2014 Chargers Fantasy Football Preview: Running Backs

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting the fantasy football value of the San Diego Chargers running backs for the upcoming season.

I decided to take a break from studying for my many finals, to write about some San Diego Chargers football. Here is my weekly article for you! I hope you enjoy it!

Ryan Mathews

Ryan Mathews excelled with the zone blocking scheme that Joe D'Alessandris implemented as the Offensive Line Coach.

Unfortunately Mathews was hindered by an injury in the playoffs, as has been the story of his career, but he seemed to be pretty durable throughout the regular season (this year). Ryan Mathews will once again be on everyone's radar, because there aren't many running backs out there that are as talented as he is, and lets be honest...most fantasy football players aren't smart enough to remember that he has injury problems. Hopefully, he has put that behind him with our new strength and conditioning coaches and our new team Doctor.

Ryan Mathews will probably be used a bit more next season, because when San Diego really pounded the ball, they came away with the "W's." At the same time, his production might drop a little bit, because the Chargers are a playoff contender, they want to keep his legs fresh, and TT will either draft or sign a free agent running back to take some of the load off.

I would feel safe drafting Mathews, as long as you have someone who is going to consistently put up points on bench behind him. You just never know with Ryan. He's a mid to high risk, high reward kind of guy.

UPDATE: I took a few TD's away from my original prediction (9) because of the Donald Brown signing.

Last Season:

Rushing: 285 Rush, 1255 Yds, 6 TD's, 2 Fum

Receiving: 26 Rec, 189 YDS, 1 TD

Prediction:

Rushing: 250 Rush, 1100 Yds, 7 TD's, 2 fum

Receiving: 20 Rec. 170 YDS, 1 TD

Outlook: Late 1st, Early 2nd Round

Danny Woodhead

Danny Woodhead came in and San Diego Charger fans immediately fell in love with the guy. From his calm demeanor in interviews, to his shaggy dog appearance, to the way he put everything on the field, he ran right into our hearts.

Arguably the best signing by Tom Telesco in free agency last year, I believe he had more of an impact on this team than Ken Whisenhunt did. Yes, Whiz implemented the plays, but Woodhead executed, and fought for those extra yards.

Danny Woodhead had 86 balls thrown his way, and caught 76 of them this year, and that's pretty impressive. I think his production might dip just a tiny bit, because we'll have better receivers next year for Philip Rivers to throw the ball to, but make no mistake, Rivers loves this guy, and will continue to give him ample amounts of looks.

UPDATE: Danny Woodhead will probably lose rushing attempts to Donald Brown, as Brown is a more physical, punishing back who can fill in when Mathews is resting/out. I gave Woodhead more catches than my original (70) because they're going to get him on the field and the ball in his hands any way they can.

Last Season:

Rushing: 106 Rush, 429 YDS, 2 TD's, 1 Fum

Receiving: 76 Rec, 605 YDS, 6 TD's ,1 Fum

Prediction:

Rushing: 50 Att. 210 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: 80 Rec, 650 YDS, 7 TD's, 1 Fum

Outlook: 3rd to 4th Round

I do not endorse starting "Scat backs" like Darren Sproles and Woodhead on a weekly basis. Some weeks they will put up 3 points, and some days they will put up 20. Danny's not going to consistently get touches, so I'd draft him a bit later, and start him matchup-based in your flex spot, in a standard league. In a PPR league, he should definitely be starting every week.

Donald Brown

The Chargers signed Donald Brown from the Colts to a 3 year contract on Tuesday, the first day of Free Agency.

Brown is definitely a capable runner, and has good hands out of the backfield. He can come in for either Mathews or Woodhead, and he is sort of a mixture between the two. He won't have much of an effect on Woodhead's catches, but I could see the coaches giving Mathews and Woodhead a few less carries, as Donald Brown is legitimately a good, strong running back, who can handle it, and won't cause a huge drop off in production.

Woodhead won't have to run the ball so much, because we'll have another physical back who is made for that kind of play, keeping Woodhead fresh for his catch and runs.

Last Season:

Rushing: 102 Rush, 537 YDS, 6 TD

Receiving: 27 Rec, 214 YDS, 2 TD

This Season:

Rushing: 90 Rush, 400 YDS, 4 TD

Receiving: 20 catch, 160 YDS, 1 TD

Outlook: Undrafted

Not someone to pick up in fantasy unless Mathews goes down. He won't make a huge difference fantasy-wise, and will not consistently put up numbers, but I would keep an eye on him during the season.

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