[NOTE: Since this piece was published, Jamaal Charles was added to the injury report with swelling in his knee. Given that the Chiefs have a plug-and-play replacement in Spencer Ware, it is no longer advisable to start him this weekend as he will likely have his snaps and carries significantly limited to ensure his health.]
Jamaal Charles came back, finally ending the tortuous 2016 campaign for his fantasy football owners. Or was the torture just beginning? In his first two games, Charles combined for just 40 yards on eleven carries. Those bold enough to start him last week got a rushing touchdown to salvage their day but probably were not encouraged by his otherwise pedestrian nine carries for 33 yards.
Never fear, Jamaal Charles owner, as there is plenty to like about him going forward. First, Jamaal Charles was out-snapped and outrushed by Spencer Ware and his career day, yes, but many of those snaps and targets came when the game was out of hand in Charles’ first real game action this season. This likely came due to the disgusting field conditions as the Oakland Coliseum was en route to being nearly completely rained out during the game. Given Charles’ various leg injuries and his lack of football shape, the Chiefs were likely taking it easy with their prized back. That is unlikely to continue this week as they take on New Orleans.
Also encouraging for the Jamaal Charles owner was his usage. Charles had nine carries and two targets (11 opportunities) and played just 15 snaps. That means that Charles got the ball on 73% of the plays where he was on the field. That reeks of working a player back in and limiting his snaps to make sure he isn’t wasted pass blocking and potentially injuring himself because he was out of shape. He played well on his snaps, considering the rust, and set up a Spencer Ware touchdown by carrying a third of the Raiders’ defenders down to the 2.5-yard line on one of the more impressive six-yard runs you will find.
Charles will get worked more into the game as the Chiefs take on literally the worst defense against running backs in the NFL. The Saints have allowed 11 touchdowns to running backs in their first five games, and that includes absolute duds by the awful Giants backfield. Don’t let the split backfield worry you, either. Don’t forget this is the same team that let both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman go ham on them on Monday Night Football a few weeks ago. He will likely be worked into the rotation, but that will be plenty of opportunity for Charles. Ideally, Charles is a flex for you this week, but given the running back landscape, it is possible you may need him for a start. Don’t feel too badly about that if that is the case; he has plenty of opportunities to succeed.