Jackie Battle: Why San Diego Chargers RB Deserves to Start over Ryan Mathews

Phil GCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Jackie Battle #44 of the San Diego Chargers waits for a play in the backfield during the game against the Tennessee Titans at Qualcomm Stadium on September 16, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Who is Jackie Battle? Well, if you follow fantasy football, he could be the angel that saves your season. 

In relative football terms, Battle will be known as the starting running back alongside quarterback Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers

The fifth-year pro will replace former first-round selection Ryan Mathews in the Chargers backfield. But the question many hope to answer, is why did Norv Turner bench Ryan Mathews in favor of Battle? 



Anyone who knows Ryan Mathews, or unfortunately selected him high in their fantasy drafts (yes, there are many of you), understands this kid can't stay healthy. 

Mathews was injury prone at Fresno State and continues this habit (though it is no fault of his own) in the pros. 

As the 12th overall selection of the 2010 NFL Draft, Mathews has been a huge disappointment. How can the Chargers brass expect continuity with the offense when a huge part of the offense is questionable to play on a week-to-week basis?

On the other hand, Jackie Battle, who weighs in at 240 pounds, is a block of steel. His body is built to last the rigors of the NFL season. 

Mathews, who weighs 20 pounds lighter than Battle, is a walking crutch. 


Talent vs. Fit

Look, I'm not here to say Jackie Battle is more talented than Ryan Mathews. That would be absurd, and as Skip Bayless of ESPN would say, "asinine, asiten, asieleven..."

But in terms of fit, I think Battle is the better starter. Mathews shouldn't be completely ignored in this offense, but I like him more as a situational rusher in this offense. 

With Battle, you get consistent production. He can play as your goal-line back and every-down back. Battle can catch out of the backfield, and most importantly, he can block. 

Mathews is learning to become a more complete running back, but his blocking skills need work. 

In third-down situations, Matthews would be a nice fit. It puts less wear and tear on his legs and takes advantage of his ability to be a receiver out of the backfield. 



In two games this season, Mathews has recorded only one fumble (didn't play in Week 1 or 2). All critics have talked about is his fumbling issues this season. Having only fumbled it once, it maybe shouldn't cause this much of a distraction, but think again.

Mathews is a fumbler at heart. In 2011, Mathews fumbled the ball five times. I repeat, five times. In his rookie season, Mathews fumbled four times.

In his career, Mathews has fumbled a total of 10 times. Who would start a running back that can't hold the ball?

Its no wonder GM A.J. Smith made those remarks about Mathews.

On the other hand, Jackie Battle has never fumbled the ball once in his entire career. Granted, he wasn't the main focus on offense in his previous four years with the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, Jackie Battle did carry the ball nearly 150 times last season without fumbling. The guy has steel hands. 

Who knows how long Norv Turner decides to sit Ryan Matthews. But for right now, Battle is the right choice on the field, and in your fantasy lineup.