Jamaal Charles: How Star RB's Torn ACL Impacts Fantasy Football

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Jamaal Charles: How Star RB's Torn ACL Impacts Fantasy Football
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It just goes to show that fantasy football is just as much about luck as it is skill and timing. 

Injuries rock the landscape of fantasy football, and this time a top-five pick in most drafts is the latest casualty. 

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles injured himself stretching for extra yardage down the sideline halfway through the first quarter in the Chiefs' game against Detroit. What appeared to be a knee-related injury forced Charles to be carted off the field, ending his day with just two carries. 

In a tweet by Adam Schefter, it was reported that Charles had suffered a torn ACL, which obviously would end his season, and possibly put the start of next season in jeopardy. 

Charles owners and Chiefs fans need their grieving time, but it's necessary to look forward and examine how this unfortunate injury shakes up fantasy football. 

Backup Battle: Thomas Jones or Dexter McCluster?

The first reaction here is to look for the backup to Charles as the next relevant fantasy player. 

Indeed, Jones will be the starter and take over for Charles. He comes with years of experience, leadership and a proven record of consistency. After Charles left the game, Jones rushed 12 times for 40 yards, for a YPC average of 3.3. 

After just two carries for three yards last week, he was dropped in a quarter of ESPN leagues, and is available in about 39 percent of leagues. Undoubtedly, that number will get close to 0 percent, as owners rush to pick him up. 

Which is the better pickup?

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However, my opinion is that McCluster is the better pickup here, especially if your waivers run by auction (meaning you'd spend less on him). Owned in only 7 percent of leagues, chances are pretty good that he's there. But why pick him over Jones? 

Thomas Jones is the starter in name, but he's not a very enticing player. His skill set is declining, as shown by a paltry 3.7 YPC in 2010 compared to Charles' 6.4 in fewer carries. 

This isn't to compare McCluster with Charles, but those with dynamic speed and play-making ability tend to fare better. Even in Sunday's game against Detroit, McCluster carried eight times for 51 yards, more than Jones could muster with 12 chances. 

What's more, McCluster will make a Charles-esque impact on the passing game, making him the better back, especially in PPR leagues. 

The obvious caveat with him is a small frame (5'8", 170 lbs) and injury risk that will limit him to no more than 15 touches, but you can expect him to be more productive with those touches than Jones. 

Neither Jones nor McCluster should become starters for you (unlike the expectations with Brandon Jackson last year), and are best stashed in the last few bench spots. This offense doesn't inspire much confidence in the running game, especially if the Chiefs keep getting blown out.

However, given the scarcity of starting running backs, you should pick up McCluster as an upside stash. Ignore Jones and his starter tag, as you'll probably see games in which he gets 10 carries for 27 yards as the Chiefs get blown out. 

Leon Halip/Getty Images
Don't be Matt Stafford, stay away from this guy!

Cassel/Bowe

 

It's hard to find a worse passing game in the last few years than the Cassel-operated Chiefs passing game. As Cassel continues to hover around 100 yards per game with regular interceptions, it's no wonder that Kansas City scores so few points. 

Without Charles, this offense isn't even one-dimensional. It's putrid all around, and Cassel loses even more value, as opponents don't need to focus on Charles. You could probably start dropping him if you want the roster space. 

Bowe's role in all of this is interesting. One would think that as the only player with a heartbeat in this offense, defenses would swarm him. However, he still made up most of the yardage that Cassel threw for Sunday with 101 yards on five receptions. 

Going forward, you can expect exclusively double coverages his way, which will limit fantasy potential. This is going to be a frustrating situation where he might put up solid yardage, and then lay down a goose egg the next week. Capitalize on his good outing this week, and sell when possible to avoid putting yourself in anxiety-inducing situations with Bowe. 

Juicy Match-ups for D/ST's

The Lions feasted on the Chiefs offense this week, and the Bills did as well in week 1. Going forward, this is a matchup to keep your eyes peeled for, as you can probably expect double-digit points from your D/ST. 

If you're playing the match-up game with your D/ST's this season, always look first for KC's opponent. Picks, sacks, and fumbles will be sending points your way as this offense shows no signs of being competitive without Charles or a passing game to speak of. 

Next opponents: San Diego (Week 3), Minnesota (Week 4), Indianapolis (Week 5), Oakland (Week 6), and San Diego again (Week 7). 

You can also expect great games from your offensive players when they play Kansas City. 

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