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The injury bug cropping up for Ryan Mathews again

By Keith Hernandez

Can it get any worse for the San Diego Chargers as they head into a must-win in Week 11 against the division foe Denver Broncos? It just may: Ryan Mathews (neck) has missed the last two days of practice and will likely be at least questionable, if not doubtful, for Sunday's important matchup.

San Diego Chargers RB Ronnie Brown
What can Brown do for you?

For Mathews owners this may be a blessing; his lackluster season has seen him visit the end zone just once and fail to top 100 yards rushing. Oh yeah, and we're reminded again that he's still injury-prone. Uggh. While he's much more valuable in point-per-reception formats, he's still not doing you many favors.

The vicious hit from Tampa Bay Buccaneers 'backer Quincy Black last week seems to have taken its toll on Mathews. That same hit also put Black out for the season. You can start looking for other options if you've been starting Mathews on a weekly basis.

Start with Ronnie Brown. I can't believe I just typed that, but yes, THE Ronnie Brown. Despite the fact that he hasn't received more than six carries or topped 38 yards rushing this year in any one game, he figures to see plenty of work if Mathews is inactive. PPR-leaguers take notice: He's hauled in five or more passes in four games and has caught at least three passes in every game in which he's started.

That ain't too shabby. Denver has allowed the ninth-most receptions to backs this year on average (5.44), and depending on how much the Bolts' defense can slow Peyton Manning and Co. down in the Mile High city, San Diego may be forced to go to the air frequently.

Don't forget about Jackie Battle, either. While Brown has been surprisingly more involved lately, he's definitely not capable of shouldering the entire workload if Mathews doesn't play. It's unclear how Norv Turner might divvy up the carries between Brown and Battle in the absence of Mathews, but keep in mind that the Broncos are allowing the fewest rushing yards per game (54.3) in the last three weeks.

Battle could be good for a cheap touchdown - he has four on the season - but he should be left as a secondary option to Brown and a risky flex play for the desperate Mathews owners.


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