The Kansas City Chiefs were rolling right along with the Spencer Ware wagon over the first three weeks of the 2016 NFL season, but it seems that there may be some type of a shift in power coming. Even with Ware being pretty excellent over the first three games, the original starter, but often-injured Jamaal Charles is back, and he’s ready to get to work. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Chiefs starting running back will make his 2016 debut on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The question is, what does this all mean? Should fantasy football owners go ahead and just call it on their fun ride with Ware? Will Charles immediately return to dominance? The answer to both of those question is simply, no. Ware is going to have his role still, and honestly, in Week 4 against the Steelers, it’s likely that he’ll be the featured back still, as the Chiefs will more than likely want to ease Charles back into the mix. As for Charles, his return to dominance could happen, but this is a guy who has torn two ACLs since 2011 and is now just months away from turning the dreaded age of 30.
While we all know what that age means for running backs in most cases, there may wind up being a shift fully to Ware as the starter, and Charles’ time in Kansas City altogether may be limited. Aside from his torn ACLs, Charles has a laundry list of injuries he’s dealt with during his NFL career, as you can see on Sports Injury Predictor.
Since 2011, here are a few things the Chiefs RB dealt with:
- 2011- Torn ACL
- 2012- Sprained ACL
- 2013- Head injury
- 2014- High ankle sprain
- 2015- Torn ACL
There’s obviously been more, but the fact that Charles’ body has taken a relatively brutal beating during his NFL career, is a sign that a heavy workload may be something that Andy Reid and company will want to avoid. In turn, why not utilize the 24-year-old running back who the Chiefs have seen essentially dominate through three games?
While the Chiefs have played from behind in two of the three games, he’s still totaled 202 rushing yards (4.9 yards per carry), 10 receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown. Ware has done everything asked of him and more, which is why he’ll likely continue to receive extended work on Sunday Night Football against the Steelers.
Even if Charles has one more strong season left in him, the Chiefs would probably be better off trying to minimize his touches to keep him healthy for the home stretch of the season, and possibly a playoff run as well. If the Chiefs didn’t have a player like Ware (as well as Charcandrick West, for that matter), then getting Charles back into a heavy workload sooner than later would make sense. In this instance, though, it’s better to play it safe and ride your hot hand.