2012 Team Outlook: San Diego
QB Philip Rivers, SD - Solid/Safe Pick
Rivers has A-game potential, but there were plenty of B and C level performances during last season's turnover-heavy campaign. As both the quarterback and veteran Chargers look to rebound, look for Rivers to throw early and often. His major objectives will be to move the ball quickly and accurately. Accuracy has been an issue and Rivers and his team have been working on eliminating turnovers. Rivers has a solid running game behind him and he should have every opportunity to make it a great season.
QB Charlie Whitehurst, CLE - Not Draft Worthy
Whitehurst is back to back-up Philp Rivers this season after one away in Seattle. He has the ability to make your standard plays and get the team moving, but is this enough if Rivers falls to injury? Eh, the jury is out, way out.
Whitehurst has been out for a brief period and it appears one to two more weeks while his knee heals.
RB Ryan Mathews, PHI - Stud (low risk)
Some reports put Mathews back on the field in Week 3 of the regular season. I am holding off a bit here until we see how he progresses after the surgery to repair his collarbone. I've seen professional cyclists right back on the bike and racing within a few weeks of such an injury, but we are talking a premiere NFL running back who will be targeted with big hits and susceptible to further injury if he is not fully healed. I think Week 3 is wishful thinking and the San Diego offensive coaches will hold Mathews out at least until Week 4.
Ryan Mathews broke his collarbone on his first preseason carry. This is not good news for those of us who had him ranked high on our draft lists. It appears there will be one heck of a RBBC approach going on in San Diego until Mathews returns. Following his surgery, which was on Friday, Mathews is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. I tend to play it on the cautious side and say we will be waiting at least six weeks to see Mathews suited up. In his stead we will see the aging Ronnie Brown, Curtis Brinkley, Jackie Battle and maybe a few other faces - Jacob Hester
Mathews had his breakout season last year. Look for him to continue to tear it up this season. The only concern reported is his durability. Mathews now has Ronnie Brown to back him up. This should help shoulder the workload. I suspect Mathews will have another stellar season. He is a stud running back. I see no need to worry about Brown. He is an asset in this situation. Mathews will see the bulk of the work and as long as he is productive, we will see this persist.
RB Jackie Battle, --- - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Battle now becomes a super sleeper on my list. With Mathews out 4-6 weeks and Brown and Brinkley working for carries, Battle should factor into the RBBC approach too. Battle can run the ball and be productive under the right set of circumstances, so we will have to wait and see.
RB Curtis Brinkley, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
It appeared that Brinkley was getting his chance to be a solid back-up, then Ronnie Brown arrived. Brinkley will likely lose quite a bit of work to Brown as long as Brown stays healthy and can produce. If there is an injury to Mathews or Brown, Brinkley will see some carries. If not, we will have to see how things play out game to game.
Brinkley moves into a sleeper category at this stage with the injury to Mathews. If Ronnie Brown cannot deliver, we might see much more of Mr. Brinkley than anticipated.
RB Ronnie Brown, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
Brown joins the San Diego squad after a poor season in 2011 in Philly. Does the ex-Dolphin still have any magic left? Perhaps, but how much is the good question. Ryan Mathews tops the Rb depth chart, but Brown will see some carries. In theory, this will be good for both backs; Brown can have an opportunity to show he still has it and the not-so durable Mathews can catch a breather. If he impresses enough during camp, Brown could emerge as decent flex play - especially if he truly inherits Mike Tolbert's role. Not counting it, but someone else will get work here.
Update (8/10): Ryan Mathews suffered a broken collarbone in the Chargers preseason opener and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Brown figures to receive the majority of the workload, though he's hardly been productive in recent campaigns. At least fantasy owners will have a few weeks before having to make a call as to the when and where the backs should be selected.
Update 8/26/12: Brown will be the premiere back in SD's offense until the return of Ryan Mathews. It appears we will see Mathews around Week 3 or 4 of the season as long as his recovery goes as planned.