Ryan Mathews: How Sitting out Week 1 Impacts Fantasy Value and Chargers

Darin Pike@darinpikeContributor ISeptember 7, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18:   Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers runs through tackles for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during their NFL Game on December 18, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Ryan Mathews will miss at least one game for the third time in his three years in the NFL. Fantasy owners should have drafted him with a backup plan in mind, similar to the approach the San Diego Chargers took with him over the offseason.

Scott Bair of the North County Times is reporting that Mathews won't play in the Chargers' Monday night game against the Oakland Raiders. The team insinuated as much earlier in the week.

Ryan Mathews participated in portions of practice - but there is a long way to go before he suits up on game day. chrg.rs/NIA9Kn

— San Diego Chargers (@chargers) September 3, 2012

While the Chargers haven't officially ruled him out, he has not yet been cleared for contact. The odds of his first real hits coming against a hostile defense are about the same as the Chargers and Raiders meeting in the Super Bowl.

Rather, head coach Norv Turner said the Chargers will ease him back into contact.

I don't have a schedule. I will say that I love his attitude regarding the injury. He's doing everything possible to get back. He'd have to get the reps necessary to prepare for a game, and he's not at that point yet.

We're evaluating him and we'll see how it goes. We'd like to increase his activity each day. Hopefully things continue to go well and we can do that.

Depth was a major issue for the Chargers last season and GM A.J. Smith was determined to improve the quality of their reserves. He was active in free agency, signing a dozen quality, though not high-profile, players.

One of those was Ronnie Brown. While not as dynamic as Mathews, the 30-year-old runner should be able to carry the load in their opener.

Perhaps a bigger issue for the Chargers will be the absence of Jared Gaither and the subsequent domino-effect at left tackle. His backup, Brandyn Dombrowski, is out with a foot injury and the third-string left tackle was moved over a spot to start at guard.

This leaves Mike Harris, an undrafted rookie, starting at left tackle. 

Turner and Smith will hand the ball to Brown as needed, but fantasy owners with Mathews on the bench should look elsewhere for a replacement. 

One solid option is Robert Turbin. He's currently owned in just 3.6 percent of fantasy leagues on nfl.com, and will likely get a fair number of carries on Sunday.

Marshawn Lynch is day-to-day with back spasms and the Cardinals' run stoppers aren't as stout as their pass defense. Pete Carroll will likely rest Lynch as much as possible and give Turbin the majority of the carries.

Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch has experienced back spasms and team is uncertain whether he'll be able to play Sunday vs. Arizona.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 4, 2012