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What, I told them to match my hair with my smile…

As touched upon briefly and legally (I think, you never know with touching) in the post calling Montee Ball overrated, it dawned on me that Ryan Mathews still remains underrated, and he probably shouldn’t be. Here’s the specific quote about Mathews:

“Let’s not forget about Ryan Mathews, who also had these same issues (ball security and pass protection), and it took him three seasons to emerge into last year’s career breakout. It may be an apples/oranges comparison because of the injuries Mathews suffered, probably slowing his development, but it can’t be denied that there were specific game-plan decisions from 2010-2012 based on his weaknesses. And I’m sure there was a fruit basket involved somewhere. Needs more mango if you ask me. And may I add that these years also led to the amazing discovery that Ronnie Brown was actually still alive. Who knew?”

To further elaborate on those 2010-2012 years, even a homeristic (this word exists spell check, I swear!) fan like myself couldn’t bring myself to believe in Mathews. We are, in fact, talking about a back who had more broken more collarbones than touchdowns in 2012. Which, actually, now that I think about it, is pretty impressive. Add with the previously mentioned issues of ball security and pass protection, along with the  fact that he had only one season in his career where he rushed for 1,000 yards, and missed 10 games in those three years…. well, even as one of the 57 Chargers fans (138 when the surf is low), I just couldn’t buy in at all for 2013.

And you know what? For the first five games of the season, I was right about Mathews. He was pretty much doing what he always did, and that’s rush around 15 times for 50-65 yards, and that’s… about… it. But then something happened in the Monday Night Football game against the Indianapolis Colts at the week six mark. Mike McCoy and Ken Wisenhunt decided that they wanted a team that could control the clock, and to do that, they needed to establish the run early-and-often. In that game, Mathews rushed for 102 yards in 22 carries. The next week, 21 carries for 110 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Take a look at the change in table form. MORE TABLES FOR EVERYONE.

AVG. Rush AVG. YDS AVG YPG TD
Weeks 1-5 13.4 46.8 3.34 0
Weeks 6-17 19.8 92.8 4.70 6

The shift in coaching wasn’t the only reason. A mix ‘n match line got healthier as the season progressed. And, after a crushing goal-line failure against the Washington Football Team in week nine, in which Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown failed to get into the endzone from the two-yard line, costing a game that was easily the most-winnable out of all the close losses the Chargers had in 2013… if anything changed the Chargers mindset for attacking the endzone, that game was it, and that’s important to note. Because even though Mathews has seemingly broken out and shown that he can be a feature back, both in the NFL and your fantasy teams, the TD totals are the most underwhelming number on his stat page and are part of the reason he remains underrated (along with his other past issues). That number will most certainly go up in 2014. In fact, while not the most scientific approach, just prorate his last 10 weeks of play and you have a back who has 320 carries, 1,488 yards, and 10 touchdowns. That would put him in the conversation with Matt Forte, Alfred Morris, and Eddie Lacy.

Going forward, there’s plenty here to dream on. Sure, there’s always risk of injury, but in the NFL, you could say that about any player. He’s finally lived up to his potential, and look for him, if starting in 16 games for 2014, to put up career numbers across the board. In fact, he had the seventh highest yardage total (1,255) despite his week 1-5 handicap. I would of course say Mathews is your eventual MVP, but I’m trying to keep my homerism in check nowadays. HAHA. Yeah, let’s see how that works out…

At the very least, he’s inside my top-10 for running backs, and since I mentioned his name above, Mathews is certainly a better option in your drafts than Montee Ball. Go forth and grab him, you have my blessing. (Though, I use margaritas, not holy water.)

  1. Donny says:
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    Mathews over Ball, that’s a bold prediction, can’t say I agree but I like it! I take it you have no concerns about Donald Brown stealing touches?

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Donny: Not really, and to be honest, I’ve seen that concern all over the place. I think Brown is who he is, which is a very situational player and insurance.

      • Rich says:
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        I finished dead last in a 12 team league last season. We are allowed to keep 3-5 players from last years roster. My best options according to most rankings out there are; luck, rivers, ball, Mathews, Fitzgerald and Wallace. I know pretty bad. I am only going to keep 3 so I get the number 1 overall, who do you keep?

        • Jay

          Jay says:
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          Out of this group, Luck, Ball, and Mathews. It’s not ideal, but I wouldn’t say it’s bad.

          • Rich says:
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            Thank you! Then start grabbing wideouts like crazy? I think Ellington, Keenan Allen, Chris Johnson should be available at my number 1 plus all the rookies.

            • Jay

              Jay says:
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              Ellington is great, but you’d be set at RB, so yeah, I’d go Allen there.

  2. Jagan says:
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    Trade question:

    I have one tyrade question in one of the early drafts we had.

    PPR – .5 pt

    Get Roddy White and give Shane Vereen

    My other RBs are Marshawn Lynch / Eddie Lacy / Reggie Bush / Danny Woodhead /Mcfadden(need to start 2-3)

    My WRs are Eric Decker / Kendall Wright / Deandre Hopkins / Justin Hunter / Denarius Moore / Cody Lattimore

    Thanks

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Jagan: Yeah, I’m fine with this trade, shores up your WR core very nicely, and your RB’s are pretty much set with that group.

  3. SwaggerJackers says:
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    Jay! I just figured out my pick in a 2 keeper league.

    Here’s what you need to know about the league format: 2QB, 2RB, 2WR, 2FLEX…

    1PPR, .25PPC

    Which set of 3 do you like better to start out:

    Marshall, Le’Veon, Stafford
    Marshall, Stafford, RG3
    Marshall, Murray, RG3
    Demaryius, Le’Veon, Stafford

    There’s a chance Stafford won’t be there in which case I’d end up with Marshall, Le’Veon, RG3.

  4. Sange76 says:
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    12 team .5 ppr keeper league
    Keeping Kaepernick rd 7 and Zac Stacy rd 13
    4th pick this year
    5 pt passing td.
    6 pt rushing/rec td
    1 point every 25 passing yds, 3 point 300 yd bonus
    1 pt every 10 rush/rec yds, 3 pt 100 yd bonus

    I am leaning best RB at the 4 spot this year, probably Forte, instead of Megatron….. With keeping Kaep and Stacy, I have a lot of ways to build the squad. Would it be better to go for best wr/rb in rd 2 and 3, say Julio, Jordy, Spiller, Ellington types and wait for an RG3 or Matty Ice in 4/5….or if either Brees or Rodgers fall to the 2nd rd grab one of them earlier and load up on wr/rb/te until that keeper in the 7th rd?
    Thanks

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Sange76: To be honest, I’m taking Matt Ryan at the 4/5 round and happy. Coin flip with Forte and Megatron, but I’m not crazy about Kaepernick.

  5. pickleball says:
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    keep 3: Montee ball ($17) doug martin ($16) and leveon bell ($12) are my three keepers. I feel that i have too much risk in these keepers.

    who, if anyone, would you deal away to acquire a $29 eddie lacy or $24 dez bryant? (i’d be packaging one of the three rb’s above with TY hilton, Crabtree, Brees, J Cameron or anyone that the other owner wanted in return. hilton/crabtree are $10, Cameron $20, Brees $35).

    i also have an offer of a $10 demeryius thomas for any 2 of my backs above, but that then leaves me with keepeing hilton or crabtree as my third keeper.

    sorry if the above is confusing and thanks

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @pickleball: There’s some risk there, certainly. If you can, I’d go Bryant here. I’m not a Ball fan at all, and I could be wrong, but I’d want to deal him first.

      In fact, I’d do Ball for Thomas and keep Hilton.

  6. Brett says:
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    Jay

    Can you rank these 3 keepers .5 Ppr 12 team 220 budget

    Cobb 9 Nelson 23 Jeffries 9

    Thanks

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Brett: I’d rank them Jeffries, Cobb, then Nelson. Love Nelson, but I love the value and keeper price for the other two.

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