San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews is coming off three straight games of at least 112 yards rushing after four straight games under 112 total yards.
So which Mathews are we going to get Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15?
Well, the Ravens are ranked second in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (85.8). They have allowed just six rushing touchdowns all season and are No. 3 in scoring defense at 15.5 points allowed per game.
Hope for Mathews to get something done in the receiving game since it is unlikely he will have much success getting in the end zone — carries Mike Tolbert will likely steal anyway. Mathews has 45 catches on 53 targets for 420 yards and no scores this season. He racked up nearly half of those catches and a majority of those yards — 19 for 254 — in the first four weeks. And in those four games, he had rushing totals of 45, 64, 98 and 81.
Mathews finally broke threw with a 100-yard game in Week 5 against Denver, racking up 125 yards on 24 carries, but he managed just one catch for seven yards.
So the trend with Mathews is: if he’s rushing well he’s not catching much. If he’s not rushing well — say under the 85.8 the Ravens are allowing — then his catches are at least helping offset the lack of production as a runner. Mathews has been under 85.8 yards rushing in seven games this season and in those seven he’s averaged 4.3 receptions for 45.9 yards and 51 rushing yards for 12.7 fantasy points in Athlon’s half-PPR scoring format.
Look for Sunday night to certainly be a low-rushing day. The Ravens have only allowed two backs to get above the 85.8 rushing yards a game they allow — Maurice Jones-Drew had 105 yards in Week 7 and Marshawn Lynch had 109 yards and a score in Week 10. Four backs have at least 50 receiving yards against the Ravens since Week 6 — three of them coming since Week 10.
So there is hope for Mathews if he’s used as a runner and receiver, and the numbers on his poor rushing days suggest he can still get you to double digits.
It depends on what you want Mathews for this week. He is probably a mid-level RB2 who you start ahead of Marion Barber, Ryan Grant, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Rashard Mendenhall, C.J. Spiller, any Cleveland RB, any Kansas City RB.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter