Is Jamaal Charles a RB1?
This shouldn’t even be a question after the way he ripped through opposing defenses for 1126 total yards (968 rushing) and eight touchdowns over the final eight games last year. You’re talking about 20 fantasy points per game. That puts him in the conversation with Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Maurice Jones-Drew territory.
Yet, his ADP according to Mock Draft Central is 25 (15th RB). I actually have him a few notches lower on my RB totem pole (click to see my rankings). I know he’s just 23 (24 in December) without a lot of wear on the tires, but that’s just it. He has 257 career carries. He doesn’t have a track record to show he can handle 250+ carries. With Thomas Jones in town, who knows if he’ll get that opportunity.
Thomas Jones just keeps producing. The Bears drafted Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones responded with 1335 yards. In Benson’s second year with Chicago TJ ran for 1210 yards. He then went to the Jets and ran for 1119 yards. He had just one TD for the Jets and approaching 30. Surely he’s on the decline. Guess again. He ran for 1312 yards and 13 TDs as he turned 30. Fluke year. No more, right? Wrong. He had 1402 yards and 14 TDs last year. He didn’t go to the Chiefs to quietly wind out his NFL career. The Chiefs didn’t bring him in to cheer on Jamaal Charles. Jones will get his carries. Currently Jones is listed as the Chiefs’ starting RB. I know that it’s a ploy to motivate Charles, but if Charles has fumbling issues persists (Charles fumbles every 51 carries, Jones every 175) don’t think that Todd Haley won’t sit Charles to get his message across.
Plus, while Jamaal’s numbers were impressive, you have to consider the fact that he had fresh legs when taking over the starting job in Week 10. The same cannot be said for the opposing defenses he faced. Speaking of the opposing defenses he faced, they weren’t exactly the who’s who of 2009 NFL run defenses. He picked apart the Raiders (29th ranked run defense), the Chargers (20th), the Bills (30th), the Browns (28th), and the Broncos (26th) twice. He only faced two stout run defenses, the Steelers (3rd) and the Bengals (7th). Pittsburgh kept him in check while he ran for 102 yards against Cincinnati. I don’t mean to diminish his accomplishments, but 75 percent of his games came against run defenses that ranked 20th or lower (62.5 percent against 26th or lower) that had a lot more wear and tear than he had.
I still think he will have a good year, with some major offensive explosions mixed in, but I don’t see him going on a run like he went on last year. A lot of things were aligned just right for Charles to do a Chris Johnson impersonation. I would take Charles as my RB1 if I went with a QB (Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees) or WR (Andre Johnson) with my first pick. Otherwise, I would wait and hope to get him as an RB2.
Would you trust Jamaal Charles as your #1 fantasy running back?