NFL Fantasy, The Impact of Ryan Mathew’s Injury
The most important thing to do in preparing for your draft is watching for injury updates. I must admit that I had a back-to-back season where I took a flier on a player that wasn’t on my draft sheet who ended up being injured – I had no clue. I have learned to check injury reports daily, looking for players that get hurt so I can scoop up their handcuffs. After playing fantasy football for multiple seasons you start noticing trends both in terms of players and specific injuries that are particularly impacting. Take a hamstring injury for example – it sounds harmless, it happens a lot, but if you have ever had one you know it takes forever to go away. For proof, look at Miles Austin this year, who is still recovering from a hamstring injury from early in the 2011 season that impacted him all year long.
Keeping track of injuries and players that are often injured will help you rank your players so that on draft day you can pass on them and focus on the players with the real value. Let other teams in your league draft theses players so you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt and can avoid the trouble of finding a replacement.
The biggest injury so far this preseason is to Ryan Mathews. There was a lot of hype surrounding this kid coming out of college and he didn’t do too bad rushing for 678 yards in his first season and just over 1,000 yards in his sophomore year. This season he was slated to be the Chargers’ workhorse back with the departure of Mike Tolbert, but after breaking his collar bone, all that might change.
Mathews should be ready for either week one or two, but don’t look for him to get a full work load. Remember that Mathews played in only 12 games as a rookie and 14 games last season due to injuries. He is quickly proving that he may not be cut out for a full-time workload; even in 2011 Mathews received only 51% of his team’s carries. Look for the Chargers to spread the ball around with Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle. Pass on Mathews this year as it’s most likely going to go back to a committee running game – if he can even stay healthy for a full season.
The one player I would keep on eye on that could have a big impact on the ground if Mathews’ injury woes continue is Curtis Brinkley. An undrafted free agent out of Syracuse in 2009 he has had limited playing time in his two years with the Chargers. However with Darren Sproles’ departure after 2010, and Tolbert’s in this past off-season, Brinkley is tied with Mathews as the longest tenured Chargers running back. Because of the off-season additions he might not be a lock to make the 53-man roster, but in my eyes he has much more upside than Brown and Battle. Keep a close eye in the next couple weeks on the Chargers backfield, if Brinkley can have a couple big plays look for him to not only crack the 53-man roster, but also get a chance for some decent numbers early in the season.
Good Luck with your drafts and check back in for more updates.