The Player Profile series breaks down the 2012 performances of key players at each position in order to project where they should be drafted in 2013. Dig in, read up, and look ahead.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
To many owners, Jamaal Charles was a disappointment in 2012. And in some ways, he was. However, most of the disappointment was the result of games in which Charles was under-involved. In 2012, Charles played 8 games in which he had more than 20 touches (carries and receptions). He also saw six games in which he had less than 15 carries. With the atrocious quarterback play in Kansas City, it seemed insane that Charles didn’t get more carries.
His workload was incredibly unpredictable and left many owners scratching their heads (if not crying into a bottle of Jack Daniels). Charles did nothing to redeem his season through touchdown totals, reaching pay dirt only 6 times. All in all, Charles gave his owners a season that was underwhelming, considering a lot of owners spent a second round pick on this Kansas City running back. I understand why people considered this a down year for J.C. of K.C.
But despite the ups and downs of his 2012 campaign, Charles finished the season with the 8th most fantasy points among running backs. Even with weeks that Charles barely saw the football, he finished the season with the 7th most carries and the 6th most total touches among running backs. The workload was there, but it seemed to come and go at random.
Besides his workload, another thing that hurt Charles’ value this year was the slight decline of his involvement in the passing game. Charles had 35 receptions this year, compared to the 45 receptions he had in 2010 and the 40 receptions he had in 2009. While he was a frustrating player to own in 2012, he still had a good year and rewarded owners with a solid RB1 performance.
Looking ahead to 2013, there’s a lot of reason to believe that Charles will bounce back in a big way. The addition of Andy Reid as the head coach in Kansas City has the potential to revitalize the Chiefs dismal offense. Fellow Late Round Quarterback staff writer, Chad Scott, wrote a fantastic article that delves into why Charles’ 2012 season wasn’t that bad and why 2013 might be the best season Jamaal Charles has ever seen.
Additionally, before the 2011 season, Charles hadn’t missed a game due to injury and seems to have recovered nicely from his 2011 knee injury. Owners need not worry about injury sidelining this PPR machine.
At his current ADP of 10th overall, Charles is a good investment for 2013, especially in PPR formats. I don’t see his ADP moving more than a couple of spots by the time draft season arrives, either. Charles’ workload should be more consistent in 2013 and that’s the only thing currently holding him back. He has every chance to finish the 2013 season as a top five runner, but his ADP reflects the risk that he will have another “down” year.
Personally, I’m high on Charles and I’m targeting him as my RB1 if I have a late-first round pick. I firmly believe Charles will finish the 2013 season as a top-5 fantasy running back. Believe, gamers; 2013 is the season to invest in the “Jesus Christ of Kansas City”.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
Spiller might just be my favorite running back in 2013. Part of the fantasy football world has spent the last two years frustrated with C.J. Spiller’s constant time-share with fellow running back Fred Jackson. The #FreeCJSpiller Twitter movement was stronger in 2012 than it’s ever been.
2012 finally gave Spiller-backers something to be happy about. Fred Jackson took the back seat after sustaining a knee injury in Week 1, and Spiller was (somewhat) freed. Despite missing Weeks 2, 3, and 11, Jackson was still stealing carries and doing his best to ensure the continuance of the running back-by-committee situation in Buffalo.
Regardless, Spiller gave patient owners a solid season, finishing with the 7th most fantasy points among running backs. While a top-10 fantasy season is impressive enough, Spiller produced this season with the 22nd most carries among NFL backs (behind Vick Ballard, Mikel Leshoure, Michael Turner, and Shonn Greene). He is the model of efficiency and a true embodiment of doing more with a limited amount of work. He totaled 1,703 all-purpose yards and scored 8 touchdowns, while averaging a sexy 6.81 yards per touch.
It’s pretty easy to see why you should be excited about C.J. Spiller in 2013. He looks to continue to get the majority of work in Buffalo, even if Fred Jackson gets healthy. Similar to Jamaal Charles, Spiller is a PPR maniac and a great RB1 in standard formats. The continued development of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Buffalo’s receivers will only help the young Spiller.
Skeptical gamers will ask, “Well, what if Fred Jackson does come back? Doesn’t that hurt Spiller’s value?” While Jackson’s presence does technically limit what Spiller can do, this season showed us that any limitations will be minor and Jackson’s presence really won’t matter. Spiller will do more with 200 carries than some running backs will do with 300.
At C.J.’s current ADP, he’s being drafted 6th overall. If he moves at all, it will only be higher. I have no qualms drafting this stud at any point in the first round. As J.J. Zachariason said in the Early Birds Fanatics Mock Draft, “Does anybody have more upside than Spiller this year?” I think not. I can’t wait to draft Spiller and I’m targeting him in all of my drafts. Invest, invest, invest.
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
In an offense that was barely functional, Trent Richardson gave fantasy footballers (and Browns fans) something to believe in. Like many of his fellow rookies, Richardson immediately took over a starting role. While Richardson seemed to lack the explosiveness of Alfred Morris and the pile driving power of Doug Martin, he still gave owners a respectable season.
Richardson finished the 2012 season with the 10th most fantasy points among running backs. He ran for 950 yards on 267 carries and scored 12 times. He also caught 51 passes for 367 yards. All things considered, Richardson was a useful fantasy back, as most owners played him as their RB2.
The problem with Richardson’s rookie campaign was his efficiency. He tied Michael Turner for the lowest YPC out of the top-25 fantasy running backs with a measly 3.6 average. But sure, despite his poor efficiency, the fact remains that Richardson finished the season as the 10th best fantasy back.
The Browns back received enough carries to make him productive, but he also found the end zone 12 times. Just over 38% of his fantasy points came from touchdowns. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does become detrimental when a player’s fantasy production relies too heavily on touchdowns. For example, if Richardson only scored six touchdowns, he would drop from the 10th best fantasy back to the 16th best running back. I understand that this isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it’s something that needs to be recognized.
I expressed my sentiments about Richardson on Twitter and got into some great conversation that provided more context to Richardson’s poor efficiency. It also showed that there are just as many people who think Richardson will do well in 2013 as there are who think he could be overvalued.
Richardson dealt with rib injuries for most of 2012 and this caused him to be hesitant while making cuts out of the backfield. While it’s good to keep that in mind, it’s a matter of perspective whether or not he will produce at an RB1 level at perfect health. It’s hard to predict how he will produce at 100%, although he ran much better before he sustained rib injuries than he did after. This still doesn’t change the fact that there’s risk associated with Richardson, and that risk is accentuated with his high ADP.
In regards to 2013, I’m not very excited about Richardson. For me, the 3.6 YPC is just too low for a player that I would be drafting in the first round. His current ADP on myfantasyleague.com is 4th overall and it’s 8th overall on fantasyfootballcalculator.com. That’s a little too expensive for me. However, that ADP could be a little more accurate for PPR formats. Richardson had the 7th most receptions among running backs and he looks to continue to be involved in all aspects of Cleveland’s offensive attack.
He’s clearly the Browns best offensive option and they will use him a ton, and I could actually see his carries and touches increasing in 2013. But it is hard to predict how many touchdowns Richardson will score, and because of that, I’m less excited about him in the first round.
I’m not saying that Richardson will be a bust in 2013, but at this point, he is too expensive for me. If his ADP drops, I might begin to consider him as a high-end RB2 for my fantasy squads, but I don’t think his ADP will drop far enough. I’m not looking at Richardson unless he is available in the early second round.
Be careful, gamers. I don’t think Richardson will be a suitable RB1 in 2013 and, unfortunately, that’s where his ADP is right now.