| Running Back, San Diego Chargers
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|Draft: 2010 Round 1 (12)
College: Fresno State
DOB: 1987-10-10 Age: 27
|After sharing the running back duties with Mike Tolbert last season, Mathews appears ready to take over a workhorse back role with San Diego in 2012. Tolbert signed with Carolina as a free agent and the Chargers will enter the season with the uninspiring trio of Ronnie Brown, Le’Ron McClain and Curtis Brinkley in reserve behind Mathews. That should translate into plenty of touches for the talented Mathews. He enters the season having had a very productive 2011 with 1,545 total yards and six touchdowns despite missing two full games and playing nicked up in several others. Tolbert saw plenty of action last season both as a short yardage runner and the teams’ third down back, pilfering 10 touchdowns. Look for Mathews to assume most of that workload, giving him an opportunity to approach 2,000 total yards and reach double-digit touchdowns for the first time in his career. The only risk with Mathews is his penchant for getting hurt (six missed games over the first two years of his career) but reports out of San Diego indicate that he is in the best shape of his career. He is a legitimate RB1 in 2012 and likely to be amongst the top five fantasy producers at running back.
Comment: Mathews will miss 4-6 weeks after breaking his clavicle. Getting injured after one carry in a preseason game isn't going to ease concerns about Mathews' durability. Best case scenario - he is available for Week 1 - but hopes for a heavy workload early in the season are likely gone.
| Donald Brown returns to practice -- Wed Oct 29 6:09 pm --|
Missed three games due to concussion
|SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego Chargers running back Donald Brown has been cleared to return to practice after missing three games with a concussion.
Brown practiced Wednesday for the first time since being injured in a victory against the New York Jets on Oct. 5. Running back Ryan Mathews continues to rehab his right knee, which he injured in a victory against Seattle in Week 2. "I don't think Ryan is too far away," quarterback Philip Rivers said.
FF Today's Take: The Chargers backfield has been decimated by injury where Brandon Oliver has stepped up nicely for fantasy owners. However, Donald Brown's return and a tough matchup with the Dolphins figures to limit Oliver's upside this week. Likewise, Brown's fantasy upside remains limited with the impending return of Ryan Mathews (knee) looming.
| Ryan Mathews has yet to resume running -- Thu Oct 16 4:30 pm --|
Branden Oliver could remain starter through Week 10 bye
|Ryan Mathews (MCL sprain) knelt over at his locker Wednesday. He slipped into running shoes. He wore gray, light-material pants fit for running. Almost time?
"When (the training staff) thinks it's time for me to start running, then it's time to start running. It's all in their hands," Mathews said.
Mathews continues to rehab from a Sept. 14 right knee injury and his return won't be Sunday versus the Chiefs. The next game comes the following Thursday in Denver. (San Diego Union-Tribune)|
FF Today's Take: Next week's short turnaround pretty much locks in Branden Oliver as the main back through at least Week 8. At that point, San Diego could easily decide to give Mathews two more weeks in order to be completely ready for Week 11 if Oliver continues to perform well. However, owners should bear in mind the Chargers prefer a committee attack, so expect Mathews and Oliver (if not also Donald Brown) to split carries once everyone is healthy.
| Ryan Mathews likely out 1-2 more weeks -- Mon Oct 6 4:55 pm --|
Branden Oliver explodes for 182 total yards in Week 5 win
|Already down Ryan Mathews (out probably at least another week and more likely two with a knee sprain) and Danny Woodhead (lost for the season to a fractured leg), the Chargers had to rely on Branden Oliver on Sunday after Donald Brown suffered a concussion.
Oliver’s 182 total yards were most by a Chargers running back since a guy known by two letters was the Chargers’ face and the league’s biggest force. (San Diego Union-Tribune)|
FF Today's Take: There isn't much question (yet) that Mathews will return as the starter when healthy, but Oliver should have solidified Danny Woodhead's old complementary-back role with his dominant all-around performance against the league's stingiest run defense in Week 5. Oliver stands a great chance of being San Diego's featured back in Week 6 against Oakland and potentially Week 7 versus Kansas City.
| Woodhead out for the season -- Mon Sep 22 4:30 pm --|
Needs surgery on fractured fibula
|The Chargers lost RB Danny Woodhead early in their Week 3 victory over the Bills and it may be some time before they get him back on the field. San Diego announced that Woodhead, who left the game on crutches, suffered a right ankle injury that caused him to be carted off the field. It looks like it is more than your garden variety ankle injury, however.
Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that Woodhead suffered both a severe high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula. He’s expected to have surgery that will bring his season to an end. (Pro Football Talk)|
FF Today's Take: Chargers beat writer Michael Gehlken tweeted the news that Woodhead would be lost for the season. It likely locks Donald Brown into a Woodhead-like role when Ryan Mathews returns and probably ensures that Branden Oliver - dubbed "Baby Sproles" by some in the preseason - will see an increase in snaps.
| Ryan Mathews likely out 4-6 weeks -- Mon Sep 15 4:45 pm --|
|An MCL sprain can sideline a player anywhere from a minimal amount to eight weeks. For Ryan Mathews, the timetable appears to fall somewhere in between.
A recent MRI has confirmed a sprained MCL for the Chargers running back, and he is expected to miss four to five weeks, according to the NFL Network. The team will take the news, knowing it could've been much worse after Mathews was carted off the field Sunday. His right knee injury came during the fourth quarter of a 30-21 win over Seattle. (San Diego Union-Tribune)|
FF Today's Take: Mathews' injury history was likely one of the main reasons the Chargers signed Donald Brown this offseason. The former first-round pick of the Colts didn't do a lot with his 10 touches on Sunday, but figures to pretty much absorb the role of Mathews in his absence while Danny Woodhead remains the passing-down/change-of-pace option. Along with Kansas City's Knile Davis, expect Brown to be one of the top waiver-wire additions in most leagues this week.
|San Diego places Nick Hardwick on IR -- Wed Sep 10 3:00 pm --|
Team captain loses season to neck injury
|The San Diego Chargers lost one of their leaders for the season placing Nick Hardwick on Reserve-Injured with a neck injury. A stalwart in the middle, the veteran center has started all 136 NFL games he’s appeared in, including 67 in a row, so he’s still getting over the “shock” of being out for the year. (Chargers.com)|
FF Today's Take: This is a crushing blow to Mike McCoy's offense. The Chargers will now need to transition to new center Rich Ohrnberger against the fierce Seattle Seahawks defense. As a result, keep expectations for Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen tempered for Week 2.
|Chargers' backfield "a three-headed monster" -- Mon Aug 4 3:55 pm --|
Mathews coming off career season
|Ryan Mathews calls it “the three-headed monster.” It could perhaps also be called unprecedented. In NFL history, only the 2012 Carolina Panthers - after signing Mike Tolbert - could arguably boast three running backs coming off a season as productive as the Mathews-Danny Woodhead-Donald Brown trio. It will be the same thing this year. Mathews (will be) the workhorse, Woodhead the versatile guy who can run and catch, Brown the sort of hybrid of the two.
Said Chargers running backs coach Ollie Wilson: “There is no such thing as a featured back any more.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)|
FF Today's Take: The Chargers figure to enter the season as a run-heavy team, but those plans may have to change based on San Diego's difficult schedule - one that includes the NFC West. Not only should owners remember Mathews is still an injury risk, they should also consider his difficult schedule. Woodhead is going to see the majority of passing-down snaps while Brown should steal a few other carries. In short, Mathews is a poor bet to match last season's production.
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