occasions, he did a nice job of beating Pittsburgh defenders to the edge and turning it upfield for a decent gain. As usual, he got a good-sized workload but there just wasnít much room. He did come relatively close to scoring, picking up a head of steam for a 7-yard gain to the 3-yard line but was stopped short by Pittsburgh defenders.
Week 15 - The nightmarish season continued for Mathews, and in fact his season may have simultaneously ended. Mathews looked pretty good early on, showing a nice burst on a couple of rushes up the middle. He was finding some room inside, displaying some elusiveness that we havenít seen much of so far. In addition to averaging over five yards per carry, he even had some decent involvement in the passing game due to the absence of Ronnie Brown. But despite all the positives, postgame reports are that Mathews reportedly broke his left collarbone early in the game (had had previously broken his right collarbone in the preseason). It is assumed that Mathews will miss the rest of the season.