Jamaal Charles exploded onto the scene in 2009 finishing with 1,120 yards (1,417 total) and eight scores. He followed his breakout season with a monster 1,467 yard (1,935 total), eight touchdown season. After missing nearly all of the 2011 season, can Charles return as a RB1 for fantasy owners?
The first test will come during training camp, when he tests the knee out. Fortunately for Charles, his injury happened early last season, so he will have had plenty of time for the knee to heal. Everyone is different, but he is certainly, on paper, in a better place in his recovery than Adrian Peterson for example.
He is just 25 years old with 499 career carries. Both of those factors should improve his chances of recovery.
Once the knee checks out, Charles will then have to face his next obstacle. That is sharing the backfield with Peyton Hillis. Fortunately for Charles, he will be the primary ball carrier. Plus, he has experience sharing the load from his time with Thomas Jones.
The Chiefs figure to run the ball plenty this year, and Charles should get his fair share of touches. Hillis’ presence could actually be a good thing for Jamaal, as it could help prevent him from wearing down. Plus, Hillis’ physical style of running could soften defenses, which could lead to more long runs for Charles.
I currently have Charles ranked 12th among fantasy running backs. I can see him even being ranked a few notches higher, especially in PPR leagues. Mock Draft Central has him as the 13th running back to come off the board.
How he looks in training camp and in the preseason games will answer the question, but right now I do consider him a low-end RB1. What’s your take?
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