The 2012 NFL regular season is right around the corner, which means fantasy football will hold millions of people hostage over the next few months.
Fantasy football is all about star power, and the Kansas City Chiefs haven't featured many fantasy-relevant players recently; aside from tight end Tony Gonzalez, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and running back Jamaal Charles.
Charles has been one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last few seasons. And following his 1,935 total yards and eight touchdowns in 2010, that was supposed to catapult him into fantasy stardom.
However, an ACL tear in a 48-3 Week 2 loss last season to the Detroit Lions derailed the goals of many fantasy owners who used their first-round pick on Charles.
There is nothing more deflating than losing a player that was expected to carry the load for you over the course of the season. And with the NFL widely converting to more running-back-by-committee schemes, it is nearly impossible to replace the lost production.
As Charles looks to put the 2011 season behind him, the Chiefs were able to stock the cupboard with players who will help ease him back onto the field.
This is great news for the Chiefs and Charles as it relates to "real" football, but bad news to those who expect him to pick up where he left off when their Week 1 matchup rolls around.
Charles has never been the only guy in the Chiefs' backfield, but has been very productive when given the opportunity. But with his return from such a serious injury, the question becomes how many times his number actually gets called in order to protect him from the grind of the long NFL season.
Running back Peyton Hillis was one of the offseason acquisitions for the Chiefs. As a younger and more capable version of Thomas Jones—and with Charles coming back from injury—he will be relied on more than Jones was in his two seasons with the Chiefs; meaning Charles is certain not to surpass the workload that he has been used to throughout his career.
Charles was never a huge touchdown threat, and the much bigger and stronger Hillis will only reduce his scoring opportunities, especially in the red zone.
The Chiefs stand to benefit greatly, as Charles and Hillis create one of the best running back tandems in the league. But this duo could create many headaches for their fantasy owners as the season progresses.
A successful return to the field in 2012 for Charles might not translate to much fantasy success. So fantasy owners must tread cautiously with their expectations of him this season.