The WN Fantasy Football Report: Is Rishard Matthews a must start?

I love the fact that people turn to me for fantasy football advice. The ultimate reward is that the same people have kept coming back to me for the better part of three years. Where I once felt a lot of pressure to make sure I got the right people in their lineup, or told them to hold off on a trade that didn’t make sense, I’ve grown confident in my projections. For that, I thank you.

That’s why I try to choose some of the questions that are frequently asked of me in a post. Maybe you, dear reader, are pondering the same thing. Can you go to CBS Sportsline? Sure. Absolutely. They are reliable, to an extent, but they are aimed to the masses, rarely discussing the little guys that can be that ultimate x-factor. I’m just like you. I’m a fantasy geek that has been at this for 18 years, and when I look at a player, I see a number, not an athlete.

This isn’t real football, this is all about numbers. I don’t care about pedigree, I don’t care about wing span or how sick a one-handed catch you can make. All I care about is results.

When it comes to Rishard Matthews, all we have seen are results. They aren’t the kind of results that will make him a high draft pick next year, but they are the kind of results that could provide your offense with an extra spark in the second half of the season… at the right position.

It’s funny. People are talking about how over the past two weeks, we have seen a different Dolphins team. That’s so far from the truth. The first four weeks, the Dolphins were a different team. These past two weeks, the Dolphins have been the exact team many thought they were… and are.

Ryan Tannehill took a big step forward last year, which continued the annual progression he has shown since his rookie year. Many — myself included, who projected him as my Breakthrough Star of 2015  — felt this was the year Tannehill comes of age. Now, we may get to see that.

That will make everyone around him better, including Matthews. Matthews wasn’t even supposed to start heading into the season, but the slow start from first round pick DeVante Parker thrust Matthews into a starting role. And he took full advantage of it.

While the Dolphins were floundering, Matthews was staying steady, proving to be a reliable outlet for Tannehill. Let’s look at his YTD performance. The numbers in parentheses will be as follows: (points for a PPR league, no bonus structure/points for a standard non-PPR league, no bonus structure).

Week 1 @ Washington        (13/9)

Week 2 @ Jacksonville       (17/11)

Week 3 Buffalo                      (29/23)

Week 4 Jets                             (2/1)

Week 5 BYE                              ——-

Week 6 @ Tennessee           (14/8)

Week 7 Houston                    (16/13)

Basically, Matthews had one bad week. That was Week 4 against a New York Jets defense that is No. 4 in the NFL against the pass. When he faced off against Tennessee, they were the No. 2 pass defense in the NFL. So he is capable of performing against tougher defenses.

Here’s the thing. The Dolphins have only two more matchups against Top Ten pass defenses. Should you be in the hunt for the playoffs, you should know that Matthews tees off against the No. 29 pass defense (Colts) and No. 30 pass defense (Giants) in that three week fantasy post season span.

The emergence of Lamar Miller will only make this offense stronger. But the key stat in my eyes is that in those first three weeks when the Dolphins look completely lost, Matthews was at his best. His points may take a slight hit as Miller and Jarvis Landry become stronger, but that trust he built with Tannehill was no mistake, and won’t go away. Matthews is currently leading the Dolphins in touchdown catches with four, or a third of Tannehill’s TDs thrown all season.

Now, when I say Matthews is a must start, it of course depends on your situation and league. An eight or ten team league may be deep enough that you play the matchup game with Matthews. If you have Julio Jones and TY Hilton, Matthews is riding the pine. But in a 12 or 14-team league, Matthews has proven to be a solid fantasy WR3, which means if you are in a three wide receiver league or a league with a flex, it’s time to get Matthews into those lineups, especially this week against the No. 18 Patriots defense. Sure, the Pats are winning games, but they are allowing points and yards. If Eric Decker can go for 6 for 94, so can Matthews.

I am not drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid because of the past two big weeks by the Dolphins. I know they won’t drop 35 points a week, but this is the offense they are capable of: short passes with big yards after the catch, and long routes down the side when the other team is pressing. The Dolphins offense should be back on the radar as reliable fantasy starters.


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