The Battle cry has been sounded. Much to the disappointment of Ryan Mathews owners, Jackie Battle got the nod as the San Diego Chargers' running back in Week 4 against his former team, the Kansas City Chiefs. This is especially perplexing since most of you snagged Mathews as your No. 1 back in either the first or second round.
Nicholas Minnix voiced his minor concerns with Mathews' fumbling issues and how it might hinder his production and development as a stud running back. In case you're unaware, Mathews had a costly fumble near the goal line early in the embarrassing loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3. Not that it mattered much in the final outcome of that contest, but this isn't a new issue, and San Diego won't put up with it any longer.
Michael Bush 2.0
Norv Turner and the coaching staff - the front office probably had a bigger say in this - made the move to bench Mathews as a result - to send a message. As a Mathews owner, forget about whether this move will cause him to play tight or cough the football up even more. What you should be worried about is if he can even earn the starting role back.
Battle must be owned, especially if you have Mathews on roster. Battle has produced, you can't argue. Four touchdowns in three weeks is tough to overlook. In total against the Chiefs, he had 81 yards on 15 carries and four catches. Battle added a rushing and receiving TD.
However, he tallied only a 2.6-yard-per-carry average in the starting role. He was much more affective on his four grabs (10.5 average). Mathews had only one less carry than Battle, although much of his work came in the second half when the Bolts were comfortably ahead. Regardless, Mathews had 61 yards rushing and added two catches for 21 yards.
The good news is Mathews didn't look tentative, and aside from Battle's two scores, I thought Mathews looked more effective out of the backfield than Battle did. It's unclear if this arrangement of Battle starting and Mathews mixing in will continue for a few more weeks or the whole season, but I don't see how Mathews doesn't return to a starting role soon if he proves he can hang onto the ball. He's been working on ways to correct his fumblitis, too, so that has to have you encouraged.
Battle is effective, though, so San Diego won't completely abandon him if Mathews returns as the lead back, whenever that will be. It could be as soon as this week against an extremely weak New Orleans Saints defense, though. As evidenced by his four scores in the past three weeks, Battle has a nose for the end zone. I'm calling him Michael Bush 2.0 because I think that's what he'll be for the rest of the year. Mathews will score, but Battle will take many of the opps near the goal line because of his more physical rushing style.
This would be an excellent time to buy low on Mathews if his owner is doubting his potential for the rest of the year. Mathews will come back strong from this timeout session, mark my words. Everyone and their mother will be putting claims in on Battle, so good luck on that one.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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