That was fun while it lasted. The Ryan Mathews hype-train came to a screeching halt Thursday when the San Diego Chargers running back broke his clavicle on his very first carry of the 2012 preseason. Surgery will be performed Friday and Mathews is expected to be out for the next four to six weeks, putting his status for the regular season in doubt.
We all knew that injuries were likely inevitable for Mathews- he hasn’t played a full football season since his junior year…in high school. But getting injured on the initial hand-off of the 2012 campaign is just the latest in a growing list of minor nags, ailments and injuries that remind us that, though extremely talented, Ryan Mathews is extremely fragile and a high risk/high reward fantasy football option.
With a little luck, Mathews could be back in time for the Chargers September 10th opener, but the door is now open for Ronnie Brown and Le’Ron McClain to carve out an increased role in Norv Turner’s offense. At the very least, this injury could cause Mathews to be limited while he’s eased back into the offense.
Mathews thrived in the second half of 2011 when he was fully healthy and paired with the bigger Mike Tolbert, who pounded out many of the tough, inside yards and short-yardage work. This injury really adds to the speculation that Mathews will likely split time with a more durable runner and could lose valuable goal-line work…a role McClain thrived in 2008 with the Ravens.
Fantasy Factor: Obviously losing valuable short touchdown opportunities could limit Mathews’ fantasy value. On a positive note, we can all hope that this is the only ailment that he will suffer from this season and it’s much better to get it out of the way during the preseason than during the part of the schedule that actually matters.
Mathews is still a major talent and in an offense that is catered for major production from a running back with his skill-set. When his fantasy ADP (currently at 7.88) starts to tumble, don’t hesitate to take advantage and scoop him up.