Making sense out of KC's backfield mess

      July 18, 2012 @ 15:15:44 PDT


The Kansas City Chiefs' backfield is a Dexter McCluster away from giving me a headache. The shifty running back/wide receiver/special teamer/running back/wide receiver/short Al Harris is reportedly going to be used more in the backfield than we had expected.

McCluster was supposed to play a slot receiver role, which is probably where he is best utilized. This latest move makes me question just how healthy Jamaal Charles (knee) really is. I'm scared of him, to be frank. I couldn't draft him anywhere near his 15th overall average draft position.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
JC needs a prayer to be 100 percent healthy in 2012

That is an insane risk, not only because of the injury but also the addition of Peyton Hillis. I don't know exactly why people are grossly overvaluing Charles. Maybe these drafters are not aware of the magnitude of his injury, or maybe they don't care. Perhaps they aren't conscious of Hillis' expected role, or maybe they don't care.

The bruising Hillis is also a great receiver out of the backfield, and he is reunited with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, whose system led to rusher having a magical 2009 season in Cleveland.

I am more worried about Matt Cassel's ineptitude screwing up Hillis' season than Charles cutting into his workload. It will probably be close to a 55-40-5 split (Hillis-Charles-McCluster) until midway through the season, presuming Charles comes around. As Charles' explosiveness returns, however, that Hillis-heavy share will dissipate to become more JC.

For as sad as it may be, Hillis is the safest option of this group. He feels welcome in KC and with Daboll. He is motivated. Fantasy football owners looking for savvy value should ignore what happened in Cleveland last year and land Hillis at his near steal price of the ninth round. Kevin Smith, Ronnie Hillman, Toby Gerhart, Michael Bush, to name a few, go ahead of Hillis. PPR players should bump him up a hair.

To recap, we have a healthy Hillis, who is a favorite of the play-caller, a poor man's Charles in McCluster, and a busted elite fantasy back all vying for touches in the same backfield? Yuck. I don't think KC's defense will be good enough to provide the offense enough rushing attempts to make this trio happy. Even if you remove McCluster from the equation, Charles is still a huge risk - an investment I am unwilling to make at his current price.

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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