Jamaal Charles is thought by most to be in line for a massive season in 2011. I know I am one of millions of people who took him in their fantasy league as their No. 1 running back and likely first-round choice. His 6.4 yards per carry in 2010 are enough to make fantasy owners drool at the thought of Charles getting a larger share of the carries this season and perhaps earning a rushing title.
My fantasy team, of course named "Charles In Charge," is currently in season seven of a 14-team dynasty league that allows me five keepers. I got my hands on Jamaal Charles midway through last season when I sent Ahmad Bradshaw and Malcom Floyd to The Cheeseheads in exchange for Charles and Jason Snelling (to handcuff to Michael Turner).
Needless to say, when the time came to submit my keepers for the coming season, I kept Charles and am now chronicling my thoughts week by week as to how it feels centering my team around a man who only has one year of solid production under his belt and plays for a Chiefs team most people expect to regress.
It is now 7 a.m. the Monday before Week 1. The Chiefs decided to not use Charles much at all in the first three preseason games. I really didn't mind terribly because his natural talent is undeniable and his health going into the season is more important than practicing a three-yard run off-tackle against the Buccaneers' second-stringers.
But for some reason Kansas City head coach Todd Haley decided to play his starters well into the fourth quarter in the final preseason game and the result was a bit unnerving.
Charles finished with 19 yards rushing, 18 yards receiving and two—yes, two—fumbles lost in the red zone.
I know it is only the preseason. I know you can't trust anything you see in a game that doesn't matter—but I can't help but gulp a little bit when I hear that stat line coming against mostly Packers second- and third-string players over nearly a full game.
Now Charles did only receive nine carries, but I'd have to think that if not for the fumbles he would have been given more touches like the rest of the big names on the team. I assume the intent of Haley playing those guys as long as he did was to give them a little confidence in a situation they should be able to produce in.
The fact that he was getting red zone carries in the first place is a good sign. I am already haunted by the vision of Thomas Jones coming off the bench on third-and-goal to punch it in after Charles ran the ball 60 yards to get them there.
Week 1 means a home game against the Bills, who are still a team very much in transition and will come into Arrowhead Stadium as the underdogs. I am obviously encouraged by the matchup and I really expect Charles to put the fumbling issues behind him and show the rest of the league he is worthy of the first-round ranking he's being given by putting the boots to the Bills.
Stat Line Prediction for Week 1: 23 carries, 114 yards, 1 TD