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First Down: Jamaal Charles is a man of his word

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

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Only a dummy would count out Charles this year. (USP)

Bold declarative statements are what Jamaal Charles does well.

Breaking off long gains is what he does best.

Similar to Adrian Peterson, many owners are unsure how to approach the JC of KC in drafts this season. The apprehension expressed over the rusher, coming off an ACL tear, an injury which Roary the Lion is solely responsible for, is expected and completely understandable. However, different from his divine counterpart, avoiding him in drafts is a mistake. He was cleared for take-off when Chiefs camp opened last week and has looked and felt every bit of his old self since. From the KC Star:

"I feel like I got my mojo back. I feel happy. I feel comfortable out there, and I'm ready to go. My legs feel fresh. It's been about a year. I feel good."

Like a mouthy WWE wrestler, Charles has delivered a string of boastful quotes this off-season, enough to outmatch even "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. A sampling:

"When I touch that field again, you're going to feel my pain." — ESPN, May 12

"When they let that cape off me, I'm ready to go. I'm ready to put my cleats back on and punish everybody in my way.' — KC Star, June 13

Obviously, Charles isn't lacking in the confidence department, but so far he's backed the smack. The Chiefs coaching staff has talked highly of his on-field performance, noting he's made nearly flawless cuts and ran with vintage explosiveness. All goes well in exhibition play, and it's a foregone conclusion the rusher will take on his customary 15-18 touch load when KC hosts Atlanta Week 1.

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For prospective buyers, Charles' physical condition isn't necessarily the primary deterrent. Many are worried incensed rhino, Peyton Hillis, will dominate short-yardage and goal-line carries. Though there's truth to that, Charles' home-run hitting style and versatility will lead him to renewed greatness. Keep in mind, his career 6.1 yards per carry average is the highest by a running back since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Way back in second on that list is Bo Jackson, who tallied a 5.4 clip over four captivating seasons with the Raiders from 1987-1990.

[Related: If the Dolphins cut Chad Johnson, he's going into porn]

While the majority of the league will again fire guns this season, the Chiefs plan to fight with fists. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who was instrumental in Reggie Bush's success with Miami last year, plans to follow a run-first, run-often blueprint. Last year's 52-to-48 run-pass split will widen. This year, the OC's goal is to have Charles and Hillis tote the rock roughly 500 times. Exactly how those carries will be divided is anyone's guess, but reading the tea leaves, it will likely be a 55-45 timeshare favoring the incumbent.

Sound familiar?

Two years ago, Charles was in an almost identical situation. That year, he shared the load with grinder Thomas Jones and, unlike most timeshare backs, was remarkably consistent. He finished No. 5 in per game average among RBs, amassing 1,935 total yards and eight touchdowns on 275 touches. Those who believe he can't return to that plateau of production are only kidding themselves. "Less is more" is Charles' M.O. KC's fabulous offensive line and his friendly schedule — the third-easiest among RBs per Fantasy Pros — are also pluses.

Unquestionably, Charles is worth the risk at his current Round 3 price point (32.3 Y! ADP, RB13), especially in PPR leagues. Healthy, supremely confident and in a favorable environment, he's poised to rebound to the RB1 level.

And that's no bull.

Fearless Forecast (16 games): 219 attempts, 1,292 rushing yards, 41 receptions, 356 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns

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