I know what you’re thinking. I must be mad to say don’t draft Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs. Once you see the reasons for not picking him up, you’ll be wise to let someone else in your league make the mistake of picking him for 2012 fantasy football.
First and foremost, Charles is coming off of a torn ACL suffered early last season. We’ve seen time and again when a surgically-repaired ACL is not as strong as the original one. It doesn’t mean he won’t be able to run and cut but expect it to be a little less effectively. Charles’ big season in 2010 was due in part to the Chiefs’ ability to run the ball between the guards. They averaged nearly 4.9 yards per carry in that slot and were fifth overall. Flash ahead to 2011 and the picture changes. Drastically. KC dropped from 5th to 29th in effectiveness from their line. They were sixth around left end and best off the left tackle, averaging 5.67 yards per carry. They were in the bottom six when it came to going up the middle and to the right. If Kansas City keeps running him up the middle or to the right, Charles loses value and nearly a yard per carry. He has the speed to break away from defenders in the open field. Of course the problem is getting him to the open field and that second level of defenders so he can turn on the jets.
Charles has never scored more than 8 combined TDs in a season as he is one of those ‘fine back with small TDs’ Sky talked about in the 2012 fantasy football rankings. Think about the fact that thirteen other running backs scored eight or more times last year-on the ground alone. Another big issue is the offseason acquisition of Peyton Hillis from Cleveland. The disgruntled running back is making his second trip to an AFC West team (Denver) and looks to be more in line to vulture carries at the goal line. It seems like this is Thomas Jones version two from two seasons ago. Another problem with Kansas City is the lack of a passing game. Dwayne Bowe is out there as WR1 for the team. He also had a great 2010 with 15 TDs but regressed to just 5 last season. Without a real consistent deep threat and a decent WR2, Charles is going to face more defenders in the box. That will only further expose the weaknesses in the Chiefs’ run game.
Charles has too many things working against him to be an effective back in Kansas City. He’ll get his carries but trips to the end zone will be few and far between in 2012. If I’m drafting a running back in the second or third round this year, I’ll be sure to leave this Chief alone.