Heading into the 2013 NFL season, San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers noted that fourth-year running back Ryan Mathews had been running with a sense of confidence. Mathews struggled a bit during the first half of the season, but seemed to regain his confidence in the second half. He finished the season with 285 rushing attempts and 1,255 yards, which were career-highs for him.
Also, he had six rushing touchdowns, which matched the second-highest total of his career. 2013 marked the first year in which Mathews played in all 16 games of the regular season.
After Mathews’ breakout season in 2013, fantasy owners will wonder if he can consistently put up the numbers that he posted this past year. The career-high in carries and yardage may look like promising numbers for fantasy owners, but his 4.4 yards per carry in 2013 among qualifying running backs with a minimum of 50 attempts ranks just outside the top 20 at no. 22.
In terms of rushing touchdowns, Mathews finished with six, which also puts him outside the top 20 in that category at the 23rd spot. Fantasy owners should notice the trend in the two most important categories in terms of fantasy football. Based on these statistics, it is clear that Mathews is not a top-20 running back.
Depending on how fantasy drafts play out, Mathews could be a decent option, but there are clearly better choices ahead of him heading into next season. In a PPR league, Mathews doesn’t have that much appeal as well due to Danny Woodhead solidifying his position as the preferred passing and third-down back for the Chargers. Owners should proceed with caution when thinking about drafting Mathews in 2014.