We had a slight lull in major injuries for Week 4, but on Sunday, a big-name running back went down, much to the dismay of his fantasy owners (not to mention himself and his team!). When Jamaal Charles hit the Arrowhead Stadium turf Sunday afternoon after a non-contact knee injury, we all knew the inevitable: torn ACL.
The fact he wasn't hit before going down, the way his right leg buckled, the agony on his face while he was holding his knee. We've seen it before. Heck, he's seen it before. In 2011, Charles tore his left ACL in a similar fashion. With the odds against him (the odds of tearing your other ACL or re-tearing your ACL skyrocket after you've had one ACL reconstruction), history repeated on Sunday. From a fantasy perspective, what is the impact of Charles' injury on the Chiefs?
Charcandrick West, RB
In re-draft leagues, Charles can obviously be dropped. The next man up in Kansas City is Charcandrick West. In Week 5, he had one reception for five yards and seven carries for 31 yards. West (5-10, 205) is about the same size as Charles (5-11, 199) and presumably will try and fill some pretty big cleats. The Chiefs have said that Knile Davis also will have a role, although based on what we've seen thus far, West will be given the lead back role to start. He's a must-add in all formats and should be a RB2 moving forward. The Chiefs play Minnesota in Week 6.
Knile Davis, RB
Davis has filled in for Charles in the past when he's been injured, scoring seven total touchdowns in 2014. However, based on his usage in Weeks 3 and 4 (none), it seems West has surpassed him on the depth chart. Even after Charles went down in Week 5, Davis only had two carries (for two yards) compared to West's seven. Because the Chiefs will likely not use just West, Davis is worth a waiver wire pickup as well. Don't start him in Week 6 until we see how the Chiefs use their backs.
Travis Kelce, TE
Kelce owners shouldn't be worried that the injury to Charles will negatively affect their tight end. While Kelce did only have six targets in Week 5 and he did not see a huge impact once Charles was out, keep in mind the Chiefs could not get anything going on offense. Prior to Week 5, Charles was averaging five receptions a game. At least some of those receptions (and targets) will likely now be headed Kelce's way. Kelce has been a TE1 thus far and this shouldn't change moving forward.
Jeremy Maclin, WR
Maclin has averaged over seven receptions a game so far, and with Charles out, more targets should be headed his way. He's the only Chiefs wide receiver worth starting in most fantasy leagues, and he's going to see a boost in value. He's not skyrocketing to a WR1, but he's a solid WR2 that will provide decent production on a regular basis. He's had two 100-plus yard games and a touchdown so far, which is more than most expected from him in the preseason. The Chiefs are going to have to find a way to get their offense moving, and it's likely going to be through Maclin.
Alex Smith, QB
Smith has been known as a game manager, and the focal point of Kansas City's offense was Jamaal Charles. It was hard to recommend starting Smith in most fantasy leagues before the Charles injury, and now the KC QB's value drops even farther. Once Charles left the game, Smith seemed completely lost. He is going to have to work with the other running backs and pass catchers to find a new offensive plan. Until then, avoid Smith at all costs.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.