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NFL Draft Fantasy Fallout - Jamaal Charles

 

The Chiefs’ selection of Jamaal Charles (73rd overall) is a very interesting one.  On the surface, it looks like the Chiefs are looking for some youth to backup their very highly paid starter, Larry Johnson.  The Chiefs drafted Larry Johnson early when they had arguably the best running back in fantasy football (Priest Holmes) on their roster, there’s every reason to think they’re drafting Charles to sit on the bench for a few seasons as the running back of the future.

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Dig a little deeper though, and you have to wonder if the future is a lot nearer than you’d think.  Charles dropped to the third round because he’s not exceptionally big (5’ 11", 200 lbs), but he is a fast, elusive back with decent pass-catching skills.  He would make a great speed back to compliment Johnson’s power back role.  With Johnson suffering from nagging injuries last season, it would seem to be a good idea to have somebody step in and take a few carries to help preserve him for the entire season.   The Chiefs' plan to let Johnson take 400+ carries in 2006 looks pretty stupid in hindsight.

So there are two ways Charles could be used this season.  He could come in as a change-of-pace back, grabbing a few carries each quarter and keeping LJ fresh.   Or, he could be used as the speed component of a full-fledged running back by committee, taking anywhere from 25% to 50% of the carries.  I don’t know what the Chiefs are thinking, but Herm Edwards isn’t known for being flexible and innovative on offense, so I doubt that they’re moving to a "Thunder and Lightning" running back arrangement.

Even if they don’t give Charles a decent share of the carries, Johnson is still an injury risk so Charles is likely to start at least one game this season.  I like Jamaal Charles as a good late round draft pick, a guy you stash on your bench as an RB4 or RB5.  If you draft Larry Johnson, then Charles becomes an essential choice as a running back handcuff.

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