When I hear the words "high-ankle sprain" in relation to a starting running back and his availability for the coming week, it certainly does not inspire confidence that said player will be available for immediate and successful action. Such is the case with San Diego Chargers rookie Ryan Mathews; he says he might play through the ankle injury this week, but he did not practice Thursday, and I don't like the momentum of this situation. I removed Mathews from my running back rankings on Friday morning, and wouldn't even expect this to be a game-time decision. It seems really unlikely he'll be able to perform Sunday.
Bulky fullback Mike Tolbert has been getting all the fantasy attention this week, and it's basically because he received a cool 16 carries, turning them into 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns, in relief of Mathews in Week 2. Hey, good for Tolbert. He's big, tough and the case can be made that the veteran has already usurped the goal-line carries even when Mathews is 100 percent. However, I'm not totally buying Tolbert as "the guy" this or any week. He is the third most added player in ESPN leagues, after Jason Snelling (a mistake) and Kevin Walter (not a mistake), but I don't see much upside here.
I do see it with Darren Sproles. Ah, you remember this little guy darting through opposing defenses when the LaDainian Tomlinson era was running down, don't you? Sproles is still a Charger. He has generally disappointed fantasy owners over the years, but he's got skills, and he totaled 100 rushing/receiving yards in Week 2. Why Sproles is being dropped in ESPN leagues is beyond me, because this week he seems like an emerging flex option, someone who can create havoc though the passing game if the team is trailing, but also accumulate double-digit rushes and get you five fantasy points that way.
For more of Eric's thoughts on how the Chargers will manage their running backs, plus rankings changes involving Braylon Edwards, Marshawn Lynch and Beanie Wells, you must be an ESPN Insider!