Jamaal Charles and a Fantasy Playoff Performance for the Ages

Where does his 215-yard, five-touchdown performance rank in fantasy history?

Outside of the rare exception that one of my fantasy players is playing against them, there have been very few reasons for me to watch the Oakland Raiders over the course of the last decade.

My memory as a neutral observer of the Raiders is based purely on milestones and achievements that individual players have achieved at their expense. These events are hard to forget and stick with you for a long, long time. Most of this has to do with LaDananian Tomlinson, the Raider Killer, himself, and his sheer dominance over the Black and Silver.

However, he's not alone. There are countless instances of players routinely amassing impressive fantasy stats against Oakland, including Nick Foles' seven-touchdown performance in Week 9.

And this past Sunday was yet another installment in Raider glory, or, depending on your perspective, Raider infamy.

While You Were Gone

In case you somehow missed it, Jamaal Charles racked up 195 yards and four touchdowns receiving on Sunday. If that wasn’t enough, he rumbled for an extra rushing touchdown for good measure.

How many times has a player caught four touchdowns and ran for an additional one? Well, it had never happened in a single game looking at NFL statistics from 1960-2013. In fact, there have been just 33 instances of a player finishing with four or more receiving touchdowns in a single game, let alone tacking on another rushing one. (If you're wondering, the record is five set by both Kellen Winslow Sr. and, of course, Jerry Rice)

And even when we reduce the criteria to "just" one rushing touchdown and three receiving touchdowns, only four players outside Charles have accomplished the feat. That's how historic this game was from a raw statistics perspective for the Kansas City runner.

Recent Fantasy History

Recent examples of fantasy football dominance of this magnitude (50-plus standard, non-decimal points) are rare to find. Most fantasy aficionados can rattle off the fact that Doug Martin put up a matching 51 points just last year, but he and Jamaal Charles are in rarefied air. Take a look at the list of the qualifying running backs below - only five have accomplished this kind of fantasy explosion with more than 50 points in the past 20 years.

PlayerYearTeamWeekPointsRushing YardsReceiving YardsTotal Touchdowns
Jamaal Charles2013KC1551201955
Doug Martin2012TB951251214
Clinton Portis2003DEN1454218365
Shaun Alexander2002SEA452139925
Corey Dillion1997CIN1551246304

Not only did Charles accumulate mind-blowing numbers in the box score, but he did so without touching the ball in the last 18 minutes of the game. Of all five touchdown passes Alex Smith threw, the total distance traveled downfield was 13 yards. Charles compiled the majority of his yards Sunday after the catch (YAC), and made it look like child's play. He was rarely touched as he galloped one touchdown in after another.

The sheer lack of touches needed to accomplish this feat is also impressive on its own. Charles touched the ball just 16 times (8 carries and 8 receptions), and was still able to post the monster numbers.

Playoff Impact

Plenty of running backs have big games from time to time. Weeks 14 through 16 however, are typically the most important to fantasy owners, and arguably the ones that build the image of a player that sticks with the fantasy community for years to come. Charles is leaving quite the impression this year, whether it be good for elated owners, or bad for devastated opponents. This impression of Charles will likely supersede your thoughts of his actual play this season, despite his play being incredibly impressive.

Charles became the first player in the last 50 years to score five touchdowns in either Week 15 or 16. He was essentially a golden ticket to the championship game for most owners. To provide some more context, there are only a few instances of a player scoring 45 or more fantasy points in a playoff week (14-16). The examples below are sorted by year starting with the most recent:

PlayerYearTeamWeekPointsRushing YardsReceiving YardsTotal Touchdowns
Jamaal Charles2013KC1551201955
Jerome Harrison2009CLE1547286123
Clinton Portis2003DEN1454218365
Mike Anderson2000DEN144925154
Corey Dillion1997CIN1551246304
Larry Brown1973WAS15491501054

Legacy: Fantasy vs. Reality

Bill Simmons of Grantland and NBA Countdown fame wrote a great article a few months back detailing a concept around fantasy football vs. reality with loads of examples centered around LaDananian Tomlinson and his fantasy legacy. To his point, as fantasy owners, we often remember a player based on how they’ve impacted our fantasy teams throughout the years with far less weight put toward their actual NFL legacy.

To further drive home this point, who remembers Jerome Harrison? A lot of fantasy players, I'm sure. But why? Probably because some were forced into starting him in Week 15 of 2009, and he, along with his 47 fantasy points, either sent you to the championship or sent your title hopes spiraling down the drain.

Does Jerome Harrison have a legacy? Maybe within your heart, but not on the NFL gridiron.

If Charles continues his torrid pace into Week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts (who by the way, rank 26th against the run according to our metrics), he will have firmly cemented himself into the pantheon of all-time fantasy playoff greats.

And if he doesn’t? Well, we will all remember his Week 15 in 2013 for many years to come.