Cue the jokes regarding Ryan Mathews being injured.
But seriously, concussions are no joke, and Mathews had actually been running the ball well this season. Hopefully he can get back out there soon. However, while it’s bad news for Mathews owners, it is terrific news for those with stock in Danny Woodhead. Woodhead was in the must-add category last week in my waiver wire column, but with the news that Mathews has suffered a concussion, he’s entered new found territory. I like to call it “Get Woodhead Or Die Trying.”
Catchy, isn’t it?
Whether or not Mathews will miss an extended period of time really doesn’t matter. During Sunday night’s (morning’s?) game, Woodhead received the first few carries of the game anyway. Not to mention that even when Mathews was on the field, Woodhead was the one to see the work at the goal line. Of course, what really makes him valuable is his work in the passing game, but the Mathews concussion should allow Woodhead to see an uptick in carries as well, which will only boost his value. Through five games this season, Woodhead has less carries (28) than receptions (31). In fact, he has caught 31 of his 36 targets, which ranks him 9th in the NFL in receptions. No running backs have seen more targets in the passing game, and in this offense, he should continue to lead the pack.
We all know that Philip Rivers doesn’t exactly chuck the ball downfield anymore. In fact, he is one of six quarterbacks this year to have more than half of their passes travel less than five yards, which is prime real estate for Woodhead. Also, head coach Mike McCoy has a history of utilizing his running backs in the passing game quite a bit. Last year with Denver, his running backs were targeted 14.4 percent of the time, and the year before that, 18.4 percent. Meanwhile, the Chargers offensive line isn’t exactly the best, and Rivers has been known to check it down to his backs over the years. San Diego running backs were targeted a whopping 30 percent of the time a season ago. This season, Woodhead has already been targeted on 36 of Rivers’ 192 passes, which is more than any other player on the San Diego offense not named Antonio Gates.
I know, I know. He’s probably owned in pretty much all leagues. However, only 70 percent of Yahoo! users have Woodhead owned right now, so he is out there if you look hard enough. And even when Mathews returns, the numbers and usage show that Woodhead is going to remain a focal point of this offense.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.