The San Diego Chargers are 4-1 and heading into a bye, but that doesn't stop them from dominating your interest in this week's fantasy mailbag.
I have been very skeptical of Mathews starting early last season because I've only seen him on a handful of impressive runs. And up until the past two weeks when Norv Turner has given him a steady diet of carries -- aided in part by the concussion suffered by backfield mate Mike Tolbert in Denver -- I've been very comfortable with my assessment. However his recent surge has moved him into sixth place in rushing (with Matt Forte still to play tonight) and while Tolbert has received 16 red zone carries, compared to just seven for Mathews, the latter is outscoring his larger teammate -- three touchdowns to two -- close to the goal line. So here's a pledge: barring something unforeseen, starting with the Chargers first game after the bye I'll have him rated pretty high, especially against the run-stop challenged Jets.
Beyond his misses against the Niners in Week 4, Henery faces two big problems. The first is Michael Vick's new habit of turning the ball over. The Eagles rank No. 1 in the NFL with 15 turnovers through five games, 10 of which are pinned directly on Vick's jersey. And although Henery is among the league leaders with 12 field goal attempts thus far, only once has he tried a kick over 40 yards, which he missed. While other owners are racking up 40-40 and 50+ bonuses in your league from Sebastian Janikowski, Jason Hanson and Dan Bailey, you're dinking and dunking three points at a time. If Novak's still available, I'd scoop him up for Week 7. For Week 6, Gould (barring injury) is a great play against a Vikings team that's given up the second-most kicking points this season.
All indications are that Antonio Gates will return from his plantar fasciitis for Week 7 following the Chargers bye. So it's not much of a wait to really see if he'll return as the player we all thought we drafted. Most athletes who suffer from this ailment claim that whether of not they play is just a matter of how much pain they can endure and with the Chargers in the thick of the AFC playoff race, he'll be able to endure more than if he were on the Eagles or Colts right now. I hold onto him.
I would try to trade Torain. His breakout game is still fresh in people's minds and he hasn't had a chance to fall back to Earth since the Redskins have been on a bye. As part of the Shanahan three-headed monster with Tim Hightower and Roy Helu, there's just no telling who will be Washington's lead back from week to week. Mathews is your No. 1 and you'd be selling low on the inconsistent Jones and Thomas. I believe the latter will have a good second half of the season now that Chad Henne is out for the year and the 0-4 Dolphins will be more committed to the ground game, Tony Sparano's bread and butter, with the coach's job on the line.
The Broncos appear to have made a switch from Kyle Orton to Tim Tebow, which puts into question the value of every Bronco. Eric Decker is tied for just 28th in receptions and 38th in yards but his four touchdowns have him ranked as the 12th best fantasy wide receiver in PPR leagues. Decker's short routes and ability to get open in small spaces will be a perfect compliment for Tebow's scrambling style and I certainly see him getting a boost. I would wait a couple of weeks and then deal him after his value soars.
Although I see the merits in trading for the über-talented Dez Bryant, I think giving up Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter in a tight running back market is simply giving up too much. Mario Manningham is a slight improvement over Devery Henderson (especially now that the always frustrating Saint finds himself behind Jimmy Graham, Marcus Colston, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles on Drew Brees' list of priority targets) but I hope you don't have to turn to Jay Cutler as your starting QB past today.
That group is tailor-made to play the best matchups so there is no constant starter. Of the group I like Denarius Moore the best but as we discussed earlier, Decker has a lot of value. I also like Mike Thomas to have a good season as Blaine Gabbert gets more accustomed to being an NFL quarterback. The only one that's a concern is the oft-injured Harvin, who is saddled by the Vikings inability to successfully throw the ball with the alarmingly inaccurate Donovan McNabb (56.8%, 26th) at the helm.
Thanks, Luis. The proposal basically deals the Jets 30th-ranked backfield for the Redskins eighth-ranked attack. However they're very different in composition with Shonn Green clearly the starter and LT2 the backup for New York while the Redskins are splitting the duty, if not equally, at least one game to another. Call me crazy but I think the Jets are going to right the rushing ship before long and Mike Shanahan will continue to frustrate fantasy owners as he's done for years. Therefore I'd make the move.