Adam Levitan

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More for Mathews?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Ryan Mathews didn’t have his “A” game going against the Chiefs Thursday night. He failed to break some weak tackles, danced in the backfield at times and only busted one big run. He also rolled an ankle and had to get taped up before returning. It’s standard stuff that happens to elite players over the course of a season.

The biggest concern with Mathews now is usage. Ronnie Brown has played shockingly well as the third-down and two-minute drill back. The Chargers trust him in that role. It caps Mathews’ upside because Brown sucks up all of Philip Rivers’ dumpoffs. Jackie Battle also continues to handle all short-yardage work. Mathews isn’t going to get those short touchdown plunges.

Mathews is still going to push for 15-18 touches weekly and will be among the most productive per-touch backs in the league. There’s still a ton to like. But expectations have been lowered to the RB2 range for me – solely because of usage.

* Jamaal Charles took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit after a fourth-quarter reception and stayed down for a few minutes. He did pop up and run off the field, but he never got back in the game. The Chiefs called it a neck injury. If Charles were to miss time, Shaun Draughn and Peyton Hillis would share the load. Note that Charles did say he could have come back in if it were a closer contest.

* Dwayne Bowe gets open at will and is really tough after the catch. He’s in a decent spot because Matt Cassel loves throwing to him and the Chiefs are trailing big in every game. Perhaps Bowe, an impending free agent, will stick around so he can catch passes from Geno Smith or Matt Barkley next year.

* Antonio Gates burned Eric Berry in one-on-one coverage for a 14-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. After that, the Chiefs used a ton of bracket coverage on Gates.

* The pregame/postgame guys on NFL Network made it sound like Robert Meachem’s (hamstring) absence was a big deal. Perhaps they don’t realize Meachem has been one of the worst starting wideouts in the NFL this season. The Chargers won’t stick with Danario Alexander, but he might give them a better chance.

* Hopefully you spot-started the Chargers’ D/ST this week. They are going to win a lot of owners the week with two defensive touchdowns. Which reminds me to eliminate the D/ST and K positions from my leagues next season.

Prior to this season, the NFL pushed its trading deadline back two weeks. The idea was that more teams would know if they’re buying or selling, making more trades possible. Kind of like the deadline in a keeper fantasy league, or MLB’s deadline. In theory, it’s a good idea. It turned out to be a dud.

DeAngelo Williams stayed put, Steven Jackson wasn’t dealt and LeGarrette Blount stuck. Heck, even Dion Lewis was spared. The only real deal was pulled off by the Patriots, the one franchise that actually thinks outside the box. They picked up a Pro Bowl kind of talent in CB Aqib Talib from the Bucs in exchange for a fourth- and seventh-round pick.

So Williams will sulk as Jonathan Stewart’s backup the rest of the way. Jackson will share the load with youngster Daryl Richardson. And Blount will languish on the bench behind a surging Doug Martin. Another yawner of a trade deadline.

Andy Reid finally took the podium on Thursday and said that he never thought about changing quarterbacks. He claimed Michael Vick is his guy for the rest of the season. In a related story, I’ve been having an affair with Selena Gomez. Apparently, she has a thing for FSWA winners. Who knew.

I guess I understand why Reid feels the need to lie to the media consistently. He doesn’t want the headline to read “Eagles confirm they have no faith in Michael Vick.” But we just need to realize that he’s not speaking the truth. See Reid’s comments regarding Juan Castillo the day before he got fired. Or his words about Kevin Kolb before he was yanked in favor of Michael Vick a few years back.

Virtually every media outlet covering the Eagles believes Vick will lose his job to Nick Foles if the Eagles lose in New Orleans on Monday night. The Saints are three-point favorites. Adjust accordingly.

When DeMarco Murray went down with a foot sprain in Week 6, he downplayed the injury. The Cowboys didn’t give a timeline, but said it wasn’t a serious issue. Well, now we’re in Week 9 and Murray hasn’t put in a single practice. At this point, we have to worry about two things: The sprain is worse than anyone has said (a la Darren McFadden last year) and Murray has fallen out of shape.

Meanwhile, Felix Jones is living up to his nickname. He’s nursing both knee and shoulder injuries, leaving the Cowboys worried about his status/effectiveness. They’d be crazy not to give Phillip Tanner a big part of the workload Sunday night even if Jones ends up active.

Donald Brown (knee) did not practice Thursday. There’s no word if it’s a setback or maintenance. Brown was slated to share the load evenly with Vick Ballard Sunday. … The remarkably durable Darren Sproles missed practice with a hand injury. It’s probably nothing serious. … Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) returned to a limited practice Thursday. He appears healthier than last week. … Beanie Wells (toe) remains on track to return Week 12. … Mikel Leshoure (personal, leg) got in a full practice. He’ll handle early-down work and Joique Bell will be in for all passing situations. … The Steelers are tentatively expected to start Jonathan Dwyer with Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) highly questionable. Isaac Redman would be the third-down back.

Percy Harvin (personal, hamstring) is fully expected to play Sunday. … Ryan Tannehill (knee) has had his knee drained twice. Impossible to trust this week, even as a QB2. … Dez Bryant (hip) is very sore, but should be fine for Sunday. … Calvin Johnson is taking care of his knee by sitting out practice this week. No worries. … Brandon LaFell (concussion) doesn’t look like he’ll be cleared for Sunday. … Danny Amendola (clavicle) guaranteed he’ll play Week 10.

Mike Thomas is ticketed for a “utility” role in Detroit. Ryan Broyles’ slot job is safe. … James Starks is seeing increased reps in Packers practice. It’s not a surprise considering how awful Alex Green has been. … The Ravens are hinting at more carries for Ray Rice going forward. They know they need to control the clock more with their defense in shambles.  

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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