Ryan Mathews: Complete Fantasy Profile & Draft Strategy

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 2, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium on December 18, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL season is nearly here, which means fantasy football drafts are in full swing. 

For those of you in need of a running back, you may be eyeing Ryan Mathews of the San Diego Chargers as a possible candidate for your team. 

This profile will tell you everything you need to know about the Chargers running back and give you a clear idea of whether to draft him or not, and if so, when and where to draft him. 

When to Pick: Round 3-4

According to the draft central on Yahoo, Ryan Mathews is being drafted 100 percent of the time. The average round is 1.7 (mainly the first round, but frequently in the second as well), and his average draft spot is 12.7. 

This is clearly ridiculous, and you're smarter than that. 

Mathews is not the twelfth-best fantasy player, not even close, and if he's your first-round pick, then you're doing a terrible job. 

He's an injury risk, and even when he's healthy, he's not a top-five back.

Be smart, hold off until about the third round. If someone else reaches and picks him earlier, then so be it, let them live with the mistake. 

Injury Assessment/News

Ryan Mathews fractured his clavicle several weeks ago, but his healing process has been smooth.

According to Sports Illustrated, he could be back by Week 1. If he does miss time, it won't be more than a game or two.

This is a huge improvement over the initial NFL.com reports that suggested he could be out until October. 

Although, it's important to remember that he's still an injury risk, even if this current injury is not an issue. He has yet to play 16 full games in a season. 

Season Projections

Ryan Mathews is certainly in a position to succeed if he can stay on the field. 

With Vincent Jackson now in Tampa Bay and with Antonio Gates struggling to stay healthy the last few seasons, there's a good chance that San Diego will rely more on the run. 

If Mathews carries the ball 300 times in 2012 at his career 4.6 yards per carry average, we're looking at 1,380 yards. 

As far as touchdowns, he scored six last season and seven as a rookie, so don't expect more than eight or nine scores. 

Total: 1,380 rushing yards, eight touchdowns

Bye Week Info (Week 7)

The Chargers have their bye scheduled for Week 7. 

With Mathews possibly missing the first game due to injury, he should look very fresh in the first five or six games leading up to the bye week. 

The stretch between Week 8 and Week 17 is a long one, so expect him to slow down near the end of the season. 

Splits Situation

Ryan Mathews will be the featured back, there's no question about that. 

Ronnie Brown is a solid backup and will likely see about 15 to 20 percent of the carries, but Mathews will get a heavy workload. 

Also, with Mike Tolbert no longer in San Diego, Mathews will get more action down near the goal line, which could result in more touchdowns. 

Players to Take Before Mathews

Ryan Mathews is not first-round material and he's not a top-tier running back. He has some solid value, but don't take him over the following players:

-Adrian Peterson

-Chris Johnson

-LeSean McCoy

-Ray Rice

-Arian Foster

-Marshawn Lynch 

-Steven Jackson

If any of these running backs are still available, you would be better off picking them. 

Players Mathews Should Be Picked Ahead Of 

Ryan Mathews is no small-time pick. If you pick him, chances are he's a high investment and someone you will depend on. 

Here are guys you don't want to pick ahead of Mathews:

-Frank Gore

-Darren McFadden

-Matt Forte

-Jamaal Charles

-Maurice Jones-Drew (Contract Holdout)

-Fred Jackson

-Michael Turner

Don't take any of these guys if Mathews is still on the board. 


Overall, Ryan Mathews is a starting-caliber back who has a lot of production to offer, but due to a history of nagging injuries, don't reach for him. 


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