Daily Haze, fantasy football, NFL, sports news

This year’s rookie running backs have Ryan Mathews to thank for their lower-than-expected average draft positions.

That is because Mathews, the supposed-heir-apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego, underwhelmed considerably in his first season in the NFL. So much so that he burned most of his owners, who had to pony up a second round pick in most leagues to grab Mathews.

He had trouble staying healthy. Could not hold onto the football. The continued erosion of the Chargers’ season exacerbated Mathew’s decline and gave backup Mike Tolbert the only opportunity he needed to steal the starting job from Mathews. As of now, Tolbert has not looked back.

In the first preseason game of 2011 (yes, I know it is just preseason), Mathews looked decent. He played several snaps on the opening drive. But Tolbert finished off the drive with a touchdown reception.

Just a sign of things to come again this season, fantasy owners.

Still, the love for Mathews continues. He is being drafted well ahead of Tolbert despite the fact that it was Tolbert who did the lions share of the work in 2010 and figures to play a significant role again this year (These are the only rankings I have seen to date where the two players are back-to-back). Only an injury to Tolbert would give this job to Mathews, and as of right now he is the most prone to getting hurt.

So is it too soon to call Mathews a bust? Fantasy owners seem to be giving him a second chance at a not-t00-reduced cost this season. But another burn campaign by Mathews will destroy his 2012 value and throw him straight into the post-hype camp.

Maybe then, fantasy owners can finally get Mathews for a decent value.

Here are today’s great reads:

  • Lots of good running back stories coming at you this morning. First, a running back primer for the 2011 season. Great piece of advice in this story: Load up on running backs this year. Get a deep bench, and you are sure to hit on at least one or two players. [CBSSports.com]
  • The battle for carries in the Green Bay backfield between Ryan Grant and James Starks is heating up. I know Starks got a lot of buzz last postseason, but was it mainly because he was the only running back the Packers really had at that point? Did he look at that great or were we just enamored with something new? [Roto Arcade]
  • The rookie class of running backs is a little underwhelming if you go by average draft position. No Ryan Mathews or Jahvid Best this season. But Mark Ingram could become the best producing back of the bunch and might be one of the bigger steals in fantasy drafts. [SI.com]
  • Going in the mid-to-late first round of many fantasy drafts, LeSean McCoy is poised to become the next stud running back in fantasy football circles. He does not come without risk, though. [National Football Post]
  • Something a little different: More fantasy football links! [Fantasy Football Librarian]

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