Fantasy football draft season is fast approaching. Prep to win your league with SI.com's ongoing preview, including team-by-team breakdowns that examine each club's key fantasy storyline and much more.
Key fantasy storyline
There seems to be a groundswell of support for Jamaal Charles as an early round fantasy pick this season. Charles has averaged an exceptional 5.8 yards per carry through his five seasons, and he's supported by a running back-friendly offense and play-caller this season. New head coach Andy Reid not only features his backs in a run game that gets speedy backs into space, but he also throws to them frequently via screens and utilizes them as third-down receivers.
Reid turned Bryant Westbrook and LeSean McCoy into fantasy stars, and he can do the same with a talent like Charles. A breakaway back in a near-ideal system sounds like a fantasy utopia, right? Not so fast. Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon, consider some of his drawbacks.
Of Charles' 65 career games in five seasons, he has started just 34 of them, which means he isn't accustomed to a full season of wear and tear. Although he started 15 games last season -- coming off a major knee reconstruction, no less -- he hasn't done it in back-to-back seasons yet.
Also, keep in mind that Charles is more of a "managed" running back as opposed to a workhorse. Charles is not going to be a true candidate for 10-plus touchdowns. Even Charles himself admits he loses his effectiveness after 15 touches in a game; he surpassed 25 touches just three times a year ago. He's barely 200 pounds, and he's generally not favored along the goal line like the Bucs' Doug Martin was as a rookie.
Granted, Charles will be staying in the game in obvious passing situations, and he won't have to contend with a goal-line plodder like Peyton Hillis or Thomas Jones anymore. But remember, game situations often dictate the function of a running back. Chances are, the Chiefs won't be an instant success in Reid's first year, and they likely won't be running the clock out on many leads. There are other backs out there with better fantasy resumes and projections in this writer's book.
|Kansas City Chiefs' 2013 schedule|
|Including a look at how the Chiefs' upcoming foes fared defensively in fantasy last season.|
Stats via FFToday.com
The Chiefs have a favorable schedule for their offense, particularly in the first half of the season -- they should get off to a good start, statistically. The dangerous matchups for Jamaal Charles come in Weeks 7, 11 and 13 -- a game against Houston and the home-and-away against Denver twice in three weeks at the end of the fantasy regular season. There is nothing here to scare an owner off drafting any of the Chiefs fantasy options. In fact, this should make an owner like them a little bit more.
QB: Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray
RB: Jamaal Charles, Kniles Davis, Shaun Draughn, Cyrus Gray
WR: Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster
TE: Anthony Fasano, Tony Moeaki, Travis Kelce
K: Ryan Succop
|Kansas City Chiefs' 2012 defensive rankings|
Despite the bad numbers from a year ago, there is some legit talent on this defense. Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali are All-Pro-quality linebackers, while Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry are strong in the secondary, especially with the addition of corner Dunta Robinson, which should help the depth. Don't target this defense in standard D/ST formats, but Johnson and Berry are sure to get picked in IDP leagues. Both are top 15 options at their positions. The parts are greater than the sum here.