Look for Ryan Mathews to break out in 2012

If you’ve been following my fantasy posts for awhile, you know how much I loved Ryan Mathews during his rookie season. OK, so that prediction left egg on my face. But he did display the upside I saw in him last year, catching 50 passes, rushing for 1,091 yards and scoring six touchdowns in 14 games. In 2012, he’s going to get his chance to become a real fantasy football monster.

The San Diego Chargers now appear set to give him a featured role, agreeing to a contract with fullback Le’Ron McClain that ends Mike Tolbert’s stint with the franchise. McClain isn’t the same offensive threat as Tolbert, who put a major dent into Mathews’ opportunities and fantasy value last season. Assuming the Bolts don’t go out and grab another running back, which isn’t completely out of the question, Mathews is going to be in a position to succeed.

Not only does he have two full seasons of NFL experience under his belt, but the Fresno State product also has one of the most favorable schedules (based on 2011 fantasy points) among running backs. I’m not sure I’d invest a first-round pick in him in a 10-team league, but Mathews seems destined to be one of the first 12-15 overall picks in 2012 fantasy drafts.

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