Fantasy Football: What’s Jamaal Charles impact on Denver Broncos?

Nov 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (45) saves a touchdown by pushing Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) out of bounds after thirty five yard run in the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (45) saves a touchdown by pushing Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) out of bounds after thirty five yard run in the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Kansas City Chief running back Jamaal Charles has signed with the Broncos. How should fantasy football owners feel about Denver’s backfield?

Jamaal Charles has spent his entire nine-year career in the AFC West. We learned on Tuesday that, although he will be changing cities, he will not be changing divisions. The ex-Kansas City Chief has signed with former AFC West rival Denver Broncos and joins a backfield that finished 27th in rushing offense in 2016.

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Will Charles be able to provide the Broncos rushing attack with a much needed spark it lacked a season ago?

A Look At Charles

Last year Charles was slow to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 5 of the 2015 season. As a result, he missed the team’s first four games in 2016. He finally made his season debut in Week 4, nine days shy of a full year since he tore his ACL. He only managed two carries for seven yards.

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After a bye in Week 5, Charles started to look like himself in Week 6 against the Oakland Raiders. He carried the ball nine times for 33 yards and one touchdown and added two receptions for 14 yards. Unfortunately, Charles knees did not respond well to his first significant action since 2015.

He was shutdown for the rest of the season 16 days after he touched the ball 11 times in Week 6. Charles ended up getting surgery on both of his knees after he was placed on injured reserved.

Over the last two seasons, Charles has only appeared in eight games. He’s totaled 83 carries for 404 yards and 23 receptions for 191 yards. On the bright side, Charles has still looked relatively effective when touching the ball as he’s averaged 4.9 yards-per-carry (YPC) across his last eight games.

The real question for Charles is can his knees hold up at the age of 30?

A Look At Denver’s 2016 Backfield

Last year the Broncos rushing attack was expected to be reasonably dangerous. Their head coach at the time, Gary Kubiak, has a history of manufacturing a ton of yards from the running back position. Running back C.J. Anderson appeared more than capable of shouldering the load as he averaged 4.7 YPC in both 2014 and 2015.

After opening the year as the starter and seeing 20 carries in each of the first two games, Anderson began losing work to rookie Devontae Booker. A big part of that had to do with Anderson’s ineffective play throughout games. In Weeks 2-6, Anderson averaged 3.7 YPC or less in each of those five games.

Anderson did come alive in Week 7’s game against the Houston Texans when he finished with 107 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. The game, however, turned out to Anderson’s last of the season. He went on injured reserved four days after his 107-yard rushing performance with a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Devontae Booker averaged 4.8 YPC on 51 totes between Weeks 1-7. After Anderson went down and he took over as the starter, the rookie fell flat on his face. Booker went on to start the next six games, but managed a pathetic 2.7 YPC on 98 carries. He never went over 79 yards rushing or 3.3 YPC in any of those six games.

Where We Are Now

Charles signing in Denver does not make him the new starter in town. C.J. Anderson is the team’s starter and it’s not debatable. That isn’t to say Charles can’t and won’t be used in Denver’s backfield.

I do expect Charles and Anderson to form some sort of committee in the Broncos backfield. Is it a 50/50 committee? I wouldn’t go that far. Right now I view it as a 70/30 to 60/40 committee in favor of Anderson.

As far as Booker goes, he’s off the fantasy radar as of now. He would need an injury to either Anderson or Charles to become relevant again. Considering both players finished 2016 on injured reserved, that very well could happen.

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I’m not tripping over myself to own any running back in Denver. Yes, C.J. Anderson still remains at the top of the depth chart but the addition of Charles does hurt his stock. The Broncos are not adding Charles to simply be a backup. They are hoping he’ll show glimpses of the running back he was for so many years in Kansas City.

According to Fantasy Football Calculator, C.J. Anderson’s average draft position (ADP) is at the end of the third-round in 10-team leagues. That’s a little high for a guy who hasn’t totaled at least 180 carries or 850 rushing yards in any of his four seasons in the NFL. As I mentioned earlier, Anderson started to lose playing time to rookie Devontae Booker last season. Even if Charles re-injures one of his knees, what’s to say Anderson and Booker wouldn’t form some sort of committee like last year?

In the third round, I want a player with a little more stability and upside. I would be more comfortable taking Anderson in the fourth round and maybe (hopefully) the signing of Charles pushes down his ADP.

Charles’ ADP on other hand is in the middle of the ninth round in 10-team leagues. Although he is being selected a lot later than Anderson, that spot is still a little too high for me.

Charles is 30-years old and is coming off surgery on both of his knees. He has suffered two torn ACL’s over the last six years. With no guaranteed money on his contract, there’s a chance he does not even make the team’s final 53-man roster. I personally don’t believe that’ll be the case, but it wouldn’t shock me if it happens.

Next: Fantasy: Winners, Losers From 2017 NFL Draft, Day 1

In the ninth round, there are still quality starters on the board whether it’s a starting quarterback (Kirk Cousins), tight end (Kyle Rudolph) or a WR2/3 who would start in the FLEX (Jamison Crowder). I would much rather spend a late-round pick on a different committee running back such as James White, Charles Sims or Darren Sproles. All who are currently being drafted at least four rounds after Charles.