Fantasy Football: Why The Signing Of RB Donald Brown Hurts RB Ryan Mathews

By Jack Delaney
Ryan Mathews Fantasy Football Value
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The backfield for the Indianapolis Colts is currently a mess, but with the San Diego Chargers signing Donald Brown, the fantasy value of Ryan Mathews is in serious trouble.

Mathews first became relevant for fantasy owners in 2011 with 1,091 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, four games with 100 or more rushing yards and 455 receiving yards. In 2012, Mathews struggled with injuries and only was able to score one rushing touchdown. Fantasy players have a hard time trusting this San Diego running back, and I can’t blame them. Mathews has only completed one full season in his four years in the NFL, and he has two seasons where he only played 12 games.

By 2013, fantasy owners of Mathews had enough with his roller-coaster seasons, and running backs like Montee Ball and Lamar Miller were generally drafted higher than the injury-prone back. With the help of Danny Woodhead to change the pace of the game, Mathews was able to compile his best season ever. He quietly tied with Fred Jackson as a top-10 running back in standard scoring leagues, and he was able to rush for 1,255 yards, score six rushing touchdowns, rush for 100 yards or more in six games and he averaged 78.4 rushing yards per game.

Woodhead was able to maintain a spot in the offense while still letting Mathews lead the team, but the addition of Brown is not good news for fantasy football players eyeing up Mathews in their drafts in August. Mathews sometimes seems to be his own worst enemy, and the addition of Brown will could cause him to lose his confidence.

If the Chargers role with the hot hand, this could end up as a very messy backfield for fantasy football purposes. I always avoided the rushing committee of the New Orleans Saints with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram, and the Chargers may join that category of committees that fantasy players should avoid.

Even if Brown is an insurance policy, this move has instantly lowered the fantasy value of Mathews. Keep an eye on how things develop in training camp, but this is a former top-10 back that you should lower your expectations for heading into the 2014 season.

Jack Delaney is a fantasy football writer for You can follow him on Twitter @jackbmore13, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google

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