2016 Fantasy Football Strategy: Jamaal Charles an even better Draft Day bargain
Even though Andy Reid admitted he's not quite ready to play, Jamaal Charles is still worth targeting in Fantasy Football drafts and trades.
"Jamaal might need some more time to get himself back."
Those were the words of Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who wouldn't rule running back Jamaal Charles out for the team's Week 1 game versus the Chargers but did admit his star back is "the furthest away" from being field-ready compared to other Chiefs players coming back from injuries or long layoffs.
It's the last thing you want to hear. It's as if Reid is giving a fair warning to Fantasy owners to prepare for life without Charles, even if it's just for a week. If it's just one week.
Charles is still rounding into form after ACL surgery and has been practicing, but the team truly doesn't have a big need to get its playmaker on the field given how impressive Spencer Ware has looked this preseason.
With a home opener against a Chargers defense that isn't expected to stop many running backs, why rush Charles back?
And if Ware continues to play well, why push Charles into a heavy workload when he is ready to play? Why not find a way to utilize both backs?
This revelation has and will make Fantasy owners nauseous and nervous about taking Charles. Over the past couple of days we've seen Charles slide as far as early Round 3. Ware, meanwhile, has gathered steam as people take him in late Round 7 or Round 8, whether they draft Charles or not.
There's a pretty great value to be had here. Charles' injury happened last October. He's not far from playing, and while the Chiefs have to like what they've seen from Ware, they know he's not nearly as explosive as Charles. That's why Charles shouldn't be in danger of losing his grip on the majority of touches in the Kansas City run game.
If you keep yourself from panicking over Week 1 and take a season-long view, Charles should still be one of Fantasy's better running backs. Shoot, he's almost healthy now. It's not like he's sitting out practice.
If you haven't drafted yet, why not target Charles in late Round 2 or early Round 3 with the intention of picking up Ware in early Round 7? Yeah, drafting two Chiefs running backs with your first seven picks doesn't seem like such a hot deal compared to a couple of weeks ago, but this is one of the league's conservative, running back oriented offenses. As long as it doesn't become a legitimate 50-50 timeshare when both are healthy, you should have at least one reliable starter from week to week.
If you have drafted and you've got Charles, do what you can to trade for Ware. It might take a running back with a sixth- or seventh-round ADP, but if it gives you peace of mind, it's worth it. Don't trade Charles away unless you get an incredibly generous trade offer.
If you have drafted and you don't have Charles, it's a good time to try and pry him away from the guy who took him. That could be easy -- he's in the headlines as someone who might not be ready for Week 1. A person could get cold feet and deal Charles for a running back or receiver with an ADP between 20th and 35th overall.
We can't rule out Charles as a Week 1 inactive, but we also can't rule out him being one of the biggest bargains this Fantasy season. He's done something like this to us before -- in 2014 he hurt his foot in training camp and then dealt with injuries all year long and still wound up as the seventh-best rusher in Fantasy with over 1,300 total yards and 14 touchdowns.
He's not even hurt in 2016 -- just taking it easy. There's plenty of reason for optimism.
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