Generally, fantasy owners would be excited about one of the most prolific weapons of the past decade changing teams. That is hardly the case with Jamaal Charles joining the Denver Broncos. After nine explosive, and often injury-shortened, seasons in Kansas City, the all-purpose fantasy machine heads to Denver with little fanfare.
From 2009 to 2014, sans one year lost to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Charles was a PPR dynamo, accounting for top-20 offensive yardage outputs in three of those five seasons. In that window, only Chris Johnson’s 2009 season produced a higher average of fantasy points per game in a single season (21.6) than Charles’ 2013 season (20.5) — and that’s in standard scoring!
Charles played in eight total games since the end of the 2014 season, having missed time in seven of his nine pro seasons. He will turn 31 in December and simply cannot be trusted for anything close to a full workload. The reduced role should help to keep him on the field, but a pair of torn ACLs and Father Time working against him offer pause.
It’s no secret the glory years are behind JC, and now his role shifts to that of a pass-catching specialist. In Denver, Charles will be asked to share touches with C.J. Anderson and perhaps even Devontae Booker. Anderson is no stranger to injury himself, which at least opens the door for Charles to see more work should the fifth-year back once again miss time. Normally, fantasy owners would be all about a backup seeing more action, but Charles has proven the workload is too taxing on his body.
Fantasy football takeaway
Despite offseason improvements, Denver’s offensive line is far from impressive, and the quarterback situation is unsettling. The defenses of the AFC West are tough and improved.
While Denver’s offensive coordinator Mike McCoy wasn’t much of one for tossing to running backs during his first stint in the Mile High City, basically the opposite happened when he coached in San Diego. Danny Woodhead caught 76 balls in 2013 and 80 in ’15. Melvin Gordon snagged 74 in 27 career games under McCoy. Nuance can be argued as to why this happened, but there is at least ample precedent for believing a healthy Charles will be utilized effectively.
In standard leagues, gamers shouldn’t think of Charles as more than depth for the occasional flex start. PPR owners can bump him up a notch. As long as Charles is on the field, his floor is that of regular flex play with the potential for an occasional splash game.