Welcome to the new off-season series, aptly named ‘Final Fantasy’. In this series, I’ll be focusing the spotlight on certain players that either exceeded or fell-by-the-wayside of our expectations, and I’ll briefly touch them with my thoughts, legally. Despite rumor (and the series name), we will not be discussing anything +5 to magic missile. Unless there’s actually a NFL player that shoots missiles. And has, like, an amulet to vitality or something like that. Michael Vick’s -98 amulet of dog-caring will be excluded in this particular instance. Regardless, let’s get to the spotlight for today, and that’s Ryan Mathews.
|2013 Actual Stats||285||1255||6||26||189||1|
Well, what can I say, you proved me wrong Mathews. I was pretty darn bearish on his outlooks… well, bearish under ‘homer’ standards, but even then, I felt I was the only one. He was coming off a year where he broke more clavicles than had touchdowns. He had reoccurring fumblitus problems, and these ‘problems’ seemed to stir into a frenzy once the Chargers were in the redzone, where errors become even more egregious. He had only one season over 1000 rushing yards, and missed 10 games in the past three years. These, no doubt, were under whelming results for a highly touted former 1st rounder. But still, as you can see the projections above, everyone was expecting, at the very least, a capable RB#2/Flex production. I just didn’t see it, and, instead, rallied behind Danny Woodhead having a career year, especially in PPR’s. But that’ll be covered at some point in the future, because God made our arms long enough to pat ourselves on the back.
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 around 50-65 yards, and that’s… about… it. And then, something happened in the MNF 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 over 22 carries. The next week, 21 carries for 110 yards and his first TD of the season. Take a look at the change in table form. MORE TABLES FOR EVERYONE.
|AVG. Rush||AVG. YDS||AVG YPG||TD|
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 in 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. Because the Chargers have started giving Mathews more carries at the goal-line, that number will most certainly go up.
Going forward, there is nothing really not to like here. There’s always risk of injury, but in the NFL, you could say that about any player. I think 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. I would say MVP, but I’m trying to keep my homerism in check nowadays. HAHAHA. Yeah, let’s see how that works out…