When Andy Reid took over the Chiefs in 2013 many people knew Jamaal Charles would be an effective weapon for him. Seeing what Reid did for Brian Westbrook and Shady McCoy it seemed like a match made in heaven. Nobody knew just how good it would get. Charles enjoyed unprecedented success and was one of the biggest reasons the Chiefs were the final undefeated team this season. But it’s more than just a coach and a scheme that helped Charles to be both fantasy dominant and consistent. Here we’ll look at all the factors (aside from Reid) that helped Charles and determine if he has a chance to repeat or top his 2013 season.
A bit of unrelated nonsense here but we’re going to see the number 7 keep cropping up in some of the things that had a say in how effective Charles was. Does it mean anything? Maybe, maybe not. But I’m not one to leave anything out.
Brandon Albert – The first significant 7 he is Albert’s jersey number (76) Remember in the offseason when Eric Fisher was drafted and the Chiefs were trying to move Albert for anything they could get? Sure seems like they (somewhat) don’t regret doing that now. I say somewhat because Albert is now a free agent and is going to get seriously paid this offseason, if not by KC then by someone else. Fisher struggled mightily for Kansas City and Albert held his own and remains one of the more intriguing free agents in the 2014 offseason. On an offensive line that didn’t even crack Pro Football Focus’ top half of the league, losing a key piece like Albert could mean that Charles is getting hit in the backfield just a little bit more next season.
Alex Smith – I bet you’re wondering what the 7 is in this category. 7 here is the number of interceptions thrown all season by Smith. Call him conservative, or a game manager, or a checkdown artist or whatever you’d like. Those seven turnovers are why Charles was successful. Offensive drives were sustained because Alex Smith doesn’t get careless with the ball. That means more time on the field for Charles to do his thing.
Chiefs Defense – No real 7 here. Maybe the front seven, which is the area of the D that needs a little work. After all, a running game is only effective when the score of a game allows a team to run the ball. And Kansas City does boast a rather impressive defense. Dontari Poe is a beast in the middle and Justing Houston and Tamba Hali patrolling the hashmarks means that teams aren’t going to be breaking down this unit over time. Having a healthy Eric Berry, a still underrated Brandon Flowers, and Sean Smith in the defensive backfield means that teams can’t air it out when the ground game fails to impress. Mike DeVito and Tyson Jackson are stop-gap level solutions at defensive end and could have some depth added behind them by a potential mid-round rookie selection who in that unit has all the chances to have a breakout season.
Receiving Proficiency – Saving the best for last here. The signigicant 7 here happens to be the number of receiving TDs Charles had in 2013. That’s the number of receiving touchdowns Jamaal Charles had in 2013. Out of all the gaudy numbers in his statline I believe that number in particular will be the hardest to duplicate. Sure Alex Smith does a fair share of checkdowns but Charles blowing those plays open time after time isn’t something I expect to repeat to such amazing results. It’s not something that definitely won’t repeat but I would be genuinely shocked if it did.
So there is everything that allowed Jamaal Charles to redefine productivity in 2013. I see a similar season coming from him in 2014 if the Chiefs retain Albert, or grab a suitable replacement in free agency if they do intend to move Fisher over. I think they should keep their two bookends and add a guard via the draft and grab a defensive end as well. Knile Davis will be a must own handcuff for Charles owners in 2014 as he touched the ball an insane amount this year. Some may make the case for Shady McCoy being the first RB off the board because you knowwhat you will get with him but I make the following argument for Charles. His floor is higher. His ceiling is higher. He is more consistent. And he outscored McCoy this year and there is no sign that he won’t next year, while a revamped and clear passing attack in Philly could lead to McCoy not having to be used as much. Charles is your number one RB for next year. He is your number one guy off the board. He is your Fantasy Force.
p.s. I would like some credit for not making any terrible Charles in Charge puns. Thank you.