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Fantasy focus: Neck injury leaves Charles' immediate future in doubt

Just when the Chiefs' season seemingly couldn't get any worse, it did. Jamaal Charles left Thursday's loss to the Chargers with what the Chiefs called a neck injury. While it's too early to tell if Charles will miss any time, it's never to early to check on backups for your fantasy team.

Charles took a sharp helmet-to-helmet hit, bounced off of it and took another big hit. As he hit the ground, he reached immediately for his helmet, a very good sign. Charles did not appear to lose consciousness or exhibit the "fencer's response," in which the arms go straight out from the body in a clear sign that signals from the brain were interrupted. Think of it like a computer locking up.

The hit was low, near the earhole, and almost appeared to go down to the shoulder. The collision forced Charles' neck to the left, and while the Chiefs' medical staff appeared to check him for a concussion, Charles was obviously more concerned with his neck.

Neck injuries have a broad range of outcomes, from serious spinal injuries to the merely painful ones that bring the phrase "pain in the neck" into sharp focus. If Charles is more toward that end of the scale, the extra time he gets before Week 10 could be key. Any more serious indications would likely mean lost time and more losses for the Chiefs.

In the meantime, Shaun Draughn might be the best potential pickup, after Peyton Hillis got almost nothing on his seven carries against the Chargers. But with the Kansas City offense, "best" is a relative term.

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