San Diego Chargers

Ryan Mathews: Fantasy Owners Must Recognize Chargers Star Is Trap Player

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers rushes up field against pressure from linebacker Derrick Johnson #56 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the fourth quarter on September 30, 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  San Diego defeated Kansas City 37-20.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIOctober 5, 2012

When Ryan Mathews is right, he is a productive player. However, he hasn't stayed healthy. This is the dynamic that makes him a trap player.

Fantasy owners can be duped by a player's reputation or past performance. If you own Mathews, or are strongly considering picking him up, take note of the time the Chargers running back has spent on the shelf.

Through just under two-and-a-half seasons, he has already missed eight games. This season, he broke his collarbone in the first game of the preseason. He did return in Week 3, but he didn't make a huge impact.

He rushed for 44 yards and caught five passes for 32 yards. Conventional wisdom would say that sounds like a guy who is ready to explode.

Were we not talking about Mathews, I'd probably agree.

I love his talent as a runner, his ability to make plays out of the backfield and his heart. However, Mathews is beginning to look like a player that will battle injuries his entire career.

This is the NFL. Any player can be injured on any play. However, on average, Mathews has missed about a quarter of the games he's been eligible to play in.

If you add in the bye week, that comes to about five weeks per season that you're likely to be without him. This is fantasy football, so you have to play the numbers and the trends. Fantasy owners must also ask themselves if the potential pay-off is worth it.

In 2011, Mathews rushed for 1091 yards and scored six times on the ground. He also caught 50 passes for 455 yards. These are decent numbers, but not enough to qualify him as a superstar running back.

If you have Mathews on your team, I'd proceed with caution and ready the reserves. If you don't have him, and he's available, don't confuse him with a stud—at least not for an extended period.

The numbers say he's due to miss at least two more games, plus the bye week this season.


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