You feel pretty good when your starting fantasy quarterback has a matchup against the Raiders. Who wouldn’t right? So when you see Philip Rivers against the Raiders this week, you think automatic start, and put him down for 25 fantasy points. (Or 25.48782347801 points if you use that annoying fractional function on the NFL.com scoring default.)
But Rivers is not as big of a lock as you would think.
In fact, Rivers does not dominate the hated Raiders as much as you would believe. Rivers has not topped 300 passing yards in eight starts against the Raiders. He has had multiple touchdown passes against the Raiders only twice (and not since 2008). Rivers has nine passing touchdowns in eight games.
No, when it comes to the dominating the Raiders — and the Chargers have won 13 consecutive games against the Autumn Wind — it was really LaDainian Tomlinson and the running game. So figure the Chargers to heavily use RBs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert against the Raiders this week. And why not, only the Bills are worse against the run than the Raiders.
Remember, Texans RB Arian Foster sat our the entire first quarter last week against the Raiders and still put up a highly productive fantasy outing. Expect the same from Mathews and Tolbert. Chargers coach Norv Turner has said that Mathews is still his guy, but the team certainly is not going to rush him back into a heavy workload. And Tolbert has done enough to justify carries.
So feel free to use Mathews as a No. 2 back, and Tolbert in a flex spot. But Rivers? Hard to sit your stars, no doubt, but he does figure to hand off a lot.
– Adam Rank