Week Fifteen Analysis: It's been a lost season for Ryan Mathews. He's now failed to score in eight straight games, and he hasn't topped 3.8 yards per carry in his last five. About the only thing he has going for him at this point is his versatility and workload. And health, oddly enough. He's averaged just 53 rushing yards in his last five games, but he's chipped in another 20 through the air, and he's averaged a robust 20 touches during that span. If he touches the ball 20 times against Carolina, good things are bound to happen. Against opposing backs, the Panthers rank 23rd in rushing yards, and dead last in receiving yards, which is an especially strong angle for Mathews.
Week Twelve Analysis: In his last five games, Ryan Mathews' mediocre yardage has ranged from 72-to-104, and he's failed to make a single trip to the end zone. In short, he's been a consistently disappointing fantasy back for over a month, regardless of matchup. We're all still trying to get used to saying this, but Baltimore represents a very favorable matchup. The Ravens are the league's 26th-ranked run defense, and they've given up a charitable 46 receiving yards per game to the position over their last three weeks as well. Mathews is certainly a viable starter based on talent and matchup, but we've seen nothing in recent weeks to warrant any kind of excitement.
Week Eleven Analysis: We can make all the excuses we want for Ryan Mathews, but the fact remains—he's scored just one touchdown all season. Moreover, despite his enormous talent, he's yet to rush for 100 yards in a game, and he's totaled just 72 and 76 combo yards the last two weeks. Things won't get any easier in Denver. Although Ryan Mathews three best yardage games have all come against Denver, the Broncos allow just 3.6 yards per carry, and Mathews only managed an empty 93 combo yards on a season-high 26 touches in the first meeting. He's simply given us no reason to expect anything more in the rematch.
Week Ten Analysis: It seemed like a foregone conclusion that if Ryan Mathews stayed healthy this season he'd be highly productive, but that hasn't been the case. While he's averaging a very solid 94 combo yards per game, he's scored just once in six contests. Furthermore, his modest production has come against an incredibly favorable schedule—the best run defense he's faced this season is the 16th-ranked Broncos, and four of his six opponents have been bottom-10 outfits. This week, Mathews heads to Tampa Bay to face the league's top-ranked run defense. Mathews' best angle is that Oakland backs combined for 17 catches, 151 yards and a score against the Bucs last week.
Week Nine Analysis: It appears Norv Turner has finally realized that watching Ryan Mathews fumble isn't nearly as excruciating as watching Jackie Battle not fumble. Despite Mathews' first quarter fumble last week, he received 26 touches for the second consecutive game. However, his two-game average of 99 scoreless combo yards feels awfully light for that kind of workload. The Chiefs are giving up 169 combo yards per game to opposing backs, and Mathews and Battle combined for 163 yards and a pair of scores in the teams' first meeting. Now that Battle is out of the picture, good things should be in store for Mathews.
Week Eight Analysis: Despite Ryan Mathews' durability and fumbling issues, his low water mark is still a respectable 76 combo yards in the four games he's played this season. Mathews regained his featured role in the San Diego backfield prior to the Chargers' bye, and he has a nice opportunity to really get on track this week against a very beatable Cleveland run defense. The Browns are giving up 168 combo yards per game to opposing backfields, and they're just three weeks removed from giving up 229 yards and a score to Ahmad Bradshaw. All signs point to a highly productive day for Mathews.
Week Six Analysis: Perhaps Norv Turner was on to something by having Ryan Mathews come off the bench this past week. Mathews blew away Jackie Battle, and it was only a matter of time before Turner made Mathews his top back. Mathews dominated every element of the ballgame when he was on the field last week, and he even snuck into the end zone perhaps putting to rest any Running Back by Committee concerns. Over his career Mathews has averaged 92 combo yards-per-start, and this week he faces a Broncos team that he has demolished for an average of 138 combo yards-per-game spanning three career matchups. In addition, these two teams have combined to average 47 points per game over the last three years.
Week Five Analysis: Last week I cautioned that Ryan Mathews may have fumbled away future scoring opportunities, and Sunday those fears became a reality. Not only did Jackie Battle score twice, but he also tallied 19 touches to Mathews' 16. However, now that the message has been sent, you have to think that talent will win out in this prime matchup, hopefully this week. No team has allowed more rushing yards than the Saints, and no team has allowed more than the six touchdowns they've ceded to opposing backs. We still don't know how things will shake out in the San Diego backfield, but with a matchup this easy, error on the side of starting Mathews this week.
Week Four Analysis: Ryan Mathews' injury history has overshadowed his fumbling history, but the latter came to light in his season debut. Mathews dropped the ball 10 times in his first two seasons, and after coughing one up inside the five-yard line Sunday, Norv Turner hinted that he may have fumbled away future scoring opportunities. Clearly, this is something to monitor. This week Mathews faces a Chiefs run defense that's surrendering 145 combo yards and a touchdown per game to opposing backfields. Mathews ran for 155 yards and a pair of scores in the two meetings last year, and he also topped 50 receiving yards in each game, so keep him active.
Week Three Analysis: We can finally dust off Ryan Mathews, but it's hard to know what to expect this week. How much work will he get? Will his mending collarbone hold up? Were Jackie Battle's two goal line plunges last week a fluke, or a sign that he's the new Mike Tolbert? Here's what we know: Mathews is incredibly talented, and Atlanta's run defense is not. Here's an example: In the seven games prior to last week's matchup with the Falcons, Willis McGahee had cracked 80 combo yards just once, and had only scored one touchdown. He plucked the dirty birds for 124 yards and two scores. Feel free to unleash Mathews this week.