Jamaal Charles was a fantasy darling in 2011 after gaining almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage with eight touchdowns the prior year. The Kansas City Chiefs had added a few receivers to the roster and the offense seemed ready to launch.
Then Charles was lost for the year with a knee injury.
The Chiefs added Peyton Hillis in the offseason in a move many saw as adding a power back. Others believe he was insurance in case Charles was injured again.
Perhaps it had more to do with Kansas City's front office knowing there were lingering issues with the knee.
In just the second week of the 2012 season Charles was ineffective and showed signs of concern.
I know at least one owner that drafted Charles very early in 2011 and opted to double-down with him in 2012 as his No. 2 running back. Burn me twice...
It appears as though Charles' knee isn't healthy and he suffered aggravation of the prior injury or worse.
Charles re injures knee: Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles dinged up the same knee that needed reco... bit.ly/U6oEgQ— KCTV5 - Kansas City (@KCTV5) September 18, 2012
Bills linebacker Kelvin Sheppard pulled him to the ground late in the first half. Charles didn't look stable when he was getting up.
He returned briefly in the third quarter but wasn't effective.
UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 21 at 10:45 p.m. ET by Darin Pike
Hillis' value took a bit of a hit this week. Charles was able to fully participate in practices and is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Saints.
---End of update---
Charles has lacked his signature burst of speed that made him a fantasy star in 2010. He did gain 87 yards against the Atlanta Falcons to start the season but 46 came on one play. He averaged less than three yards per carry on his other 15 rushes.
While Charles is expected to be ready to play in Week 3, fantasy owners shouldn't expect much from him.
Head coach Romeo Crennel didn't hesitate to turn the ball over to Hillis. Granted, Hillis returned the favor by turning it over to the Buffalo Bills on the goal line, but a hobbled Charles means Hillis will be asked to carry the ball for the Chiefs.
Charles struggled finding room on Sunday but Hillis gained 66 yards on 11 carries.
Owners may want to be cautious in adding Hillis, as they will be stuck waiting for injury reports on Friday to decipher if he's a solid start or not. But the Chiefs face the 0-2 New Orleans Saints on Sunday, a team that has struggled to shut down the run.
The Chiefs could be the next team to take advantage of a defense that is thin at linebacker.
Hillis will likely be asked to carry the load in Week 3, but it could be a week-by-week approach thereafter. Owners without a flexible roster spot should consider adding Hillis, even if it is just to speculate that Charles will be limited going forward.
Hillis will be productive as a starting running back and it looks as though the Chiefs will need to turn to him in that role for at least part of the season.