RBBC Review: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City backfield has turned from a thing of beauty to a thing of disaster and back again in the last few years. After taking Larry Johnson with a 1st rounder in 2003 and seeing him be one of the few positives, the team focused around him after his years of 1,750 and 1,789 yards. That second year of over 1,700 yards came on an NFL record for most carries in a season. He never looked quite the same after that, and with an injury 8 games into the ’07 season and legal trouble on and off the field it was just a matter of time until someone else took over. Jamaal Charles filled in admirably half way through last season, and when the last few games of the year rolled around he caught fire. But because of the kind of player Charles is, the Chiefs opted to sign Thomas Jones this off-season.
Charles is a dynamic runner with game breaking speed. He’s very reminiscent of Chris Johnson, who can be pretty tough to imitate, but tends to be more of a straight line runner as a track star would be. Although he mixes in some cuts and spins as any smaller running back does, Charles prefers to find his angle and turn on the jets.
Thomas Jones has been the picture of consistency the last few years. Somewhat surprisingly, it hasn’t always been that way. After struggling with Arizona in his first three seasons, he started to put up some big numbers by the time he was 27 and with Chicago. Over the last five years, two with Chicago and the last three with the Jets, Jones has run for close to 1,300 yards per year. This is somewhat hard to comprehend with the almost certain rule of 30 year old runners, but last season he put up his best numbers yet.
The two look set to create quite a backfield duo, but what does this mean for their fantasy stocks? It’s tough to say exactly who will be doing what at this point in the off-season, but all indications point to this being a working split. Coach Haley discussed the addition of Jones at a press conference recently,
"In this day and age, it's a concern for everybody regardless of who it is because those guys take a severe beating," said Haley. "I wouldn't say it's about Jamaal so much as it's about the way of the league right now. You need two quality backs."
In a weird way, that is significantly more backing than Haley gave Charles at any point last year. Even after Jamaal had put up quite healthy numbers in his first few starts last year, there was still some noise of others being mixed into the backfield. Now that Haley respects Charles as a quality running back in the league, hopefully he can learn to use him with another quality runner in Jones. I would look for an offense that features the run this year in KC, with Jamaal being the main back but giving up a fair chunk of his carries. Jones would seemingly become the goal line back, as he has had back to back seasons of 13+ TD’s, whereas Charles is more of a home run threat.
The situation reminds me of Baltimore last year, where it was thought that Ray Rice would be the yardage and big play guy, with McGahee coming in to take on the goal line duties. Just in the way that situation worked out, I imagine that Charles could play his way into a full time gig, but to be realistic I would expect it to be more similar to what we predicted for the Ravens backfield last year. A yardage workhorse in Charles who will be sure to break a few long ones for scores, and a solid veteran who will see a decrease in attempts and yardage, but put up some good TD numbers.
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