TRADING SPACES: Rishard Matthews

By Bryan Sweet, DFW Senior Writer and Co-Owner, @FantasyFreakDFW



Coming out of high school, Rishard Matthews appeared headed to Eugene, Oregon to play for the Oregon Ducks.  Poor grades forced him to attend a junior college before finishing his collegiate career at Nevada, catching passes from Colin Kaepernick.  Matthews was drafted by the Dolphins in the seventh round in 2012 and was in and out of the lineup until given the chance to start in 2015.  Through 11 games, Matthews compiled 43 receptions for 662 yards and four TDs before suffering multiple rib fractures in Miami’s week 12 games and forcing out for the remainder of the season.  Matthews was pursued in the offseason by both Tennessee and New England, ultimately signing with the Titans for a three-year contract worth $15 million.  Matthews will now be catching passes from Marcus Mariota, who was Oregon’s third-string QB during Matthews’ senior season in Nevada, sharing a locker room in the NFL several years after nearly sharing one in college.




Rihards2Matthews wasn’t a cornerstone piece to many fantasy teams last season, but his receiving stats in just 11 full games eclipsed those of any WR the Titans ran out on the field last season (Kendall Wright led the team with 36 receptions for 408 yards and three TDs).  Titans HC Mike Mularkey has already indicated Matthews will be lining up as the team’s “Z” receiver, on the opposite side of the field of Dorial Green-Beckham and putting Wright as the team’s primary receiver out of the slot. The Titans have upgraded several positions on the offensive side of the ball with free agent additions DeMarco Murray (RB) and Ben Jones (C) and the drafting of Jack Conklin (OT), hopefully to improve upon the team’s 30th-ranked offense from 2015.  Matthews is a significant upgrade over Harry Douglas, and the presence of Murray should open up more one-on-one opportunities for the WRs.  Mularkey has also indicated he will be more willing to allow Mariota to use his athletic ability to run, forcing the defense to honor his legs and potentially open up big plays in the passing game.  I expect Matthews to finish with about 40 receptions for 450-500 yards and three or four TDs, making him a decent depth player but no more than an emergency starter as a WR6 or so.


As mentioned above, Matthews is a significant upgrade over almost any Titan WR, but especially over Harry Douglas who he will be replacing in 2016.  Matthews gives Mariota a weapon on the outside, but is more of a catch-and-run WR as opposed to a speed player.  The combination of Matthews with the other offensive upgrades bodes well for a team that finished as the third-worst offense in 2015.  The Titans should see a significant upgrade in 2016, but probably won’t provide any fantasy-relevant receiving options other than TE Delaine Walker.


Matthews looked like he was heading for a breakout season in 2015 before injuries forced him to miss the final month of the season.  The Dolphins likely weren’t willing to pay the salary Matthews earned during the shortened season, and will look to replace his production with second-year player DeVante Parker and rookie Leonte Carroo.  Looking at Miami’s final five games (that Matthews missed due to injury), QB Ryan Tannehill didn’t appear to suffer any diminished stats.  Based on that small smaple size, Matthews departure should only minimally impact the team’s offense and shouldn’t prevent Tannehill from reaching low-end QB1 numbers again.