San Diego Chargers running backs now have zero value to fantasy owners. They are locked in a thick running-back-by-committee status, and that isn't going away.
This developing reality is a big blow to fantasy owners who spent a high pick on third-year back Ryan Mathews and those looking to score a waiver-wire gem with backup Jackie Battle.
Mathews entered this year off a season where he went for over 1,000 yards on the ground and added six touchdowns. With the offseason departure of Mike Tolbert, whom Mathews had been sharing time with, it appeared like he was ready to build upon those numbers.
However, Mathews has been undone by two problems that have marred his short career: injuries and fumbles.
Mathews was injured on his first carry of the preseason. That led to him missing the first two games of the season, and when he made his debut in Week 3, he had a costly fumble against the Falcons.
And all of that led to what we saw in the Chargers' Week 4 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
As Rotoinfo.com points out, "Jackie Battle led the Chargers in offensive snaps on Sunday with 27, compared to Ryan Mathews' 21 and Ronnie Brown's 14."
With 61 yards, Mathews was the Chargers' leading rusher in that game, but Battle had more carries and he was clearly the preferred option in goal-line settings. Another telling stat here is that Battle had twice as many catches, targets and yards in the passing game.
There are several factors going into the touch distribution last week. Battle was going against the team he played for last season, and coach Norv Turner may have been riding a supremely motivated player while also sending a message to Mathews.
The Chargers played with the lead all game on Sunday, and they had plenty of touches to give to backs. So I certainly wouldn't rush to jump on the Battle bandwagon, as he will be an inconsistent producer all year.
And while that may lead to Mathews getting a bigger share of touches in the future, he is not suddenly going to go back to being a featured back. If he has another fumble or injury, he will find himself even more glued to the bench.
So, when it comes to Ryan Mathews, executive producer of the Late Show with David Letterman and obvious fantasy football enthusiast Eric Stangel knows the score on Mathews' fantasy value.
BREAKING: Ryan Mathews just dropped himself from his own fantasy team... #chargers— Eric Stangel (@EricStangel) September 30, 2012
Norv Turner trusts Ryan Mathews just enough to destroy Battle's fantasy value, but not enough to make Mathews a strong commodity.