Ryan Mathews: Running Back Bound to Struggle in Debut Against Falcons

Steven GerwelContributor IIISeptember 22, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium on December 18, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Matthew fractured his collarbone during a preseason matchup with the Green Bay Packers and has been out ever since. 

Considering he ran for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, it was initially viewed as a major loss for the San Diego offense. 

Although, the Chargers have been able to pick up wins during the first two games of the season against Oakland and Tennessee, so the team has not suffered, even with the absence of their feature back. 

According the NFL News, the wait for both the Chargers and fantasy owners may be over, as Mathews is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. 


Ryan Mathews Fantasy Outlook 

If you're tempted to put Mathews in your fantasy lineup on Sunday, maybe you should first analyze your other options before pulling the trigger. 

For starters, quarterback Philip Rivers has been on the money. 

In Week 1, Rivers had 231 yards and a touchdown against Oakland, while putting up 284 yards and three touchdowns against Tennessee a week ago. 

Rivers had his struggles in 2011, but so far he seems to have regained his touch this season. As a result, it would not be surprising if San Diego puts the offense in Rivers' hands, which could mean less carries for Matthews. 

Also, we saw the Chargers run the ball only 19 times against Oakland for an embarrassing 34 yards. 

The lack of carries and yards is partially due to Mathews' absence, but those poor numbers are a strong reflection of San Diego's mediocre run blocking. 

The Chargers improved their run game the following week against Tennessee with 38 carries and 139 yards. However, the Chargers scored 17 unanswered points to start the game and had no need to throw the ball, which forced them to run. 

There's no guarantee that they'll show an equal commitment to the run against Atlanta, even with Mathews in the lineup. 

Not to mention, Mathews is surely still feeling the effects from the injury and has historically been a slow starter in his young career. 

For example, Mathews didn't have a 100-yard game until the season finale during his rookie year. And last season, it took until the fifth game for him to exceed 100 yards, and he didn't even exceed 65 yards until the third game. 

Since Mathews is coming off an injury and traditionally needs time to find his groove, he may not be the best fantasy option. 

If you don't have any solid alternatives at running back, then Mathews certainly isn't a terrible option. But you may want to avoid him if you have a choice.