Fantasy Football Mailbag: Thursday 9/1/16

Let's all feel better about the Jamaal Charles situation while figuring out if Martellus Bennett is worth keeping on the roster.

Fantasy football research never stops, and offseason news can really complicate things, especially when coaches talk up second- and third-string players. That's where our fantasy football mailbag comes into play.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

Well, that's not really a question, so I'll ask my own: What if that thing Adam said?

It's really not hard to get excited about Jamaal Charles from an advanced analytics standpoint. According to our Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Charles has added 115.66 points over expectation on his 1,323 career carries. Only two other players have added more than 72.0 since 2000: Ladainian Tomlinson (87.04) and Priest Holmes (150.28). Among 124 backs with at least 500 carries since 2000, only Holmes (0.10), Charles (0.09), and Pierre Thomas (0.09) have a per-carry average greater than 0.06. Charles even ranks sixth in Rushing Success Rate, the percentage of carries that added positively to NEP, so he isn't just a big-play guy.

The issue here is that it's sounding like Charles, who is recovering from an ACL tear last year, won't play much in Week 1 and could be eased into things during the early part of the season. In fact, ESPN's Adam Teicher, a Kansas City Chiefs beat writer, said that Charles "certainly won't be the starter" and that "if he plays, it won't be a lot" in the Chiefs' opening game.


Now, I really don't mean to be dismissive here, but we need to keep in mind that head coach Andy Reid isn't the one who came out and said this. Per Teicher himself, Reid has said that Charles has done more and more every day. Charles feels like he is "full go," too.

So here's what we know: Jamaal Charles is amazing, he hasn't played yet in the preseason, and he isn't taking the bulk of the first-team reps.

Per Fantasy Football Calculator, Charles is still costing a mid second-round pick in 12-team PPR leagues. I'm going to say that it's a fine spot for him, but that's about the highest you should be willing to go. In the past six seasons, Charles has played more than six games four times. He has never finished worse than the RB8 in PPR scoring. You're going to have to spend to get one of the best fantasy running backs of all time, and who knows? By Week 3, we might have forgotten all about this scare. That's just how good Charles has been in his career.

After a "slow start" in 2012, Charles wound up with 1,745 scrimmage yards and finished as the RB8.

Yes, you should be concerned despite what we just discussed if those are your only two running backs. If they're just your two starters, you're fine. As much as Adrian Peterson might be overhyped, he's still Adrian Peterson. Losing Teddy Bridgewater won't derail his value entirely, especially if he's already on your roster -- there's nothing you can do at this point.

Backup Jerick McKinnon really has the tools to steal Peterson's third-down work and is the more sensible option if the Minnesota Vikings are trailing, but Peterson is a fine starter, especially if paired with Charles and especially in a standard-scoring league.

Of course, like I said already, if those really are your only two running backs, then you'll need to bolster that depth chart, but I'd be happy with that duo in my starting lineup to kick off 2016 even with all of the concerns surrounding them. They're two potential top-10 fantasy backs, and that's not easy to find, Curt.

Without even digging into this one much, my answer is going to be Devin Funchess. In a 10-team league -- provided the rosters are pretty standard -- you don't need a second tight end on your roster, especially if you have two viable options. And to decide which to keep, just know that Zach Ertz is our TE10 in PPR setups, and we rank Martellus Bennett way down at 19th.

Further, Funchess was good in the red zone last season, scoring 5 times on 5 catches (11 targets), a place where Kelvin Benjamin underwhelmed in 2014, so don't be too concerned about Benjamin, who was an average receiver in 2014 from an analytics standpoint.

In an alternate reality, you could consider trading Ertz if you're buying into the hype that Bennett is really a key player for the New England Patriots and that he's got a big role in store.

To put it straight, Scott, I'd see if I could swap either Ertz or Bennett for something useful and if not, drop Bennett for Funchess.

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