Kansas City Chiefs running back and consensus first-round fantasy pick Jamaal Charles left the practice field then was carted off, according to multiple reports this morning. While initial reports are that it is not serious, for those of us who play fantasy football, it's a reminder how quickly your fortunes can change and the need to be prepared.
That means if you take a stud in the first round, you need to spend a late round pick on their handcuff (or in the case of some backs, wait until preseason is over when you figure out who the primary backup is, then pluck them off the waiver wire).
Here's the problem. There is no clear handcuff to Charles right now and, quite honestly, there doesn't appear to be anyone on the roster with anything close to his kind of ability.
There are four possible candidates who would see an increase in workload should Charles miss extended time. Here is the breakdown:
Knile Davis. The former Razorback was drafted by the Chiefs in the third round and expected to be Charles' primary backup, but hasn't exactly lit the world on fire in training camp. He's had issues catching the ball, which is a no-no in Andy Reid's offense that likes to use its backs as pass catchers.
Shaun Draughn: Last year's top backup to Charles, Draughn (pronounced drone) is about as exciting as saying his name. Still, because of Davis's struggles and his experience (he also apparently picked up Reid's offense so quickly, he was coaching up the other backs earlier in camp) he would probably get first crack at the starting gig. And what have we learned kids? Opportunity is often the biggest key to fantasy football. Draughn is the guy you want to own if you draft Charles.
Cyrus Gray: I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about this cat, but apparently, this guy is a big fan. The Texas A&M product was drafted in the sixth round in 2012. He could be a super sleeper, so keep an eye on him in preseason.
Dexter McCluster: Although the general school of thought is that Reid's Chiefs would use McCluster primarily as a receiver, he was drafted as a running back and is lining up all over the place. Should Charles miss time at any point in the season, I would expect the Chiefs to find more ways to get the ball in McCluster's hands out of the backfield, even if that means non-traditional handoffs. In the past, he's been listed as a RB/WR on many fantasy sites, which gave you great flexibility if you needed to start him. This year, Yahoo, NFL and CBS fantasy sites list him only at WR. That could change.