Fantasy football roundtable: Battle complicates life for Mathews; more
Jackie Battle has replaced Ryan Mathews as the Chargers' goal-line running back
Brian Hartline and Davone Bess have developed value in PPR fantasy leagues
After Chris Johnson's 141-yard week, fantasy owners should try to trade him
The NFL fantasy season is full of decisions. Join SI's roundtable of fantasy experts each week to help sort through the lineup choices, injuries and waiver-wire options that can make or break a season. Each week, we'll also feature a question from our readers, which you are free to submit each Sunday of the season at the @SInow Twitter feed.
1. After being criticized by Chargers GM A.J. Smith for his fumbling issues, Ryan Mathews found himself in a timeshare for carries in Week 4 with Jackie Battle. Should Mathews owners be worried?
Mike Beacom: Mathews is still the future of the franchise, but for now the answer is yes. The Chargers seem content working both backs into the rotation, and until Mathews clearly outperforms Battle that won't change. I'd suggest sitting Mathews for a week or two to see how this plays out.
Will Carroll: Definitely. Mathews has always seemed right on the edge of being a solid fantasy back, but something always seems to get in the way. Usually it's injury, but the fumbling thing seems like a bit of a reach. Mathews is coming back from a collarbone fracture and that can affect a lot of things or cause the kind of unconscious flinch that can result in the hands moving. Mathews has talent and Battle is ... well, he's the kind of guy you want as an RB3. I don't think this particular issue will last, but at some point, Mathews is just too much of a risk to keep waiting and hoping. Worse for Smith, is there any team in the NFL that would trade for Mathews?
Eric Mack: Yes, because we were promised a breakthrough year. Instead, we have gotten a breakdown year. Mathews is not only sharing carries and dealing with fumbling issues, but now he has surrendered the goal-line back role to the bigger, more trusty Battle. That will cut into Mathews' fantasy value more than a mere timeshare. Touchdowns are what makes a decent fantasy running back a great one. We were hoping for greatness, but we have gotten mediocrity at best.
David Sabino: I would be. Mathews was highly touted during the offseason but I've never bought into the idea that he's an every-down back. He seems to thrive when sharing the load with a bigger, more powerful goal-line type runner like a Mike Tolbert or now a Battle. With the success the Chargers are having with this backfield setup, I'd be surprised to see it change anytime soon.
2. The Dolphins' passing offense exploded against a tough Cardinals defense. Who do you trust to continue the good times in Miami?
Beacom: Other than Reggie Bush, I wouldn't put a single Dolphins player in my lineup. Brian Hartline? Maybe save him a spot on my roster as a No. 4 receiver. Ryan Tannehill? Not a chance. On occasion, good things happen to average players and below-average units. They're called flukes.
Carroll: Hartline had a career day, but is this a signal or noise? Hartline is the clear WR1 and there appears to be a good connection between quarterback and receiver. I know a lot of people didn't see this coming because Hartline managed to avoid the Hard Knocks cameras completely. Hartline manages to get just open enough and Tannehill manages to get him the ball. Doing that against a tough defense indicates that the simple mechanics can continue absent a major change. So yes, I'm buying on Hartline; not at ridiculous levels, but I do think he's a solid WR2 on most fantasy teams right now.
Mack: There were some surprises in this Dolphins offense Sunday, for sure. Bush can be a factor and Tannehill showed enough to make Hartline and Davone Bess viable options in PPR leagues. There won't be another 400-yard passing day for the Dolphins this season -- we shouldn't have expected even one -- but you can consider Hartline and Bess solid possession receivers in a rhythm Joe Philbin passing game. Get them now in PPR leagues, especially as bye weeks affect the depth of your rosters.
Sabino: There's no doubt that Philbin's and Mike Sherman's offense is based on throwing the ball a lot and that can only be good news for the fantasy values of Dolphins players. I've been high on Hartline since the offseason and already have him on my roster (although, unfortunately, on my bench this week). Bess is also a quality player to have stashed at the end of your bench, especially in PPR leagues. However there are still many more attractive options than Tannehill, who despite 431 passing yards, still found himself out of the top 15 quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points of for the week.
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SI Now Live Monday December 9, 2013