Get Over Your Fear of Ryan Mathews
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It’s one of those names that, as a fantasy owner, makes you want to sprint to the closest bathroom to make sure you don’t make a mess in public. He’s been in a tight battle with Darren McFadden over the last few years for the player most representative of an actual hospital, but that’s done with (we hope).
I actually mean this, I promise; I like Ryan Mathews this year. I like him a lot.
Okay, first, what happened last year in the apparent dumpster fire that was the Philadelphia Eagles’ backfield?
They signed DeMarco Murray in the 2015 offseason and used him about as much as you would use bacon-flavored chocolate syrup. Murray had 193 carries with a paltry 3.6 yards per carry. Mr. Mathews had 106 carries (you’ll have to read on to see his yards per carry), and Darren Sproles had 83 carries with an also-mildly-sickening 3.8 yards per carry.
I’ll spare you the excitement of the Chip Kelly saga, but just know that Doug Pederson is now the new coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Who is Doug Pederson, you ask?
Doug Pederson was offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs from 2013-2015, during which he had that incredible streak of 21 straight games without a touchdown reception by a wide receiver. Hopefully, Pederson’s rushing offense is more impressive than his passing offense.
In 2015, the Chiefs were sixth in the NFL with 2,044 rushing yards, tied for 12th with 436 attempts, and tied for third with 4.7 yards per carry. In 2014, the Chiefs were a perfectly average 16th in attempts, but still tied for third with 4.6 yards per carry. What about 2013? The Chiefs were 15th in attempts, but tied for fourth with 4.7 yards per carry.
Ultimately, Pederson’s offenses were within the top four in yards per carry in each of his three seasons as the offensive coordinator in KC.
Okay, so Murray is gone, leaving Mathews as the apparent number one back in Philadelphia. Mathews averaged 5.1 yards per carry last year – good for second in the league among qualified running backs behind only Thomas Rawls (5.6).On top of that, Murray had 44 receptions last year which will likely now be spread between Mathews and Sproles.
As a fantasy owner, I’m all about opportunity. Simply put, Mathews is the only running back on this team who is capable of being a workhorse. His excellent 5.1 yards per carry combined with a seemingly easy opportunity to get 20+ carries per game means that he should have a very respectable fantasy season. You do run an additional risk of him getting hurt, but, eh, take a shot. His injury risk combined with the general sour taste towards the Eagles’ offense leaves you with an opportunity for great value.
According to FantasyPros, Mathews is ranked as RB20 and is being drafted with the 53rd pick. I have Mathews ranked as RB14 and ranked 33rd overall. In other words, I see a lot of Ryan Mathews shares in my future.
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