Since the arrival of Andy Reid to Kansas City, the Chiefs have consistently ranked in the middle of the league in rushing attempts, but ranked in the top 5 teams for rushing touchdowns. A key reason for this is the ability of Jamaal Charles to make the most of his opportunities and his nose for the end zone. To emphasize the talent of Charles he currently is the all-time leader on the yards per carry list, with a minimum of 1000 career carries. Number 2, 3, and 4 on that list are Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, and Adrian Peterson. Not only is he ahead of these great players, he is half a yard per carry ahead of Sanders and Peterson. You can’t replace a player like that, but what would happen to the Chiefs offense if Jamaal Charles was lost for the year?
RB – Knile Davis
One of the few clear handcuffs this year at the running back position is for the Jamaal Charles owner to grab Knile Davis late. Davis is a player of limited ability, especially in comparison to Charles, but he will be productive in this offense. As a case in point, anytime he has had more than 10 carries for the Chiefs he either gets a touchdown, 100 yards rushing or both. In the 6 games where this has happened he has recorded a total of 124 carries for 478 yards and 7 touchdowns. These are RB1 stats and if something were to happen to Charles, Davis is a must grab.
QB – Alex Smith
If Jamaal Charles were lost, then there is no way that Knile Davis or any other back on this roster is going offer the class that he brings to this team. This in turn will mean that Alex Smith has to throw the ball more frequently and even occasionally downfield to keep the offense moving. At the moment Smith isn’t even rated as a QB2 according to his ADP, but he has proven in the past that he can offer fantasy stats in the right circumstances. Despite only one 300 yard passing game in his last 37 appearances, he has 8 games over 285 yards in this period. His last 3 games of 2014 offered 293, 297, and 311 passing yards, so he is capable of production and worth adding in this scenario
WR – Jeremy Maclin
The big free agent acquisition for the Chiefs this off season was Jeremy Maclin. Fresh off a WR1 fantasy season in Philadelphia he gives the passing game a chance to keep defenses honest. The loss of Charles would result in less dependence on the running game and allow Alex Smith to run a more threatening aerial game. As the clear number 1 receiver Maclin could at least approach his numbers from last year and it would significantly improve his upside.
TE – Travis Kelce
The inability of Dwayne Bowe and the other receivers to offer a threat in the passing game last year forced the Chiefs into utlilizing their inexperienced tight end in Travis Kelce. He responded magnificently in his first season on the field. The loss of Jamaal Charles would be devastating to the offense, but they would still have class players in Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin to call upon. It is unlikely that Kelce would be required for more blocking in the absence of Charles and he is also unlikely to see a huge increase in targets.
WR – Albert Wilson
Albert Wilson was an undrafted free agent who came on towards the end of his rookie year. After struggling to make an impact early in the season he had a 3 game stretch of 12 catches for 209 yards at the end. He will have a tough fight to hold onto the number 2 receiver role all year, but if he were to win it the loss of Jamaal Charles would give the 2nd wide receiver a chance at fantasy impact.
WR – Chris Conley
Chris Conley is a 3rd round rookie who offers size, but more importantly speed to the Chiefs offense. As a rookie who lacks polish, he missed time in training camp with a knee strain that put him significantly behind Albert Wilson in the fight for the 2nd wide receiver role. If he can stay fit he offers a fantasy owner with deep rosters a chance at an exciting talent that is more likely to come to fruition in the event of a Jamaal Charles injury. Otherwise Kansas City is likely to take their time in getting him involved.
RB – Charcandrick West
The current leader for the 3rd running back spot is Charcandrick West, an undrafted free agent last year who was on the Chiefs practice squad until making the main roster in November. So far in preseason he has made use of his time with impressive performances. In the event of a Jamaal Charles injury, West would be elevated to the key role of backup behind Knile Davis and would offer fantasy owners a potential steal if Davis, who is suffering a knee sprain, were to also miss time.
WR/RB – De’Anthony Thomas
De’Anthony Thomas was officially moved in the off season from the running back position to the wide receiver slot. In the event of an injury to Jamaal Charles there is every chance the Chiefs would move Thomas back to his former position. Although undersized and used more on special teams he did have 14 carries and 24 receptions last year in his rookie season. Unlikely to offer more than a few touches a game, he could get points as a 3rd down back and would merit addition in the event of a run of injuries at the position.