DynastyFootball

The Mass Exodus from the Ryan Mathews Hype Train Means He’s Finally a Bargain

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After reading this excellent piece about Ryan Mathews’ redraft value, I decided I needed to dig a little deeper and tackle him from a dynasty angle. Also, I own him on 50% of my dynasty teams and I need to convince myself to stop crying.

We all know how awful Mathews was last season. He had more broken clavicles than touchdowns. He averaged 3.8 yards per carry. He shied away from contact, like a running back version of Ted Ginn. So why on earth would you go back to the well? To find out, we need to look back at Mathews’ career as a whole. I mean, there’s a reason he was hyped as a top 5 dynasty back last year, right?

Player

Year

Gs

ATTs

YDs

YPC

TDs

Points

Finish

Ryan Mathews

2010

12

158

678

4.3

7

143.8

RB32

Ryan Mathews

2011

14

222

1,091

4.9

6

238.1

RB7

Ryan Mathews

2012

12

184

707

3.8

1

139.9

RB30

So what does this table tell us? In 100% of his seasons when he wasn’t a rookie and had a non-broken collarbone, Mathews finished as a RB1. Okay, that might be slightly misleading, but the point is, Mathews has done it before. He was the RB7 two years ago! How many running backs in their mid-20’s with 1 season of RB1 production can you get in the 4th round or later? I checked, there aren’t any (except Mathews, of course). Let’s delve a little deeper and look at Mathews’ production on a per snap/opportunity basis:

Player

Year

PPS*

Rank

PPO*

Rank

Ryan Mathews

2010

0.52

1

0.58

5

Ryan Mathews

2011

0.47

5

0.52

8

Ryan Matthews

2012

0.35

25

0.39

44

*PPS stands for points per snap, and PPO stands for points per opportunity, which is the number of points divided by the number of carries and pass routes run. Courtesy ProFootballFocus. Number of backs based on players who played at least 25% of team snaps.

In 2010 and 2011, Mathews was actually incredibly productive per snap/opportunity. Last year, he took a major nosedive, and was around 25% less efficient. But still good. Has there ever been a better time to break out the #Regression hashtag?

To recap, in the 4th round, there’s a running back who’s posted two top 10 rankings on a micro-level and has one top 10 season overall. Got it. I’m expecting Mathews to perform better in the red zone as well after looking at this table:

Year

RZ ATTs

RZ YDs

RZ YPC

RZ TDs

RZ TD%

2010

17

78

4.59

4

23.53%

2011

19

50

2.63

5

26.32%

2012

15

49

3.27

1

6.67%

Roughly a quarter of Mathews’ red zone attempts went for touchdowns in his first 2 years, but last year he scored a touchdown on less than 7% of his carries there. Since 2010, Mathews has received 23.94%, 27.94%, and 27.78% of the red zone carries. His usage has remained steady, he just didn’t score on the level he had in the past. Mathews certainly must shoulder some of the blame for his poor 2012 season, but is it possible that the team around him was responsible for some percentage of his awful year?

ProFootballFocus Grade

2010

2011

2012

Phillip Rivers

29.7

25.3

-4.5

Offensive Line

8.7

-28.8

-36.5

Wide Receivers

21.9

14.5

11.1

Mathews was drafted into a team that was quickly deteriorating. The Chargers have hemorrhaged talent at every position, but most notably on the offensive line, which was the 28th worst in the league last year. Phillip Rivers looked like a shell of his former self last year, and had it not been for the miracle that is Danario Alexander’s duct-taped knees, the wide receiver grade would have been much worse. According to Brian Burke’s Advanced NFL Stats blog, the Chargers ranked 4th, 7th, and finally 23rd in Offensive Expected Points Added over the last 3 years.  The entire offense tanked last year from an efficiency standpoint, putting on a clinic for aspiring dumpster fires everywhere. This is not to say that all of the blame for Mathews’ poor season lies elsewhere… but you’d have trouble finding someone who thought that A.J. Smith did a great job managing the team.

With Ryan Mathews, you’re getting a player with all the upside of popular breakout candidates David Wilson (ADP 2.12) and Lamar Miller (ADP 3.01) with much less risk. DeMarco Murray and Darren McFadden, two backs with a similar checkered injury history, are going a full round ahead of him. Eddie Lacy, he of the fused big toe and poor conditioning, is going 3 picks before him! Mathews has 4 things going for him:

(1)    He’s already had 1 season of RB1 production

(2)    He was drafted in the 1st round

(3)    His Speed Score is awesome

(4)    There’s no competition on the roster

While most of your league mates are foolishly declaring that they’ll never touch Ryan Mathews again, pounce on the opportunity and take Ryan Mathews as your high upside RB3.

 

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By Coleman Kelly | @coleman_ff | Archive

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