Ryan Mathews emerges as ‘bell cow’ back for 2014

Mathews is the ‘bell-cow’: To say San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has had a tumultuous start to his career is an understatement for the ages. Mathews went from looking like a perennial Pro Bowler to having more broken collarbones (two) than touchdowns (one) in 2012. However, 2013 rolled around and the Fresno State product proved he had what it takes to produce in the NFL — and fantasy — by rushing for over 1,200 yards with six scores. That was good enough for a 12th place finish in fantasy scoring among running backs. This offseason, the Chargers brought in Donald Brown to create a crowded backfield with Mathews and Danny Woodhead, but Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has reassured fantasy players by stating that “Ryan is out bell cow. He’s our No. 1 back.” As reassuring as that is, the presence of Brown doesn’t bode well for Mathews if he slips up again. However, seeing as he is in a contract year and fared well last year sharing touches with Woodhead, Mathews should make for a nice mid-round pickup as a No. 2 or No. 3 rusher in fantasy next season.

The Panthers finally found a WR: Panthers fans rejoice! They have finally signed a receiver and it’s … Jerricho Cotchery? It isn’t the No. 1 receiver Cam Newton needs, but it’s at least a start. Cotchery does have 437 catches in the NFL, which is 434 more than the rest of the Panthers current wide receiver corps (per Around the League’s Kevin Patra.) Fantasy owners shouldn’t take too much stock in this signing. Cotchery is a 31-year-old journeyman receiver who will play a nice role for the Panthers in 2014. He just won’t play a nice role on any fantasy teams this fall. Don’t plan on expending a roster spot on Cotchery next fall. He’s merely a bye-week fill-in if you end up hurting at the wide receiver position.

Bye, bye, bionic leg: It’s a slower news day in the NFL and fantasy land, so I’m using this finally space to bid adieu to Rob Bironas. The bionic leg had tapered off in fantasy, finishing 17th and 18th in scoring among kickers the last two seasons, and with a sizable salary cap number, the Titans decided to part ways with the veteran kicker. This really isn’t that fantasy relevant as no one drafts kickers (or shouldn’t, at least) until the last rounds, but for those who remember the feats of kickers (if there are any of you out there besides me) we’ll always have Bironas’ ridiculous eight-field goal day as a glowing memory of his bionic leg.

— Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar

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