Three reasons the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles isn’t worth one of the top picks in fantasy football


(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Correction 3:19 p.m.:

Three players were omitted in the list of players posting 10 or more touchdowns two years in a row since 2004

Original Post:

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles had a career season in 2013, carrying the ball 259 times for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns while also grabbing 70 catches for 693 yards and seven touchdowns in his first year playing for Coach Andy Reid, who thinks he can still improve.

“He still surprised me that he could catch that well,” Reid said in March during the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando. “He’s like a wide receiver out there running routes, all those things. He does it so easy. I saw progress all the way through the season, whether it was just subtleties in the run game or the blocking scheme, the route running. We were able to expand his package as we went. I think he’ll just continue on.”

Fantasy football owners agree. It’s early, but in 881 mock drafts conducted between July 7 and July 10, Charles was in a virtual three-way for the No. 1 pick along with running backs LeSean McCoy of the Eagles and Adrian Peterson of the Vikings.

But here are three reasons why Charles shouldn’t be picked that high.

Reid indicated he wants to use backup Knile Davis more

Davis got 81 touches last season as a rookie and ran for four touchdowns and 242 yards. He was used primarily on first (67.1 percent of rushing attempts) and second down (30 percent). From September to November, Davis averaged 1.9 rushing attempts per game, but that number grew to more than nine per game in December.

“Knile was a rookie and he was learning every week and getting better every week,” Reid said. “As the season went on we were able to give him the ball a little bit more. Coming into this season, we’ll be able to mix it up a little bit better than what we did early in the season last year.”

The Chiefs lost three key starters on offensive line

Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah all left via free agency, which could cut down on the run-blocking effectiveness of Kansas City’s offensive line. Here are the 2013 Pro Football Focus run-blocking ratings for each of the departed starters along, with who we can expect in the trenches for the Chiefs when the season starts:

Only center Rodney Hudson had a positive run-blocking rating last season, which could be problematic for the Chiefs rushing game.

It’s hard to repeat a 10-touchdown performance

Five running backs, including Charles, rushed for 10 or more touchdowns last season, and history suggests most, if not all, will see a big drop in scoring production.

Over the past decade, there have been 87 running backs who scored 10 or more rushing touchdowns. Here the list of players who were able to follow it up with another double-digit performance:

  • Shaun Alexander, 2004
  • LaDainian Tomlinson, 2005
  • Corey Dillon, 2005
  • Larry Johnson, 2006
  • Adrian Peterson, 2008 (and every other year of his career)
  • LaDainian Tomlinson, 2008
  • Maurice Jones-Drew, 2008
  • Thomas Jones, 2008
  • Michael Turner, 2009
  • Chris Johnson, 2010
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis, 2011
  • Arian Foster, 2011
  • Marshawn Lynch, 2012

Over the past three seasons, members of the 10-touchdown club have seen almost five fewer touchdowns (4.6) on average the following year.

It is tempting to have the Chiefs MVP over the past few seasons on your fantasy roster, but resist the urge and let someone else take the risk of a top-three pick being a bust.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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