Jamaal Charles, the Kansas City Chiefs' star running back who was poised for a breakout season has torn his ACL and is out for the season.
From a regular football standpoint, this is almost a deathblow to an already horrific season for Kansas City. After two games, KC is 0-2 and have been outscored 89-10 in losses to the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills. They have looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL and could be vying for the coveted Andrew Luck sweepstakes (which right now looks like a race to the bottom of the NFL standings between the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs).
And now, with Jamaal Charles out for the season, it's adding insult to injury. If the Chiefs were getting destroyed with Charles IN the lineup, it's scary to think of what will happen with him out of the lineup. I know it's easy to overreact this early in the season, but it's not far-fetched to think that the Chiefs could be a team that wins one or two games this season.
Which brings us to the fantasy side of football. Charles was a top 5 pick, and a consensus pick to be one of the leading fantasy scorers in the 2011 season.
Most fantasy football owners who drafted him had to take him so early that they don't have a viable backup at running back. Which almost kills their chances of taking any fantasy crowns this season.
How can you recover from losing your first round pick?
Last season there were two ways: picking up Michael Vick or Peyton Hillis. Looking back on most league champions last year there was one common thread among them in that they were lucky (or smart) enough to pick up either one or both of those players.
Charles owners will be asking themselves the question: Who are this year's Vick and Hillis?
A few of the candidates are:
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: The rookie looks like a seasoned veteran havin thrown for close to 900 yards in his first two games. Sure, one was against a suspect Cardinals defense, but the other was against the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers D. Nothing to sneeze at (sure he also had three picks that probably cost his team the win, but the thing about fantasy is that real-life wins and losses have no affect on ours.) He probably was picked up in your league last week, but he may be worth a look this week now that's he's proven that the first week wasn't a complete fluke.
Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: There were whispers of the Broncos wide receiver being a deep fantasy sleeper before the season, and he proved that to be true with a big 2 TD game against the Bengals on Sunday. Pick him up if he's available in your league. He probably won't put up these numbers every week, but at least he's proven than he can perform when called upon (even if it is against the lowly Bengals.)
Dexter McCluster, WR, RB; Kansas City Chiefs: The guy most likely to see a big increase in touches with the loss of Charles. He's sort of a catch-all kind of player who lines up at wideout at times, as well as running back and kick returner. Stash him in your league right away. He's a slasher who could put up big numbers this year. The only problem is that the Chiefs are going to be losing a lot of games, so their running situation should be mediocre at best. I had him last year and he showed flashes of greatness. Now with more playing time and another year under his belt, he may be the breakout candidate everyone is looking for from a waiver wire pickup.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans: I'm all in on Ben Tate. If there's one thing sports fans know about hamstring injuries, it's that they linger more than that Cranberries song. And Arian Foster could be in big trouble. The consensus first round pick when healthy, is now a week-to-week concern and after getting pulled this week proved that he can't be counted on. Even if he plays next week are you going to feel comfortable slotting him in your starting lineup knowing that he could tweak his fragile hammy once again? Get Tate if he's available. Ben won't catch as many balls as Arian (if you're in a PPR he won't be as valuable) but he's still a great guy to have on your bench.
Mike Kafka, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: This one is a long-shot, but what the heck. Peyton Hillis was a long-shot last year, too. With Michael Vick out of for an unknown amount of time and Vincy Young nursing a hamstring (and you know how we feel about hamstring injuries), Mike Kafka could take the helm for a while and become the quarterback for one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. He is definitely worth a flyer, so drop your extra kicker, defense or pine-riding scrub and take a chance on Kafka. It really can't hurt.