Those are the words of denial, and they’re often the most annoying words that have ever been part of a sentence related to fantasy football. There is no “early” when the playoffs start in Week 15, making the regular season only 14 games long. Some leagues even begin their post season in Week 14.
No, you don’t need to wear water wings every Sunday and dive into a kiddie pool at the first sign of trouble. That would be weird, unnecessary, and it’ll probably piss off your mother. She likes to keep the basement clean.
But on the other end of that extreme, poor performances early in the season or production that falls far below what was expected can’t simply be disregarded because of the calender. Which brings us to Matthew Stafford.
The Lions are 1-3, which has created its own unique brand of panic in Detroit, although fans there are quite familiar with such pain and will easily adapt to any losing environment. But what of Stafford? He was drafted as one of the elite, top tier quarterbacks (ADP of about 10th overall) following a season when he passed for over 5,000 yards. His passing yards this year are holding up, although he’s not on pace to duplicate last year’s upper echelon play (current pace is 4,728 yards). But his touchdowns are down significantly at the quarter pole, as is his passer rating.
Should you be worried? Sigmund Bloom doesn’t think so. I talked to Bloom, a senior writer at Football Guys and a host for The Audible, their excellent and thorough podcast, and I asked him about Stafford after touching on Ryan Mathews, Brandon Bolden and the Patriots’ backfield, and Ryan Tannehill’s keeper outlook.
Headline written in all caps super bold angry screaming out of respect to Ryan Mathews owners everywhere, and their searing pain.
The Chargers are crushing the Chiefs 17-0 with just over three minutes still left in the first quarter. Normally, this would be fantastic news which fills the Mathews owner with unabashed glee, because surely the Chargers’ top running back is involved in such an early snot pounding, yes?
No. In fact, he’s contributed only negative yardage. Welcome to your nightmare.
Ryan Mathews has the talent to be a premier running back, and one of the dominant players we talk about as the anchor of his offense. His major flaw — his inability to stay healthy after missing eight of the 35 games he’s been eligible to play — is well known and has received intense scrutiny. He’s fragile, and has the combustibility of some foreign, yet to be invented material which exceeds the easy breakage of glass.
We shall call this material Ryan Mathews, and its only purpose is to aggravate you. But you, the Mathews owner, can sometimes overlook his upside while you drown in your sea of pity and angst. When he’s healthy and when he’s a fully functioning human, Mathews can be highly productive. Despite missing two games last year he still had his first 1,000-yard rushing season while adding 455 more yards through the air, and he scored six times. He’s pretty good.
Like the child you’ve brought into this world or the spouse you chose to support in sickness and in health, you accept Mathews despite his injury flaw. However, there’s another flaw which will not be tolerated in fantasy or reality, because in both real life and your fake football existence, this flaw can actually hurt you far more than an injury.
Ryan Mathews headlines the late-game actives as he returns from a broken clavicle. Mathews figures to be a feature back this year as Mike Tolbert will no longer be leaching his touchdowns.
Mathews has the reputation of being somewhat injury prone, so his ability to stay on the field will be an intriguing storyline going forward. Meanwhile, John Skelton is out again, which is bad news for Larry Fitzgerald owners. Kevin Kolb has been far less friendly to Fitz, opting instead to use Larry as a decoy. And it appears as though Knowshon Moreno’s tenure in Denver may be reaching an end. The highly touted 25-year old has never fulfilled his potential and today the Broncos made him a healthy scratch.
A healthy Ryan Mathews is quick, can identify holes with ease and hit them hard even easier, and he has high-end breakaway speed. A healthy Ryan Mathews averaged 4.9 yards per carry last year and showed his burst with nine runs of 20 yards or more, all in just his second season. A healthy Ryan Mathews could quickly place himself among the league’s elite running backs.
But a healthy Ryan Mathews feels almost like a piece of imaginary folklore at this point. Although this latest injury — a broken collarbone — is the product of a random event and yet another sprinkling of bad luck for a player who’s already been doused with the whole bag of crappy luck, it won’t linger and hold back his performance when he returns, which will likely be this weekend since he’s been cleared for contact and mercifully escaped practice without any problem.
As ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell wrote shortly after Mathews broke his collarbone in early August, there’s a clear and obvious difference between a bone break and a muscle issue in that once the bone heals, the risk of re-aggravation is minimal. Since Mathews owners need a little bit of encouragement before they deploy their walking piece of glass this Sunday against Atlanta, those words are welcome.
These words, however, aren’t, because they sound far too familiar.
We’re starting to get down to the wire when it comes to choosing our fantasy lineups for the week. One game has already transpired, and if your team happened to have Jay Cutler, then you really need all of the points you can possibly get this weekend.
Fantasy owners of Chargers’ running back Ryan Mathews (injured clavicle), might be better served to keep him glued to their bench, since he was limited in practice today and is listed as questionable for San Diego’s game against Tennessee on Sunday.
This is a question being asked by thousands of fantasy football owners who aren’t sure if the Chargers’ Pro Bowl running back will be available Monday against Oakland. To answer your question, I have no idea, but I don’t think I would risk it.
Mathews, who broke his clavicle on his first carry of the preseason, still hasn’t been cleared for contact.