Jamaal Charles has been in the NFL since 2008. Considering that I've been in probably somewhere around 25-30 leagues since then, how many times do you think I've drafted the stud Chiefs running back?
(Hint: It's also the same number of touchdowns that Melvin Gordon, Jordy Nelson, Rich Gannon, and Ryan Leaf combined for last season.)
Now, there is a caveat. I did trade for Charles in 2013 when he was having a great season, and I had him for that five touchdown eruption against the Raiders. That was a good time.
I'm telling you right now (in June):
He's not worth your draft pick.
FantasyPros has Charles ranked as the 16th overall player and the 7th overall running back. His ADP (Average Draft Position) is right around there also.
Where do I have him?
He's my 29th overall player and my 12th overall running back which, in short, means I'm not going to have him on any of my teams unless I happen to be in a league where every single owner was burned by Charles last year.
There are two main reasons why I'm not touching Charles in 2016, both of which you probably already know: durability and competition.
Charles suffered a torn ACL for the second time in his career in Week 5 of the 2015 season. Some players rebound effectively from torn ACLs (see Peterson, Adrian Robot), but it's not common.
Consider the type of runner that Charles is. He isn't a bruiser. He generally isn't going to run guys over - though I'm sure it could happen a couple times. He's shifty. He's elusive. He makes people look like they're running around with banana peels stuck to their cleats. That means he's going to have to put a lot of weight on his knees, which is a recipe for disaster considering his history.
The way I see it, there's about a 10% chance that Charles is fully healthy and fully effective. There's a 45% chance that he's effective for a few weeks and gets hurt again, and the other 45% is a Jamaal Charles that doesn't get hurt, but doesn't even come close to the stat lines that we're used to seeing. Therein lies my second concern, partly.
After Charles got hurt last year, their backfield was generally a mess. I still think Knile Davis should have gotten a shot to be the workhorse in KC because he's always been such an effective backup.
Charcandrick (ahem, Charmander) West came in and often did a stellar job replacing Charles (trying my hardest not to make a Pokémon joke but MAN do I want to). When West wasn't on the field, it was generally Spencer Ware.
Weirdly enough, in the offseason West and Ware both received...the same exact 2-year contract.
That leaves us with a crowded backfield of a former (and possibly? current) stud in Charles and two more-than-formidable backups in West and Ware.
In the five games Charles played last year (including the one when he got hurt), he averaged 18.4 touches per game. I doubt they can risk giving Charles 17-20 touches per game coming off of this knee injury. If that's the case, I don't think we'll see him for long.
I can't imagine spending a mid-second round pick on a guy who's coming off his second torn ACL and will likely be splitting carries with two backups.
I'd love to see it. I'd love to see him come back and be his old self. The risks, however, are just too high.
I appreciate the offer, sir, but I’ll respectfully decline.