Revisiting the Chiefs' backfield

      September 28, 2012 @ 16:41:34 PDT


Week 3 changed a lot of folks' stance on Jamaal Charles. That'll happen when you rush for 233 yards on 33 carries for a score and add another 55 yards on six catches. He now leads the NFL in rushing yardage with 323 yards. He had only 90 yards on 22 carries in the first two weeks, including a mere three yards on six attempts in Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills.

Concerns about his surgically repaired left knee surfaced in Week 2 after he experienced soreness in the same knee, causing him to be limited to only six carries. Charles owners were able to let out a collective sigh of relief based on his performance against the New Orleans Saints. So is he back as a bonafide No. 1 fantasy running back now?

Kansas City Chiefs RB Shaun Draughn
Hear that? Yes, it's Draughn

Not so fast. The Saints defense is in a state of disarray, and their linebackers consistently took bad angles and overpursued KC's rushing attack last week, leading to gaping holes and big gains. Charles is a special talent, but the Saints made him look pretty darn good.

KC brought in Peyton Hillis in the offseason to lighten Charles' load over the 16-game slate, which will be needed in his first season following knee reconstruction. At 5-foot-11, 199 pounds, Charles is easily one of the more undersized backs in the league, so he'll need all the help he can get to make it through the season.

The Hillis experiment isn't working - at least not yet. The former 1,000-yard rusher for the Cleveland Browns in 2010 has only 21 attempts through three games with the Chiefs for 93 yards. One of this year's sleeper RB picks heading into the season, Hillis hasn't endeared himself to Romeo Crennel's coaching staff.

An ankle injury suffered in Week 3 will likely keep him from playing this week against the San Diego Chargers, but even without the injury, it seemed as though Shaun Draughn was Charles' main backup already.

If you own Charles and want to ensure yourself with his immediate backup, that looks like Draughn right now, and it probably won't change anytime soon with Hillis dinged. Hillis' attitude and reputation as somewhat of a locker room cancer won't send him shooting up the depth chart in the immediate future.

The fact that Hillis hasn't done much other than his 1,177-yard season in 2010 shouldn't do him any favors in terms of you giving him the fantasy benefit of the doubt. I wouldn't blame you one bit if you dropped him in favor of Draughn or some other pressing need for your roster. I'm not saying he won't come back into fantasy football relevance this year, I just think it'll be quite a while until that happens.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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