Jackie Battle: Why Ryan Mathews Is Better Fantasy Option Than Chargers Starter

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IOctober 4, 2012

Sep 22, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) walks off the field after the Atlanta Falcons beat the Chargers 27-3 at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Jackie Battle is listed as the San Diego Chargers starting running back, but that doesn't mean Ryan Mathews is a less viable fantasy option. 

Firstly, though Battle has played admirably while Mathews has been brought back slowly from a broken clavicle, his distinction as the team's starter isn't exactly a ringing endorsement. 

According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, a team spokesman said the following regarding Battle's starting role: 

Team spokesman on why Battle listed No. 1 RB ahead of Mathews on online depth chart: "He just started last week, so that's why he's there."

— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) October 3, 2012

An odd explanation, right?

Not one heard often, that's for sure. 

Gehlken went on to give his opinion on the matter, which should provide Mathews' owners a much-needed sigh of relief.

Wouldn't read into it. Chargers confident in Mathews. Likely only matter of time before he's the guy ahead of Battle, who'll stay involved.

— Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) October 3, 2012

No, Battle won't be completely phased out of the offense and because he's a bigger back than Mathews, he could still garner those ever-valuable goal-line carries. 

But don't be shocked if Mathews actually receives more carries than Battle in Week 5 and beyond. 

Against the New Orleans Saints, a defense that's allowing more than 186 yards on the ground per game, a talented speed and power runner like Mathews should have a huge afternoon. 

Mathews got 15 touches in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons and 16 carries in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs

Battle actually received more touches (19) last week, but he averaged a pedestrian 2.6 yards per carry while Mathews averaged 4.4 yards per rush. 

For as productive as Battle is capable of being as a downhill runner, Mathews is simply a more dynamic and talented back.

This Sunday's matchup against the league's worst run defense has "coming out party" written all over it for Mathews, a player who's looking to re-earn is starting gig.