Kareem Hunt
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Through three games Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt was looking like a modern version of Priest Holmes. An injury to Spencer Ware gave Hunt the opportunity and he ran with it…literally by piling up 148 yards and a touchdown on the ground to accompany five receptions for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the NFL opener against the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. Talk about a first impression.
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Hunt followed up that historic performance with 81 yards rushing, three catches fro 28 yards and a pair of scores on the ground against the Philadelphia Eagles. His dominance continued in Week 3 with 172 yards and a score on the ground along with an 11-yard reception. He has yet to score a touchdown since.
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Hunt should help the Chiefs run away with the Division, but if the Kansas City Chiefs odds for the season are going to suggest a deep playoff run, Kareem is going to have to return to the end zone.
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In Week 4 Hunt ran for 101 yards and caught four passes for 20 yards against the Washington Redskins. His fourth and final 100-yard performance to date came in Week 5 against the Houston Texans when he ran for 108 yards and added three receptions for nine yards. Hunt stayed hot in Week 6 with 110 total yards (21 rushing, five receptions for 89 yards), but his run total was the first warning sign. Hunt returned to form with 87 rushing yards and four catches for 30 yards in Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders to give him his seventh straight game with at least 100 total yards.
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The last two games prior to the Week 10 bye are where Hunt stopped performing like an elite running back. In Week 8 he was limited to 46 yards on 22 carries (2.1 yards per carry) against the Denver Broncos. He caught three passes for 22 yards, but his 68 total yards were disappointing to fantasy owners that had relied heavily on him. He followed that game up with 37 rushing yards and four catches for 24 yards, establishing a new low with 61 total yards.
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Look for the Chiefs to focus on getting him more involved coming out of their bye. If you are looking to buy low on him, now may be the time. You will still have to offer a healthy ransom to get him, but this is likely his low point in value.
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First up is the New York Giants. They rank 30th in league with 132.6 yards allowed per game. Then he squares off against Buffalo, who have allowed 117.0 yard per game and a league high 14 rushing touchdowns (thanks New Orleans). Then it’s the 23rd ranked Jets at 117.9 ypg followed by another shot at Oakland (21st at 116.6 ypg). Week 15 brings the Los Angeles Chargers and their league-worst 135.1 ypg. Week 16 he finally squares off against a decent run defense in Miami before closing out against the Broncos.
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With the schedule ahead, it would not be surprising if Hunt was the top running back in the league down the strethc.


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We’ll wrap up the AFC running back scene by heading out west.
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Jamaal Charles is the best in the West. He showed 2009 was no fluke by running for 1467 yards with five touchdowns. He added another 468 yards and three touchdowns on 45 receptions. Charles is expected to carry an even bigger load for the Chiefs this year, which puts him in the conversation for the number one overall pick in fantasy drafts. He will likely be a top four pick in most fantasy leagues. Thomas Jones will still be in the picture, and while he is much more than just a handcuff to Charles, I do expect his production to decrease.
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Darren McFadden finally delivered last year erupting for 1157 yards and seven touchdowns. He added 47 catches for 507 yards and three more scores. He is a bit of a risk as he has missed 20.8 percent (ten of 48) games in his young career. Hard to argue with his production as a bona fide RB1. He will likely be the sixth to tenth running back selected. Michael Bush is a free agent, but the Raiders are likely to make a play to keep him. Given Run DMC’s injury history, Bush is a high-end handcuff.
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Knowshon Moreno has had some moments, but many (myself included) think he will take a big step forward with John Fox on board. If he can stay healthy, he can easily build upon the 1151 (779 rushing, 372 receiving) total yard and eight (five rushing, three receiving) touchdowns. The Broncos will likely add to their backfield once free agency opens up. Obviously who they bring in will determine Moreno’s fantasy worth, but he looks like a solid RB2.
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In San Diego you have a pair of running backs that should provide fantasy goodies. Ryan Mathews had a disappointing rookie season, and should be much better in 2011. He will likely be the 15th-20th running back taken in fantasy drafts. I’d prefer to get him as my RB3 given his injury history and the presence of Michael Tolbert, who is a low-end RB3 or high-end RB4. Darren Sproles will likely part ways with the Chargers when the lockout ends.
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San Diego’s Philip Rivers is easily the class of the division. It doesn’t matter who who is throwing too. Vincent Jackson holds out and only plays four games? Ho hum. Rivers throws for 4710 yards. Antonio Gates has nine touchdowns in the first eight games and then misses six of the next eight games? Big deal. Rivers throws 30 TDs (13 INT). Rivers remains a top tier QB1.
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Kansas City got 3116 yards and 27 TDs (7 INTs) from Matt Cassel and added the 6’4″ Jonathan Baldwin to his arsenal. He should take some of the pressure Dwayne Bowe, who exploded for 1162 yards and 15 TDs last year. Bowe had just one touchdown in the last five games while averaging 55.4 yards. The Chiefs also added Rodney Hudson to help their offensive line. Cassel is a solid QB2 going into the 2011 season.
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John Elway is on board with Tim Tebow as the Broncos’ quarterback. Tebow will have his ups and downs, but should be a solid QB2 thanks to his ability to run the football. He had six rushing touchdowns last year. New coach John Fox has Kyle Orton on top of the depth chart, but he could be traded once the lockout is lifted. If he beats out Tebow, he will also be a solid QB2. I just assume at some point Tebow would get a chance to start.
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Then there is the Raiders. Jason Campbell is the starter, but he’s not much of a fantasy option. He topped 240 yards just twice.  He had one or fewer touchdown passes in ten of the 13 games he played in. I would look elsewhere for my backup fantasy quarterback.
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Obviously the state of the NFL is in complete turmoil. Will there be a season? Hard to say, but we have to still prepare like there will be one. We continue our series of analyzing the number one pick in 2011 fantasy football drafts with Jamaal Charles. Charles finished second in the league last year with 1467 yards. He did so while sharing carries with Thomas Jones, who actually had 15 more carries than Charles. Jones ran for 896 yards. Jones’ 3.7 yards per carry paled in comparison to Charles’ 6.4 ypc, which was second in the league to Michael Vick. It’s mind-boggling why Jones got more work, but rest assured that won’t be the case in 2011.
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Charles was also effective catching the ball out of the backfield, adding 468 yards on 45 receptions. He had 40 catches in 2009 for 297 yards. With more touches in 2011, Charles can challenge for the league lead in total yards.
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Initially there were questions as to whether Jamaal could hold up for a full season. The bulk of the damage Charles did in 2009 came in the second half when he had fresh legs. Charles more than put those questions to rest. In his last 24 games Charles has averaged 127.5 total yards per game. He’s every bit as explosive as any running back in the league, sporting a career 6.0 ypc. Charles tied for sixth with ten 20+ yard runs. Despite basically playing only half a season in 2009 he was tied for eight with nine 20+ yard runs.
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The knock on Charles is his lack of touchdowns. He combined for eight (five rushing, three receiving) last year and nine (seven rushing, one receiving, one kick return) in 2009. Four of his five rushing touchdowns last year where from the five yard line and in proving he’s capable of scoring on tough runs. I expect him to continue to excel near the goal line, thanks in part to his versatility in the passing game and the emergence of Dwayne Bowe. I also think he will break more long touchdown runs next year.
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Personally I wouldn’t take Charles with the number one pick, but there is certainly a case to be made, especially if he receives 300+ carries.
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I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Matt Cassel underwent an appendectomy. There is talk that he may try to gut it out and play through the pain. Given the Chiefs’ ties to Bill Belichick, I caution you that it is likely just gamesmanship. The Chiefs will likely play it safe and rest Cassel this week despite facing the Chargers in a key AFC West showdown.
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Regardless if he plays, he’ll be in quite a bit of discomfort. He’d also be facing San Diego’s top-ranked pass defense (186.3  yards allowed per game). He simply cannot be in your fantasy lineup. Since the Chiefs have such a tough draw, I would not recommend using Brodie Croyle if he gets the nod.
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You likely weren’t going to use Cassel against the Chargers anyway so let’s get to the other decisions. What should you do with Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, and Tony Moeaki?
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With Cassel likely out, I expect a heavy dose of the run. The Chargers have been effective stopping the run as well, ranking fifth with just 95.3 yards per game, but Kansas City is not an ordinary team when it comes to running the ball. They lead the league with 175.2 yards per game. I like both Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones to continue putting up big numbers.

Tony Moeaki has been good enough at times, but he is not an option that I would want to roll with in the fantasy playoffs against the top-ranked pass defense with a backup quarterback. That’s just too big of a risk.
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What about Dwayne Bowe? I had him as my top-ranked receiver for the second straight week, and I’m beginning to think that was a jinx. He got shut down last week by Champ Bailey and the Broncos. Then his quarterback has surgery. Clearly he can’t be the top option anymore this week, but he still has to be in your fantasy lineup. He’s just too good to sit.
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Is Jamaal Charles a RB1?

18 August 2010


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

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?

The Chiefs were 25th in total offense, but finished just outside the top ten in rushing offense thanks to Jamaal Charles’ Chris Johnson impersonation from Week 10 on. Of course, they muddied his fantasy waters by bringing in Thomas Jones. I don’t expect the team to be much better, but there will be some viable fantasy options once again.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:   Moderate
They have a couple of tough games against San Diego at home in Week 14 and in Tennessee in Week 16. Between that they get to take on the Rams in St. Louis.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Jamaal Charles – The way  he finished the season averaging 143.1 total yards (121 rushing) and a TD over the last eight games was fantasy gold last year. I would have had higher expectations for Charles if Thomas Jones wasn’t brought int.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Thomas Jones – He’s not the primary ball carrier, but Charles has just 257 career carries. There is no proof that he can carry the load for a full season. If he goes down, Jones’ becomes a legit RB2. He has value in flex leagues because he’ll likely get the ball in the red zone.

 

Dwayne Bowe – Bowe was a major disappointment last year as he quickly became entrenched in Todd Haley’s doghouse. He has the potential to breakout, but do temper your expectations until he proves he’s taking the right mental approach.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Matt Cassel –  With Charlie Weiss on board, I expect more out of Cassel. That depends on the protection his line gives him. He has two RBs that can catch the ball out of the backfield, as well as Bowe and Chris Chambers, who re-emerged last year. He has the potential to be a solid QB2 this year.

 

Chris Chambers – Almost as improbable as Jamaal Charles’ finish was Chambers. He had nine catches for 122 yards and a score in seven games with San Diego. He took off with the Chiefs catching 36 passes for 608 yards and 4 TDs in nine games.  His upside is limited, but he gives you good depth at WR.

 

One Star Fantasy Option
Dexter McCluster – He could be this year’s version of Percy Harvin. He’s super athletic and can do a variety of things on offense. Consistency will likely be an issue.

 

Chiefs Defense/Special Teams – The Chiefs have some nice games on their schedule such as Browns in Week 2, the Bills in Week 8, the Raiders in Week 9, the Seahawks in Week 12, and the Rams in Week 15. They had just 22 sacks and 15 INTs last year so they should probably go undrafted. You can pick them up for a spot start if they show improvement.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Who says you can’t kill two birds with one stone…or in this case sink two players’ fantasy value at once. That’s exactly what happened when Thomas Jones signed with the Chiefs. Clearly any high that Jamaal Charles’ owners have been on following his impressive run at the end of the year came to an abrupt halt at the news of Jones’ signing. While I still think Charles will be a solid fantasy starter, I think I can put the Chris Johnson Lite moniker away.

Meanwhile Jones will take a back seat to Charles. I can’t comprehend why he wouldn’t go to a contender. He could have been a backup for Minnesota or Philadelphia. He could have been in a 50-50 split in San Diego. He could have been the lead dog in Houston. Even bad teams like Seattle, Detroit, and Tampa Bay would have been better options for he would at least be the lead back. Being a backup for a dismal team makes little sense to me.

Jones could have been a decent #2 or #3 RB depending on where he landed. Now I see him more as a low-end #3 or a #4. I’d put him lower, but he does seem to produce even when the odds are against him.

A couple of NFL veterans were given their walking papers just days before Christmas in a cruel reminder that this is a business.

Mark Bradley had three catches for 52 yards and a score in Kansas City’s 41-34 loss to the Browns. That wasn’t enough for him to ring in the New Year with the Chiefs though. Mark had a disappointing season with 24 catches for 320 yards and 2 TDs. He had 30 catches for 380 yards and 3 TDs  last year for the Chiefs. The writing should have been on the wall as Kansas City seemed to look at every WR that came available, including bringing in Bobby Wade and Chris Chambers. He’ll likely catch on somewhere, perhaps not until next year, but he likely won’t have any fantasy value ever again.

In a move that has much more fantasy football signficance, the Saints chose Garrett Hartley over John Carney. Hartley is 7 for 8 on Field Goal attempts, with his only miss coming from 50+ yars. Meanwhile Carney 13 of 17, with three misses coming from 30-39 yards. With a juicy match-up against Tampa Bay this week, and Sean Payton announcing that he won’t rest players this week, start Hartley with confidence against the Bucs in your fantasy football championship game.

End of Dwayne Bowe

17 November 2009

Dwayne Bowe catch
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

OK, it’s not technically the end for Kansas City WR Dwayne Bowe, but he will be out for four weeks after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. This failed test could also ensure that he won’t be back with the Chiefs next year as he already was in Coach Todd Haley’s doghouse earlier this year.

Bowe is set to return in Week 15 against the Browns. While it would be hard to use him in the fantasy playoffs after a month-long hiatus, it is the Browns. He finishes up against Cincinnati. No way I’d gamble on Bowe in the fantasy championship against the Bengals.

If you can afford to sit on him for four weeks I suggest you do so for that Browns game. If you can’t, start shopping the waiver wire. Here are some possible replacements.

Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans
Patrick Crayton, Dallas Cowboys
Laveranues Coles, Cincinnati Bengals
Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis Colts
Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams
Chris Chambers, Kansas City Chiefs


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