Fantasy football mailbag
LaDainian Tomlinson's 5.3 YPC may be hard to maintain as long season wears on
Ryan Mathews will get bulk of carries but may lose goal-line touches for Chargers
Matt Schaub behind last season's pace but still in line for 4,100 yards and 24 TDs
Each week I'll attempt to bring some clarity to your questions about the pigskin and the men who throw, catch, run and kick it. To reach me with questions, scroll down to the end of the piece where you can find my e-mail address.
What's your take on a deal of LaDainian Tomlinson straight up for Ryan Mathews? I hate to give up the touchdowns of LT, but I like what Mathews is starting to do.
-- Michael, Texas
I'm on record as the anti-LT this season. To be fair, about 90 percent of the football world held the same position three months ago. LT has been a stud thus far with five scores and an average of 81.7 yards per game on the ground, but can he keep it up? LT hasn't rushed for more than 4.7 YPC in each of the past three seasons (he was in the 3's the past two years), so you have to worry about his ability to maintain his 5.3 mark (it would tie a career-best). It should also be pointed out that though he has averaged 15 carries a game this season, that isn't exactly a huge workload for a supposed RB1. Shonn Greene has also started to assert himself, averaging 5.3 YPC over the past three weeks. Will the young legs of Greene hold up better than the old legs of LT as the season wears on?
Mathews received his first double-digit carry outing since opening day in Week 6. He has also averaged at least 5.2 YPC in four of the five games that he has played this season. He has been every bit as explosive as expected with only injuries limiting him to this point. Alas, Mike Tolbert continues to vulture looks. On the plus side, Tolbert has seen his carry total dip three-straight weeks (from 17 to 16, 12 and 3), but he has scored a touchdown in three-straight games as the Chargers seem intent on using him at the goal line. It still seems like Mathews is about ready to resume the role he filled in Week 1 -- that of the featured back (he had 21 touches).
I've said it all year, so I might as well stick to it. I don't think LT has any chance to extend, over the duration of 16 games, what he has done so far. I think Greene will continue to assert himself to the point that it's at least an even split for touches in the second half, a situation I don't see happening in San Diego, where Mathews seems like the lead dog. Tolbert stealing goal-line looks makes me nervous, but I'm still going with the younger Mathews, who is in a more explosive offense over the all-time great that is Tomlinson.
I'm in a bind this week because of the byes. I need to pick up a quarterback. Do I drop Danny Woodhead or Mike Williams (Seattle) to grab Matt Cassel?
-- Gerald, Fresno, Calif.
First off, Cassel is an excellent add for Week 7 since he and the Chiefs are facing the Jaguars who can't stop anyone through the air (they have allowed an average of 264 yards a game -- 28th in the league -- and have surrendered 14 passing touchdowns in six games which is two more scores than any other club). Cassel has also thrown for six touchdowns against just one interception the past three weeks, and in his lone career matchup against the Jags he went for 262 yards and two scores. Cassel could very well be the best quarterback option this week that is on the majority of waiver-wires.
As for the player to drop ...
Woodhead is coming off the best game of his brief NFL career with 11 carries for 63 yards. In addition to his rushing totals, Woodhead also hauled in five passes for 52 yards. He has also scored two touchdowns in the past three Patriots' games. Clearly, if he wasn't picked up off waivers last week, he's sure to be one of the hotter pick-ups this week. However, it's always a fluid situation in the Patriots backfield. Woodhead is clearly the team's change of pace back for the moment, but how much playing time will he lose when Fred Taylor returns from his toe issue?
Williams will apparently take on a bigger role now that Deion Branch is out of town. No Seahawks receiver had more than four targets in Week 6 other than Williams, who was targeted a rather remarkable 14 times which led to 10 catches and 123 yards in the best game of his career. Still, keep three things in mind with Williams: (1) He didn't play a single NFL game in 2008 or 2009. How will his body hold up to a full season of punishment? (2) In 35 career games he has scored two times, including none in his last 13 games; (3) Entering Week 6 this year he had a total of 11 catches for 138 yards.
I'll answer the question like this. If you have RB depth, drop Woodhead. If you have WR depth, drop Williams. I don't think either is shaping up to be an every week starter in standard-sized leagues, though both do have value as depth options.
I've had it with Matt Schaub. He's really let me down. I've been offered Mark Sanchez and Donald Driver for him. Should I accept it and get rid of the headache?
-- Brandon, Raleigh, N.C.
I think Schaub's struggles are being blown out of proportion by most people, especially since Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones and Owen Daniels have all been struggling with injuries. First, Schaub currently has a better QB Rating than Aaron Rodgers (93.0 to 89.7). Second, Schaub has passed for more yards than Eli Manning (1,546 to 1,479). Third, Schaub has the same number of touchdown passes as early-season darling Kyle Orton (they both have nine). Sure, Schaub is behind his pace from last season,when he went off for a league leading 4,770 yards and tossed 29 TDs, but his current pace would still net him totals of 4,100 yards and 24 scores. Those numbers will play in any league.
As "good" as Sanchez has been, his numbers aren't a match for those of Schaub. Take a look.
Sanchez: 1,110 yards, 9 TDs, 55.4 Comp.%, 86.4 QB Rating
Schaub: 1,538 yards, 9 TDs, 64.5 Comp.%, 93.0 QB Rating
On top of the numbers, I know of no "expert" who would dream of comparing Sanchez to Schaub.
Driver started off hot with three scores in four weeks, but he has been held out of the end zone the past two weeks, and he has caught only 10 passes the past three weeks. In addition, only once this season has he produced more than 61 yards, and three times he hasn't even hit 40 yards. Driver is also slated to miss practice time this week with a quadriceps injury but that's what happens when you play football and are 35 years old.
In other words, hold on to Schaub and turn the deal down.
Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Fanball.com Owners Edge andRotoTimes.com. His work can be found weekly, exclusively at the home of fantasy football: Fanball.com. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear Ray's thoughts at the Fanball.com Sirius XM Homepage. (Ray is the co-host of a daily radio show on XM 147 and Sirius 211 satellite radio).