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Jamaal Charles 2010 = Chris Johnson 2009?

Chris Johnson finished his 2008 by compiling 537 total yards over his final five contests. Mind you, Johnson was basically in 50-50 time share with LenDale White for the entire season. Things took a drastic turn in 2009.

After Johnson’s 284-yard performance against the Houston Texans in Week 2, it was obvious that Tennessee needed him on the field as often as possible. Johnson took roughly four times the number of carries from White from there on out. As I’m sure you already know, Johnson’s ascension, coupled with White’s issues, have seemingly knocked White out of the league.

Enter Jamaal Charles.
The third-year running back from Texas possesses the same size as Johnson (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) and roughly the same speed (4.38 40-yard dash). Both players caught 40-plus balls out of the backfield last season, providing extra value in points-per-reception leagues. More impressively, Johnson displayed his superior speed in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos, compiling 259 rushing yards on 25 carries.

During the offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs signed 31-year-old
Thomas Jones. Jones had a great season with the New York Jets last year, rushing for 1,402 yards. However, Jones rushed for only 117 yards during three playoff games. Some wonder whether Jones was simply fatigued or finally showing signs of slowing down after five straight 290-plus carry seasons. Regardless, the addition of Jones should be a huge boost for Charles owners. Jones will give the Chiefs a reliable change of pace back who can spell Charles.

From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t expect Jones to be much more than a third-down or goal line back for Kansas City. Jones has a nose for the end zone (27 rushing scores in his last two seasons), but has logged approximately 2,300 carries over his career. Jones could very well be the
Willis McGahee to Charles’ Ray Rice and that tandem works pretty.

Some will worry about the overall ineptness of the Chiefs stymieing Charles’ value, but Chris Johnson compiled 722 total yards before the Titans even won a game last year. Point being, if a player is dynamic enough, the team will feed him the rock and that’s all we can ask for.

According to
Fantasy Football Calculator, Charles has an average draft position of 26, which is a third-round value in most leagues. I have a problem with Shonn Greene (13) and Ryan Mathews (21) being taken before Charles. Mathews has never taken an NFL snap and Greene has never been a lead back. Even the injury-prone Ryan Grant (25) is being drafted ahead of Charles.

We’ve all seen the dynamic, big time ability from Charles. Fantasy championships are not won by drafting with caution. Charles is a team-defining talent that can put your team over the top. If things break right for Charles this season, he could become Chris Johnson-lite.

It’s definitely possible to pair Johnson and Charles in your backfield this season. If you are fortunate enough to have this explosive duo, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

2010 Projection
: 1,200 rushing yards, 7 TD; 350 receiving yards, 2 TD.

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