Ryan Mathews looked liked he was finally going to deliver on all the potential fantasy players have believed in since he was drafted out of Fresno State in 2010.
He busted through the 1,000-yard barrier last season and had four games of at least 100 yards rushing following a disappointing rookie campaign which saw him gain only 678 yards in 2010. And his biggest issue — relatively few touchdowns — seemed like it would no longer be an issue this season thanks to the fact that Mike Tolbert is no longer a Charger. Mathews was being drafted as a mid-to-late first round pick.
Then Mathews injury issues came back to bite him — and his fantasy owners — in the behind again.
In the preseason opener against the Packers on Aug. 9, Mathews broke his clavicle. The injury normally has a four to six week timetable for return, but Mathews claims he’ll be ready for Week 1 against the Raiders. That would be only about three weeks. Given his injury history, I’m not buying that.
At this point Mathews’ draft position takes a tumble for me. No way would I consider taking him any earlier than the third round, and even then it would probably be a reach. This position more than likely means I won’t be owning Mathews in any league this year, but I’m OK with that.
He’s yet to do anything in the pros to make me believe that I should roll the dice that he’ll bounce back strong and produce first-round quality fantasy numbers once he returns — whether that be in Week 1 like he claims or later should he actually follow the proper timetable, which again given his shaky injury history he probably should consider.
I questioned whether or not he deserved to be a first round pick before the injury, but now I question whether he’s even a top 10 fantasy running back this season.
Andrew Luck looked mighty impressive in his preseason debut against the Rams.
Granted, 63 of his 188 passing yards came on one reception by Donald Brown, but Luck did complete 10 of 16 passes. And let’s be honest, the Colts are likely going to be playing from behind quite a bit this season, so Luck may be able to put up some numbers even if his team isn’t winning. Plus, he still does have Reggie Wayne to throw to, so it’s not like he has no weapons.
Frankly, I would take him before either the Jets’ Tim Tebow or Mark Sanchez and the Titans’ Jake Locker, all of whom are being drafted ahead of Luck in Yahoo! leagues. Luck played for former pro quarterback and current Niners coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, which could help him adjust to Bruce Arian’s offense in Indianapolis.
I wouldn’t take Luck with the expectation of him being my No. 1 quarterback, but he could be a reliable fill-in for bye weeks or a matchup play.
In looking at the average draft positions at Yahoo, I saw the the top three picks, on average, were running backs — Arian Foster, followed by Ray Rice and then LeSean McCoy.
This is not uncommon, as running backs are quite often taken at the top of the draft. But personally, I think I prefer to take a QB in the first round. Running backs take a pounding and often times face injury concerns at some point during the season. Moreover, there are usually a few breakout running backs no one saw coming during a season.
Quarterbacks have become reliable fantasy producers and I feel more comfortable that I’m more likely to get a return on investment from a Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees than one of the running backs. Quarterbacks are breaking records left and right and the league seems to be moving toward becoming a passing league, if it isn’t already. At the end of the day as much as a running back can make a huge fantasy difference, I’m going with the steady production of a QB early.