Ryan Mathews was back at practice for the San Diego Chargers on Friday, giving the starting running back a good chance to take some carries in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos. He’ll likely have to do so without his starting left tackle, Jared Gaither, who has a groin injury and missed Week 10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mathews had 17 carries for 54 rushing yards and five catches for 22 yards against Tampa Bay, a middle-of-the-road fantasy football defense against opposing RBs. The Broncos have allowed two total touchdowns to running backs in Week 11, so Mathews’ scoreless streak may reach five games on Sunday.
If he plays, Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle are less attractive fantasy options by virtue of another mouth to feed in the San Diego backfield. Battle hasn’t taken more than four carries since Week 4. Brown, as the third-down back, has averaged 8.75 touches per game over the Chargers’ last four.
He hasn’t crossed the goal line yet this season, though.
The emergence of Danario Alexander (eight catches, 195 yards and a TD in his last two games) has allowed Malcom Floyd to enjoy two consecutive productive fantasy days. Floyd tallied 10 catches, 111 yards and two touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Champ Bailey should take him away on Sunday.
Tony Carter has played very well this season, but the 5’9” cornerback may have problems with the 6’5” Alexander. It wouldn’t be surprising for Alexander to have his third big game in a row, but he’ll have to compete with tight end Antonio Gates for targets.
Gates torched the Broncos in their first meeting, catching six passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6. He has four TDs in the Chargers’ last four contests. Gates’ quarterback, Philip Rivers, has struggled with turnovers lately but managed to avoid multiple giveaways in two of his last three games.
Against Denver, however, Rivers turned the ball over six times. His yardage and touchdown potential are massive with the weapons at his disposal, but his penchant for turning the ball over is problematic. Denver’s defense is a solid fantasy play in Week 11 because of that.
The Broncos offense should be a productive one against San Diego’s defense on Sunday. The Chargers have allowed at least one receiving touchdown to every opponent’s wide receiving corps this season except the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns.
Peyton Manning is a must-start, and if you count on Demaryius Thomas and/or Eric Decker, they should be fine options this week as well.
Willis McGahee was stifled against the Chargers in Week 6, gaining just 56 yards on 17 carries. He also caught four passes for 42 yards. McGahee’s only double-digit (ESPN standard-scoring) fantasy point games this season came against the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints—all top-seven matchups for fantasy running backs.
San Diego (20th) doesn’t fit that description.
While the Broncos can usually be counted on to fumble the football away—they’ve done so in all but one game this year—they have been a terrible matchup for opposing fantasy D/STs. Better options than San Diego’s D/ST are available in Week 11.
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