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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?

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After last season’s playoff success in which he piled up 263 yards and 2 TDs in wins over Cincinnati and San Diego, Shonn Greene began climbing up draft boards in the minds of fantasy owners. Then the Jets signed LaDainian Tomlinson rather than bringing Thomas Jones back. That only strengthened the case for fantasy owners. While LT may still have a little left in the tank, it seems like he’s closer to E than Jones is.


While I like the second-year back out of Iowa, I am not as high on Greene as most are. Mock Draft Central has an ADP of 14 for Greene, which seems a bit high. Personally I don’t even have him that high among RBs (click to see my RB rankings) let alone all players.


He is going ahead of guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Cedric Benson, and Ryan Grant. I can see passing on the QBs since there are plenty of good options later in the draft, but an unproven RB over Moss and Wayne, who you can basically pencil in for 1000+ yards and 10 TDs? I don’t see how you do that based on a handful of games. Even guys like Grant and Benson, that have proved they can contribute for a full season without getting hurt, seem like wiser decisions to me.


The Jets do have an excellent offensive line and play smash mouth football, but don’t expect them to be as run heavy this year. Mark Sanchez is older and wiser. Plus, the Jets brought in Santonio Holmes to help the Jets have a more balanced offensive attack.


Taking a guy 14th overall in a fantasy draft that has just two career TDs is risky, especially when he caught as many passes during the regular season as you did. It’s not like I would expect him to improve dramatically in the pass-receiving department. Even in his one breakout year of college he caught just eight passes.


LaDainian Tomlinson will catch the ball out of the backfield, and with 138 career rushing TDs look for LT to get the call at the stripe. So basically you’re looking at a yardage machine that won’t get many receiving yards and is unlikely to crack double-digit TDs. That doesn’t sound like a top 15 pick to me.


Prediction:  1280 total yards (1180 rushing), 6 TDs, 12 catches


What do you expect from Shonn Greene?


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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


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.

Thomas Jones running
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Thomas Jones is coming off an unbelievable year in which he ran for 1312 yards with 13 TDs, and added 36 receptions for 207 yards and 2 TDs.  Though he’s in great shape, he will turn 31 this year, which has typically been the beginning of the end for RBs.  He has carried a pretty heavy workload the past four seasons, which didn’t go unnoticed by the Jets as they drafted Shonn Greene from Iowa.  Also in the mix will be Leon Washington, who was electric (5.9 yards per carry) when he had the football last year.  Washington had 9 TDs (6 rushing, 2 receiving, 1 Kick Return).  I suspect Jones will have one more year to be the lead dog, but will be pushed out next year.  If the Jets struggle they could start planning for the future with more Greene for the Green & White.

The Jets have a pretty tough schedule playing in the AFC East along with tilts with Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Carolina.  Their fantasy playoff schedule consists of games against Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Indianapolis, which shouldn’t prove too difficult.  It’s just a matter if he’s getting the bulk of the carries still when those games roll around.  My expectations have lowered of Jones, but he always seems to prove people wrong.  I’ll take my chances and figure him for 900 total yards and 6 TDs.

Brett Favre has retired from the Jets.  I know we’ve heard this before, but I think it’s for good this time.  So Kellen Clemens gets his shot.  He has some solid weapons to work with.  For starters, Thomas Jones is coming off his best NFL season to date.  I know he’s on the wrong side of 30, but there’s still life in those legs.  I expect Leon Washington to be even more involved in their Offense next year.  When he touched the ball, generally good things happened.  FB Tony Richardson probably won’t return.  The Jets have solid options in the passing game with WRs Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey and TE Dustin Keller.  They upgraded their O-Line last year so that’s not a need.  On Offense they pretty much just need to add depth.
On Defense the Jets will likely lose leading tackler Eric Barton.  There’s talk that he could be replaced with Ray Lewis, so that would be an upgrade.  S Abram Elam is a Free Agent.  He’ll likely be back with the club.  After missing the playoffs despite a huge splash in last year’s Offseason, I don’t think they Jets will make much noise this year.  They have most of the pieces in place to compete for the division title. 

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
RB Jehuu Caulcrick Re-signed New York Jets New York Jets
RB Jesse Chatman UFA New York Jets Free Agent
FB Tony Richardson UFA New York Jets Free Agent
WR Marcus Henry Re-signed New York Jets New York Jets
WR Wallace Wright RFA New York Jets Free Agent
TE Bubba Franks UFA New York Jets Free Agent
TE Joe Kowalewski RFA New York Jets Free Agent
PK Jay Feely UFA New York Jets Free Agent
PK Mike Nugent UFA New York Jets Free Agent
OL Stanley Daniels Re-signed New York Jets New York Jets
DL Kareem Brown Re-signed New York Jets New York Jets
DL C.J. Mosley UFA New York Jets Free Agent
DL Ropati Pitoitua Re-signed New York Jets New York Jets
LB Eric Barton UFA New York Jets Free Agent
LB Kenwyn Cummings Re-signed New York Jets New York Jets
LB Marques Murrell RFA New York Jets Free Agent
LB Brandon Renkart Re-signed New York Jets New York Jets
LB Cody Spencer UFA New York Jets Free Agent
CB David Barrett UFA (Cut) New York Jets Free Agent
CB Ahmad Carroll UFA New York Jets Free Agent
SS Abram Elam UFA New York Jets Free Agent
SS Kerry Rhodes Re-signed New York Jets New York Jets

Trading Places

6 October 2008

Frank Gore and Thomas Jones are about to have their worlds turned upside down. 

Frank Gore has been amazing with 603 total yards and 4 TDs (120.6 and 0.8 per game) in the 49ers’ first five games.  He’s been the most productive back not named Michael Turner through the first five weeks.  That’s about to change though as he has back-to-back dates with two NFC East powerhouses.  They will provide much stiffer tests than some of the feeble Defenses he’s faced (Detroit and New Orleans for example) thus far.  First up is Philly, who got burned by Washington for 200+ on the ground.  That’s not going to sit well with the Birds.  They are still allowing just 83.6 rushing yards per game despite Washington’s onslaught.  They have only allowed 2 rushing TDs through the first five weeks.  He gets no relief in Week 7 when they face the Giants on the road.  The Giants are even tougher statistically allowing just 82 yards per game and only 1 TD in four games.

Thomas Jones was almost an afterthough as Brett Favre threw 6 TDs in Week 4.  Since opening the year with 101 yards against Miami, Jones has only 153 rushing yards in his last three games.  For the year he has 301 total yards and 1 TD (75.25, 0.25).  That’s about to change though as he has three cushy matchups lined up.  He starts off with Cincinnati out of the bye.  They’ve been torched for 171 yards per game and have allowed 6 rushing TDs through five games.  He follows that up with a date with Oakland.  They are only allowing 113.3 per game, which is middle of the pack, but they have given up 7 rushing TDs in 4 games.  Finally, he gets to tee off against Kansas City.  They are dead last in the league allowing 182.2 yards per game.  They have also been burned for 8 rushing TDs in give games.

There’s the fantasy nugget.  Adjust your lineups accordingly.

New York Jets Preview

27 August 2008

The Jets made some noise this offseason with the acquisition of Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, and Tony Richardson.  They also drafted Vernon Gholston.  Finally, they upgraded at QB as well.  You may have heard about it.

I initially thought the Jets main focus was going to be on the ground attack when they added Faneca and Woody to a line that already had D’Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold.  Obviously the addition of Brett Favre to the mix means they will be a balanced attack.  You can’t key on shutting down the run because Favre will make you pay.  If you try and stop the pass, Thomas Jones and company will make you pay on the ground.  It’s amazing how much easier life is when you have an offense that can stretch the field.

Defensively is where I worry.  The addition of Kris Jenkins, Calvin Pace, and Gholston should help.  How much so is the question.  Fortunately for them they get to face Miami and Buffalo twice each.  That should offset the challenge of playing New England twice.  They have looked good in the preseason, but we all know that isn’t exactly a good representation of how they will fare when the season gets underway. 

I don’t think the Jets will make the Patriots sweat out the division title, but I do think they have what it takes to win a Wild Card berth.  With Favre at the helm, a playoff victory isn’t out of the question.  I don’t see them winning more than one playoff game though.

Fantasy-wise there are some nice options here.  Obviously Brett Favre is worth having on your roster.  I’m not sure I would trust him as my starter, even in a 12 team league, but he’s showed last year he’s still capable of winning some fantasy games.  I think both starting receivers will be decent plays as well.  I liken Jerricho Cotchery to Greg Jennings (deep threat) and Laveranues Coles to Donald Driver (possession WR).  Therefore, I expect better fantasy numbers out of Cotchery.  I like Thomas Jones as well.   He should be able to produce 1400+ total yards and even crack the endzone a half-dozen times.  I also like Dustin Keller as a sleeper Tight End.  NYJ Defense will be worth using when the matchup is right.  Even Mike Nugent could end up being a solid fantasy starter.

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