WR Rishard Matthews, Free agent
HT: 6-0, WT: 217, Born: 10-12-1989, College: Nevada, Drafted: Round 7
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At one point this offseason, it appeared Rishard Matthews might have the inside track on the slot position, but recently the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero reported that Matthews was out of favor with the coaching staff. Once the team had drafted Jarvis Landry, the writing was on the wall. Matthews is a solid slot receiver, with good hands and the ability to run a sharp route, but there is a lot of traffic in the way of him sticking in Miami. If he makes the cut, he's worth watching in the up-tempo offense the Dolphins want to run, but remains bench depth at best for fantasy teams.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 3 - Matthews’ four catch, four-target day might be a bit misleading, as he provided that production on just 14 snaps. Matthews was impressive with his play, making multiple plays on the final drive, and breaking a few tackles to pickup a few extra yards along the way. It does look like he is the direct backup to Hartline and Wallace, so if either were to miss time, he may get the snaps in two wide receiver sets. However, he still needs an injury to have a direct line at some quality playing time.
Week 8 - Matthews has been used to playing in 4-wide sets so far this season, but with Brandon Gibson’s knee injury, he stepped into the #3 receiver void yesterday. Throughout the first half and into the third quarter, Matthews really only played about 15 snaps, as the Dolphins decided to use two tight-end sets to run the ball with the lead. Once they were down at the end of the third and fourth quarter, Matthews finally saw the field more, finishing with 37 snaps overall. Matthews did pickup the Gibson-type role, seeing 6 targets in the passing game, securing 3 of them. A few of the incompletions were just a matter of miscommunications, as these two likely haven’t spent a ton of time playing together in practice. Matthews will be an interesting pickup as a bye week WR if he indeed is playing the same role as Gibson. However, the Dolphins may look to add a receiver more suited to play in the slot, because that fits what they’re doing more.
Week 9 - Matthews was a popular candidate to step in and see Brandon Gibson level for production in the wake of Gibson’s season-ending injury. Matthews ran 25 pass routes and received 4 targets, so it will likely take a few weeks for Matthews and Tannehill to develop the chemistry needed to be a viable target. Additionally, the Dolphins’ run game is rolling right now, so Matthews losing snaps to Michael Egnew, Dion Sims and an extra offensive lineman is something that Mike Sherman and company might employ for the foreseeable future. Even with Dion Sims sitting out last night, Matthews didn’t see the snap load Gibson was seeing. He may work up to seeing 50+ snaps eventually, but for now, until he proves otherwise, it’s best to leave him on the waiver wire.
Week 10 - Rishard Matthews matched his entire season catch and yardage total on Monday night, in addition to catching the first two touchdown catches of his career. After struggling to gain a real role in the Dolphins’ offense since Brandon Gibson’s season ending knee injury, Matthews exploded onto the fantasy scene with easily his career best performance. With Darrelle Revis matched up on Mike Wallace all night, and the sieve of an offensive line doing very little to deter Gerald McCoy and company, Tannehill locked onto his slot receiver to the tune of 14 targets. Matthews was seeing very soft coverage, as the Bucs often shaded free safety Dashon Goldson towards Matthews, but played him about 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Matthews had no problem coming out of his in and out breaking routes and catching simple passes. His first TD was a simple pitch and catch from 6 yards out near the end of the first half. The Bucs essentially forgot to cover him, that’s nothing new from the Bucs this season. His second touchdown was a bit more impressive. With Goldson playing off coverage yet again, Tannehill whipped a perfect pass on a wide receiver screen, leading Matthews towards a block from Brian Hartline and right into pay dirt.
While Matthews is sure to be a hot commodity on the waiver wire this week, expectations need to be tempered a bit. Revis blanketed Wallace, and the Dolphins still want their big free agent pickup to function as a #1 wide receiver, even though he might not be playing like it. On the plus side for fantasy owners, the offensive line isn’t about to make a drastic turnaround. Additionally, Brandon Gibson was getting red zone looks before he went down for the season. Matthews seems like one of those players that will put up huge numbers on the bench and throw up duds when in the starting lineup, but he’s certainly worth an add at this point in the season.
Week 11 - Rishard Matthews followed up his huge 11/120/2 game on Monday Night Football with a respectable line on 6 targets. Matthews played 57 out of 66 snaps, which is easily the highest percentage he’s played this season. That probably had something to do with the game plan the Dolphins had going into the game, but it’s a positive sign for Matthews’ value over the rest of the season. Ryan Tannehill will always look to his slot receivers, and increasingly, he’s been looking for them in the red zone. Matthews received another target from inside the 20, catching ball near the 5, but coming up short of the end zone. Additionally, Matthews has flashed some after the catch ability. Ryan Tannehill is very good with his ball placement on his short throws, which allows a guy like Matthews to hit his stride as he’s catching the ball. Then, he can takeoff, chewing up yards as he goes. With the Dolphins, it’s always difficult to predict a game plan, so fantasy owners are always risking disaster, but, especially in PPR leagues, he is on the radar as a WR3, especially with the final week of byes rolling through in Week 12.
Week 12 - With the Dolphins very much leaning on a pass heavy attack against the stout Carolina defensive front, Rishard Matthews continued to see the bulk of the snaps, playing 55 in all. He also saw the second most targets on the team behind Mike Wallace, with 7. However, it wasn’t his day, finding it tough going in the middle of the field against the likes of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, who jammed up the area of the field he likes to work. The Panthers weren’t fooled on the wide receiver screens that the Dolphins ran for Matthews either, losing yardage on both of them. On the bright side, Matthews did receive another red zone target, but let a potential touchdown slip through his hands. He’s likely going to be very inconsistent down the stretch, especially with Mike Wallace possibly finding his game. He should be owned in most leagues, but it would be tough to start him going forward.
Week 13 - The Dolphins’ slot receiver took a backseat and was a distant fourth in targets to Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Charles Clay on Sunday, seeing just three targets from Ryan Tannehill. On a day in which the Dolphins were having no trouble getting open against a porous New York secondary, one of their top targets was likely to see a few less targets. It wasn’t as if Matthews was getting locked down either. He usually saw a linebacker or oft-burned slot corner Kyle Wilson in coverage, but Miami was having an easier time finding Charles Clay or one of their outside receivers open. Additionally, Matthews couldn’t really get on the field in the second half, as the Dolphins logically went to more two tight end sets nursing a lead for most of the second half. He played in just over half of the offensive snaps for the Dolphins as well, his lowest percentage since assuming the slot role for an injured Brandon Gibson in Week 8. Such is the life for most slot receivers in the league. Game flow dictated that Matthews should be on the sideline for much of the second half, and while Matthews figures to see the field plenty against teams like the Steelers and Patriots in the coming weeks, Mike Sherman and the coaching staff could switch it up and lean on a multiple tight end attack. Matthews was always going to be a desperation fantasy play, and owners would truly have to be desperate to use him in the playoffs.
Week 14 - Rishard Matthews didn’t start the game, but still played 43 out of 62 snaps on the offense. However, he didn’t come into many targets in this one, as Charles Clay ate up the middle of the field for the Dolphins. It’s positive that he still saw 43 snaps, as the Dolphins seem very content to play with 11 personnel for most of the game. However, in game in which Mike Wallace couldn’t get going, you’d hope Matthews could pick up some of the slack and see more than two targets. He couldn’t, and at this point, fantasy owners would be better served using the end of their bench for higher upside plays.
Week 15 - In what’s become routine in Miami, it was Rishard Matthews’ turn for a good game against the Patriots. With 4 viable pass catchers in Wallace, Hartline, Matthews, and Charles Clay, the second year player from Nevada had been taking a backseat to the other three in recent games, but came up big for his team on Sunday with some big catches. Bill Belichick decided that he was going to takeaway Charles Clay, which he did well, but that left Matthews to take advantage of the likes of Logan Ryan in the slot. Aqib Talib moved around, matching up with just about every receiver the Dolphins had to offer. But, Tannehill was smart, targeted Talib just 4 times, and was able to take advantage of the other matchups that were offered to him. Matthews’ biggest play was on a corner route against Logan Ryan late in the second quarter to kickstart a scoring drive for the Dolphins. It was a perfectly thrown ball, but Matthews showed good concentration to follow the ball in and secure the pass on a crucial third down. If he doesn’t come up with the catch, the Pats would’ve had about a minute and 3 timeouts to go down the field and add to their 10-0 lead before the half.
Week 16 - Rishard Matthews’ on-again, off-again fantasy production continued as he saw just two targets from Ryan Tannehill in Sunday’s game. Due to the fact that the Dolphins just couldn’t move the ball, and Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Charles Clay soaked up 28 of the 32 targets in the game, Matthews wasn’t able to make an impact. That’s been the story for Matthews since his 11-catch, 2-touchdown breakout performance on Monday Night Football against the Bucs. With three viable targets all ahead of him competing for looks, Matthews is a non-factor all too often. It’s unclear what his role might be next season with Brandon Gibson recovering from his knee injury, but Matthews is an intriguing prospect. For a bigger target, he’s plays in the slot very well, and has shown after-the-catch ability. He’s not likely to be a player to target in fantasy drafts next season, but he’s a player to keep on the radar.
Week 17 - Matthews stepped into the #2 receiver role when Brian Hartline left with an injury, and subsequently led the Dolphins in receiving on Sunday. Matthews left at least one catch for a big chunk of yardage on the table, dropping an important third down pass that would’ve gone for a first down. It was one of those taking your eyes off the ball before catching it plays, but it was a crucial drop, ending a potential scoring threat for the Dolphins, who were struggling for big plays the entire game. Matthews stepped in very nicely for Brandon Gibson after the latter went down earlier in the season. Just a second year player, Matthews would be a candidate to receive more playing time next season, but Wallace, Hartline, and Gibson are all expected back with the club. The second-year pro out of Nevada could start the season as the #4 receiver, but with injuries always playing a role, he’ll have the opportunity to move up on the depth chart.