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2014 Fantasy Football Debate: Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy?

NFL player and running back for the Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy and NFL player and running back for the Kansas City Chiefs Jamaal Charles are seen at the Xbox Loft Party on January 31, 2014 in, New York City. (Brian Ach/AP Images for NFL)
Brian Ach/Associated Press
Ryan LesterSenior Writer INovember 16, 2016

Both Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy set the fantasy world on fire last year. Both or capable of doing damage between the tackles and catching the balls out of the backfield. If you have an early pick in your 2014 fantasy football draft, which dynamic back should you nab?

Odds are you can’t go wrong either way since they both are highly effective players. I love running backs that catch a ton of passes because even if they're facing a stout run defense, they can do damage elsewhere. That is definitely the case with this duo. Let’s look at the tale of the tape.

 

Jamaal Charles

  • 5’11", 199 pounds, turned 27 last December
  • 1,980 total yards (1,287 rushing) and 19 touchdowns (12 on the ground)
  • 329 touches
  • 5.0 yards per carry
  • 70 receptions
  • Four 100-yard games (13 games with 100-plus total yards)
  • Third season with at least 1,700 yards
  • First season with double-digit touchdowns

 

LeSean McCoy

  • 5’11", 208 pounds, turns 26 in July
  • 2,146 total yards (1,607 rushing) and 11 touchdowns (nine on the ground)
  • 366 touches
  • 5.1 yards per carry
  • 52 receptions
  • Seven 100-yard games (11 games with 100-plus total yards)
  • First season with at least 1,700 yards (third with at least 1,600 yards)
  • Second season with double-digit touchdowns

 

McCoy won the rushing title and had the most total yards, but Jamaal Charles led all players in touchdowns and all running backs in receiving yards. They are virtually the same size and are only 19 months apart. This one is almost too close to call.

One thing McCoy will have to overcome is the arrival of Darren Sproles. He won’t cut into Shady’s carries, as Sproles has averaged just 65.3 carries over the past six seasons.

The passing game is where Sproles could eat into McCoy’s touches. Sproles averaged 60.8 receptions over the past six seasons, including 72.8 per year over the past four seasons.

The Eagles figure to run more plays this year, according to early OTA observations. With a faster pace, McCoy could still manage a similar workload. Bryce Brown had 83 touches last year.  

Sproles will likely touch the ball about 128 times, or roughly eight times per game. McCoy may see a slight dip in touches, but with defenses on their heels because of the Eagles’ tempo, there should be plenty of numbers to go around.

Charles is also expecting to receive a lighter load. Knile Davis had just 81 touches last year. Davis should eat into Charles' workload just as Sproles eats into McCoy’s.

What it could come down to is the schedule. Unfortunately, it’s too early to truly predict which back will have an easier road. Shady does play the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13 and Week 15. Those should be a pair of monster games.

Of course, McCoy faces the Seattle Seahawks in Week 14, which is a tough draw in the opening week of the fantasy playoffs. In Week 16, they draw the Washington Redskins.

Charles’ playoff schedule features the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Time will tell, but it appears Charles has a decent chance of putting up big numbers at the right time of the year.

In the end, it’s a gut preference, as this one is too close to call. I have Charles ranked slightly higher than McCoy, but I don’t have a counterargument to those who prefer Shady. Either way, you should have fantasy gold.

Also check out Lester's Legends' early fantasy football rankings.

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