The fantasy football projections are beginning to roll in the closer that we get to football season and it's obvious that Jamaal Charles is going to be one of the top players to come off of the board in drafts from now until the beginning of the football season. Running backs are already the first guys to hear their name called, and Charles became an elite back last year with a ridiculous 6.4 yards per carry average.
Being paired with Thomas Jones last season didn't make many fantasy owners happy, who argued that Charles could potentially be a fantasy football MVP if he was given more carries. Haley has already said that Charles would receive more this year, so that should make projections already jump. That's also what ESPN's predictions putting Charles as high as the No. 4 overall player:
Unearthing fantasy studs-to-be like Charles is the best part of our job. And J-Mail was particularly rewarding in '10, rushing for 1,467 yards at an insane clip of 6.4 yards per carry and scoring double-digit fantasy points in 12 of 16 games. Now comes the hard part: Gauging the likelihood of a follow-up. Charles is a home run hitter of the highest order. He's also likely to get cannibalized less by Thomas Jones, who took six scores away from Charles last season but is aging rapidly.
Still, we're not sold that Todd Haley wants to use Charles 20-plus times per game. The Chiefs will be most comfortable if they keep him under 300 total touches, because he's a relatively little guy at 5-foot-11, 199 pounds. Expect some monster efforts. Just don't expect him to be fantasy's MVP for '11.
There's way to tell just how well Charles will live up to such expectations in 2011, but it is a bit weird to see him ranked lower than Chris Johnson, who certainly fell well below most owners' hopes for him last year and who will continue to suffer from too much attention up front given the Titans lack of offense and the trouble of Kenny Britt. The same can be said for Adrian Peterson and the Vikings who are apparently going with Christian Ponder at quarterback. Charles will have the benefit of playing with a dynamic offense around him -- one that should have him racking up fantasy points more than the guys listed above him.