After four weeks of the Fantasy Football season we are starting to see some trends. We now know which defenses you are licking your chops to face and which defenses can force you to alter your starting lineup, and that the tight end position is loaded with high-end Fantasy producers in comparison to past seasons. Quarterbacks, while being a deep position as expected, are not really putting up the huge numbers we have come to expect from the league’s premier position and a disturbingly high number of elite first round running backs are disappointing owners and ruining Fantasy seasons. This week on Point/Counterpoint, Brandon C. Williams (@bcwilliams71) and Chris Mitchell (@cjmitch73) debate whether Jamaal Charles or Peyton Manning is on the way to being your 2013 Fantasy Football MVP.
Point – Brandon C. Williams
Anyone familiar with Andy Reid’s track record knew that the only barrier keeping Jamaal Charles from becoming a Fantasy football beast was his ability to stay on the field. After all, in Reid’s 14 seasons as head coach of the Eagles, only twice did a Philadelphia running back not catch at least 40 passes, and in 2003, Brian Westbrook (37 receptions) and Duce Staley (36) fell just short.
Sure, Reid had the likes of Staley, Westbrook and LeSean McCoy in his backfield, but never did he have the type of back who could combine blistering speed and sound receiving skills like Charles. Through the first month of this season, Reid has married those attributes, which have allowed Charles’ owners to live happily ever after with his production.
In a season that has been dominated by a devastatingly impressive rise in production at quarterback and lowlighted by an equally stunning fall from grace at the running back position, Charles’ numbers are worthy of Fantasy MVP mention.
Entering Week 5, only Saints TE Jimmy Graham (81.80) and Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (79.30) have more points than Charles’ 74.20 among non-quarterbacks. Among running backs, only Philadelphia’s McCoy (72.80) is even in the ballpark compared to AP and Charles, who has emerged as the best all-purpose RB in Fantasy.
Charles has four touchdowns, yet has put together at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each game and has yet to fumble in 93 touches from scrimmage. Charles is more lethal in PPR formats, where he has averaged almost nine targets per game from QB Alex Smith; his 65.7 percent mark (23 receptions) demonstrates his dependability as a receiver.
Here’s the thing that makes Charles even scarier to contend with as the season goes on; at 4.1 yards per carry, it is obvious Charles has yet to play his best game. Having averaged 5.6 yards per tote in his career, he’s the reliable must-start who is like a volcano that can go from a mild belch to straight-up Pompeii on an opponent in no time, which can’t make the Titans feel comfortable heading into Sunday.
Charles is also on pace to hit exactly 2,000 yards from scrimmage, which exceeds his projected 1,902 yards. Again, those are current pace numbers, stats which do not take into account that Charles has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game or that he is on pace for 140 targets.
Another reason why I’m proudly wearing my “Vote for Jamaal” badge like Tracy Flick in “Election” – look at the wasteland of running backs that were drafted in the Top 20. To wit:
*Arian Foster, Texans: 53.0 Fantasy points
*Alfred Morris, Redskins: 41.80 FP
*Doug Martin, Buccaneers: 41.70 FP
*Trent Richardson, Browns/Colts: 37.70 FP
(Yes, I know…oh, the humanity!)
*Chris Johnson, Titans: 28.90 FP
*C.J. Spiller, Bills: 23.90 FP
Kids, I’m here to tell you – contrary to Henry Ford’s beliefs, history isn’t bunk, especially when it comes to doing your Fantasy homework. Those who did and selected Charles — along with a quality QB — are probably feeling good about their team today. For those who didn’t? Well, if you have one of the Dingy Half-Dozen mentioned above, you’re probably feeling like your season is about to be like our government.
Counterpoint – Chris Mitchell
I will be making the case for Peyton Manning as your 2013 Fantasy MVP this week but I do have to say that Jamaal Charles is an intriguing choice. What we know is that passing is officially king in the NFL. We also know that running backs who play a major role in the passing game (Jamaal Charles/Reggie Bush/Matt Forte/Lesean Mccoy/Demarco Murray/Darren Sproles/Danny Woodhead) are having very strong seasons, while RBs who rely more heavily on running the ball (Ray Rice/Frank Gore/Doug Martin/Alfred Morris) are finding it tough sledding. This makes Brandon’s case for Jamaal Charles a much easier one than mine, but the key point here that you can’t forget, passing is king.
Peyton Manning leads most Fantasy Leagues in overall scoring and he is only in the second year of this offense with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. He’s had only eight games over two seasons with Julius Thomas, who is emerging as one of the elite pass catching weapons at the tight end position, and only four games with Wes Welker, who might be the best possession, chain-moving wideout in the NFL. With every play they run on every drive, and every week of practice, the chemistry and communication gets better.
Through four weeks, Manning has passed for 1470 yards with 16 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions, and this is an offense that is still figuring it out. Manning is on pace for 5880 yards passing with 64 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. Going forward, Manning will face only one elite defense, and that is Kansas City (twice) Nov 17th and Dec 1st. Manning faces four good, though not elite, defenses – @New England (Vince Wilfork done for the season), vs. Tennessee, @Indy and @Houston. He has a good chance of avoiding any difficult playing conditions in all four, which has been something that Peyton has struggled with in the past outside of the cushy confines of the Indianapolis dome.
Manning will have six games against miserably bad, stat-padding beast mode teams – @Dallas, vs. Jacksonville, vs. Washington, San Diego (twice) and in the black hole of Oakland in Week 17, where he could have a 350 yard, four TD outing while only playing half the game. The schedule through four weeks hasn’t exactly been against the Steel Curtain or the ‘85 Bears, but it only gets easier while Peyton and company continue to play even better.
Jamaal Charles does it both in the run game and the passing game. He can run between the tackles for first downs or bust it all the way to the house for six in one single play. He is dangerous whenever he gets his hands on the ball, and he touches it a lot. However, everything is falling perfectly into place for Peyton Manning to have one of the best Fantasy seasons owners have ever seen. Can Manning keep up this pace? Maybe that’s a Herculean task that nobody can achieve, but you only need to get in the neighborhood to have a historic year and that means Fantasy MVP.
Thanks Brandon, for taking a run (with Jamaal Charles of all people, har har) at winning your first head to head debate against me this week, but once again with all humility I have to admit… I won again. My New England Patriots went 16-0, and after four weeks I am starting to smell the potential. Good luck next week Mr. Washington Generals.