Jamaal Charles Fantasy Football Stock Profile: Charles Enters Crowded Stable of Broncos RBs - Roto Street Journal
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Jamaal Charles Fantasy Football Stock Profile: Charles Enters Crowded Stable of Broncos RBs

Jamaal Charles

Position: Running Back

Former Team: Kansas City Chiefs

New Team: Denver Broncos

Movement Summary

Jamaal Charles recently signed a one-year $900,000 deal with the Denver Broncos that includes workout bonuses and incentives. The move to Denver keeps Charles in the AFC West as he now gets two shots at redemption against his former team. The Broncos provide a fresh start for Charles who had played in a total of eight games since the 2015 season. While the opportunity is fresh, fantasy owners are curious to see how fresh Charles himself is and if he can possibly return to his former first round talent glory.

Talent: 8/10

Jamaal Charles has undeniable talent, as evidence by his NFL RB record of 5.5 career yards per carry — technically fourth overall in NFL history behind QBs Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham, and fullback Marion Motley. Charles is a game changer in the backfield because of his elite speed and burst. He’s used that speed to rack up five 1,000 yard seasons between 2009 and 2014, only missing one year because of a season ending injury two weeks into the season where he had already rushed for 6.9 (nice) yards per carry. He’s a great NFL running back that can either burst through the hole, or sweep it out wide to use his speed and simply outrun slower defenders.

He was also such a fantasy weapon in his prime because of his catch passing abilities. With such good hands, Charles averaged roughly 43 catches a year when he played a full season. He topped out at 70 in his elite 2013 season and boasts an 8.6 yards per catch average. He was a true three-down back in Kansas City that was the primary and usually the only weapon in the Chiefs’ offense.

The trouble now with Charles is that he is 30 years old and is coming off two injury plagued seasons. He tore his ACL in 2015 which left him out for the year, and then had several knee scopes in 2016 that forced him onto Injured Reserve after three games. Charles clearly isn’t his former self and is a shell of the once elite fantasy running back we once all coveted. Between his age and health concerns, his talent score only drops compared to the near perfect score he would have had just years ago.

Opportunity + Usage: 5/10

There’s not a lot to love here for Charles in Denver. He’ll be joining a crowded backfield containing both CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker — both who are returning from injuries. Anderson is the team’s lead back which was made clear after the Broncos matched his offer sheet last off-season when the Dolphins tried to pry him away. Anderson saw the lion’s share of carries in the Broncos backfield until a meniscus injury cut his season short. Booker stepped in from there and appeared to be a competent back, but not one immediately ready to shoulder the load on the ground. The young rookie did show promise and talent in the receiving game.

Charles could be limited to third down work with Denver, as it’s likely the Broncos won’t want to expose him to potential injury. It wouldn’t make sense to feed him 12-plus carries a game as it appears that Charles is breaking down. If Denver wants Charles to last a full season, he’ll be used sparingly and most likely as the third down specialist catching passes out of the backfield. It’s not an ideal situation for Charles and fantasy owners to have, unless he somehow finds the fountain of youth and returns to his former self.

Coaching Scheme: 6.5/10

During the off-season, the Broncos brought in former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy to be the offensive coordinator. He served as the Broncos offensive coordinator from 2009 until 2012, before moving up the coaching ladder to become the head coach of the Chargers. During his tenure with Denver, McCoy ran offenses for both Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning. Pretty contrasting QBs right there, but it shows how high the ceiling for Denver can be. With current Denver QBs Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch on the roster, McCoy will likely to back towards a Manning-esque type offense while trying to develop the team’s franchise QB (whichever one it ends up being).

While under McCoy in San Diego, Philip Rivers had some impressive seasons with gaudy passing numbers. In the four years with McCoy at the helm, Rivers threw for over 4,000 yards in each season, while averaging 31 touchdown passes a year. It’s pretty clear that the Chargers were a pass first offense and looked to air it out often. While Denver tries to figure out which QB they want to lead the franchise for years to come, it makes sense that the Broncos will look to start throwing the ball more in an attempt to give the offense a push.

If there’s any silver lining here, it’s that in San Diego, Danny Woodhead really made a name for himself as a receiving back. In two years fully healthy under McCoy, Woodhead had 156 catches for 1,360 yards and 12 touchdowns. There’s obviously room for a receiving back in McCoy’s offense, so if Charles can prove that he’s healthy and still offers plenty of talent there’s a chance he could be a factor in Denver.

McCoy’s fingerprints should be all over this offense, as Denver elected to go with Vance Joseph for their head coaching position. Joseph was the previous defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, and had served as the defensive backs coach for the Bengals, Texans and 49ers before that.

Surrounding Talent: 8/10

The Broncos offense has some talented pieces to it, but will they stand in the way of Charles’ success? Obviously when you think of the Denver offense you think of the receivers. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are both good and dependable, which allows the offense to challenge the defense both vertically and horizontally. The Broncos have started to focus on their passing game, as Siemian last year averaged roughly 35 passing attempts per game. Those two receivers are the offense’s best chance at moving the sticks so they are the top options for the offense.

The running backs for the Broncos play more of a complimentary role within the offense. Anderson has the chance to be a very good NFL running back heading into his fifth NFL season. When he’s fully healthy, Anderson can be like a bowling ball running downfield. Unfortunately, he’s been riddled with injuries during his time in Denver. That has allowed Booker, now in his second year, to step into the spotlight for a period of time. Booker had some bright spots in 2016, but could definitely be overtaken on the depth chart by Charles. Both Anderson and Booker however are capable receivers out of the backfield. Neither have the talent that matches up with Charles, but both can handle a swing pass allowing them to get some third down work in.

Where Denver could use some help or improvement is on the offensive line. Last year the Broncos ranked in ProFootballFocus as the 24th rated offensive line in the league. They have a very good center in Matt Paradis, but the rest of the line is lacking. The majority of problems came from the right tackle spot where they graded the lowest. Smartly, Denver drafted offensive lineman Garett Bolles 20th overall out of Utah. He should be an immediate starter for the team and will be a step in the right direction moving forward.

Ultimately, the offense’s performance will be predicated by who they decide to start at quarterback. It could be either Siemian or Lynch at the moment, but whoever wins the job in camp will have the responsibility of picking up the offense’s slack from the previous season. Ingrained in a pass heavy offense, the starting QB will play a pivotal role in keeping the offense on the field and making sure these Broncos get their money’s worth of fantasy points on offense.

Risk: 4/10

Charles takes a massive hit here as he has become an immensely risky play for fantasy owners. As noted earlier, he’s missed a lot of time the last two seasons because of knee injuries. It’s never good to see reoccurring knee issues with RBs — especially those at or over the age of 30. His age is also a red flag as he’s not getting any younger and his hit the proverbial running back death age of 30. You also have to factor in that Charles enters into a crowded backfield filled with younger and somewhat healthier guys. His touches and usage aren’t guarantees and you won’t be seeing numbers like we saw in Kansas City. There’s no real reassurance coming from Charles, as he’s surrounded by more question marks than confirmations.

Overall Stock Score: 31.5/50 = 63 D-

Ceiling Projection / Scenario: As a ceiling, Charles in thrust into the lead back role after CJ Anderson goes down with yet another leg injury. He outplays Booker and is able to prevent him from eating too much into his workload. Charles’ knee holds up for the year and he doesn’t see any decrease in his speed or quickness. He continues to torch the AFC West, including monster revenge games against the Chiefs who didn’t offer to bring him back. Charles puts himself back into high end RB2 territory.

200 carries, 1,100 yards, 7 TDs; 40 catches, 350 yards

Floor Projection/Scenario (excluding injury):  Charles is relegated to third down duties as he is now older and slower. He doesn’t have the same explosive speed and agility to shake off defenders. He fails to burst through the offensive line, and is caught by linebackers on his sweeps. Anderson locks in his lead back role, while Booker improves in year two to take on the handcuff and change of pace role in Denver. Charles does a lot more watching than playing in his one year deal and starts to mull retirement.

90 carries, 375 yards, 2 TDs; 30 catches, 200 yards

Bottom Line: Charles is a big time risk for fantasy owners to take this season. Don’t be fooled by the name and get enticed to select him earlier than he should be taken. He’s not the same Kansas City star we all knew and loved. Between being stuck in a RB committee and involved in a heavier passing offense, the positives just aren’t lining up for Charles. He can serve some use as a PPR back and could be a bench stash in case of any RB injuries in Denver. It’s tough to see him being a legitimate flex play this year.

2017 Predicted Stat Line: 110 carries, 620 yards, 5 TDs; 40 catches, 280 yards

We used this formula to nail David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016. Check back for more Fantasy Stock Profiles throughout the off-season to stay ahead of your fantasy football league.


  • THE Inaugural 2016 RSJ Fantasy Football League Champion. Owner of a #bigbrain, and lover of football, baseball and college hoops. When not grinding for the RSJ, can be found captaining his beer league softball team.

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