Fantasy Phobia 2013: Ryan Mathews

By Adam Pfeifer
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


Yes, another new series.

Come on, it’s almost time for the Fantasy season. The excitement is filling the air, as well as the Twitter feeds of everyone in the fantasy community. This series, I will highlight a different player in each article. These are guys that I am flat out afraid to have on my roster in 2013 for different reasons. Whether it be injury, character or just flat out stinking, these guys frighten me in fantasy.

And what do you know? Who else would we start with other than Ryan Mathews?

Let’s go inside the numbers from Mathews’ 2012 campaign, shall we? The number two, as in the number of broken clavicles Mathews dealt with last season. That number, that small number of two, was more than his touchdown total for that same season (1). Yikes. It wasn’t long ago that fantasy owners were thrilled to select Mathews in the late first round after a 1,000-yard, six-touchdown season. My sincerest condolences to all of you who wasted a top-12 pick in this guy. 2012 was a lost season for the Chargers back. He missed the first three games of the season after breaking one of his clavicles during the offseason. When he came back, fantasy owners probably wished he wasn’t. The guy averaged a measly 3.8 yards per carry and only rushed for 707 yards. He sometimes looked lost when out on the field.

Mathews appears to be made of glass. In his first three seasons as a pro, the 25-year old has missed 10 games. A very brittle guy, Mathews just can’t seem to stay on the field, but indicates he will try to avoid fighting for extra yards. Sorry, but that’s not the type of rusher I plan on investing a fantasy pick on. While the injury concerns have been the main red flag for his fantasy value, it certainly isn’t the only reason I’m afraid to draft him this year. Sure, he is a former number twelve overall pick, but bottom line is, Mathews just hasn’t looked very good. His 1,000-yard season from 2011 appears to be an outlier, considering he rushed for less than 720 yards in his other two seasons. Also, from a fantasy perspective, Mathews posted a miserable 0.39 fantasy points per opportunity (via Pro Football Focus). From going back and watching some film, often times I’ve noticed that Mathews looks quite indecisive when looking for a hole to burst through. Having fumbled 11 times in three years, ball security has also been an issue, and has even landed him in the doghouse at times. And how about the Chargers current personnel? Last year, it was a bit concerning to see Ronnie Brown easily take over as the third down back. Fast forward to this offseason and not only did the team bring in an ideal third down option in Danny Woodhead, but they still hung onto Brown. This means that Mathews will never see the field on third down plays and perhaps the Chargers just aren’t very confident in their number one back. New head coach Mike McCoy has spoken very highly of Woodhead, and stated that he will be a big part of the offense this year. General manager Tom Telesco stated that the team is “expecting big things from him [Woodhead] this year.” If Mathews goes down again, I could 100 percent see San Diego sticking with Woodhead and Brown the rest of the way.

Now I understand that running back is particularly shallow this year. Mathews obviously has talent, and his current ADP (5.07) may be looked at as good value to take a shot on a guy like him. However, there are simply more proven and more durable guys around him that I’d much rather have, rather than taking a shot in the dark with Mathews. I’m staying away this year.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

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