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2012 Fantasy Football Debate: Jamaal Charles vs. Peyton Hillis

The fantasy football season is almost upon us, and like every year, there are several topics that can get heated in some fantasy circles.  Even here at Rant Sports, writers have disagreements, and we thought with the looming elections, this would be the perfect time to host our own fantasy football debates.  Below is our second 2012 fantasy football debate between the two very popular fantasy picks in 2012, Jamaal Charles vs. Peyton Hillis:

Candidate Mark Stringer – Jamaal Charles

All I have heard this off-season is how, Kansas City Chiefs’ running back, Jamaal Charles, will lose fantasy value this year, because he is coming off a knee injury and now has running back, Peyton Hillis, stealing carries away from him.

However, does anyone remember when  former Chiefs’ running back, Thomas Jones, was a big part of the offense in 2010?  Thomas received about 10-15 carries a game and most of all, he received all the goal line carries.

That same year, Charles distanced himself from Jones as the team’s number one back.  2010 was Charles’ best season as a pro; he was able to produce 1,467 yards rushing on 230 carries, 45 receptions for 468 yards, and 8 total touchdowns.  He played in all 16 games, and despite only being listed as the starter in 6 games,  Charles still did enough to earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

Charles seems to be much better when he doesn’t have to be the guy that carries the ball 25 times a game, so the off-season addition of Hillis, will only increase Charles’ fantasy value in the long run.

No doubt Hillis should have a strong impact for the Chiefs.  He will carry the ball nearly as much as Charles and will receive all the goal line touches.  However, the Chiefs still run an offense where they are going to run as often as they throw and personally I don’t see Hillis doing as much as Charles with those carries.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see them both gain over 1,000 yards of total offense, considering they can both catch out of the back field.  However, when the year is done, look for Charles to score as often as Hillis, receive more receptions, and out-gain Hillis by around 400-500 yards of total offense.

Hillis will benefit Charles more by being in a Chiefs’ uniform, than he would in another uniform.  History can repeat itself and if Charles is 100% healthy, than I would expect numbers similar to 2010.


Candidate Dan Flaherty – Peyton Hillis 

The Kansas City Chiefs are going to score touchdowns on the ground.  Whether you’re a believer or a doubter about a team of which there’s a wide variety of opinion, I think that’s a safe statement.  The Kansas City offense is built on running the ball.  They went out and added free-agent right tackle, Eric Winston, during the off-season.  Given that Winston isn’t responsible for the blind side in pass protection, I think it’s a pretty fair guess the team acquired Winston so they could run the rock behind him.

Furthermore, even supporters of starting quarterback Matt Cassel aren’t going to confuse him with New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packersanytime soon.  The Chiefs are not going to line up on 2nd-and-2 and be thinking about where they can throw the ball.  They’re going to run it, and that further applies to the goal-line situations that define Fantasy League success.

Therefore, it makes tremendous sense to get a Chiefs’ running back in your Fantasy League draft.  The question people might wonder would whether to go with Peyton Hillis or Jamaal Charles, and in the confusion, may opt away from either one.  That would be a mistake.  For Fantasy purposes, Hillis is the back you want.

The phrase “for Fantasy purposes” mean everything here.  There’s no question that Charles is the better running back and he’ll get more carries. However, he’s not as physically powerful as Hillis for goal-line situations, not to mention that Charles is coming off an ACL injury that sidelined him almost all of 2011.  Coming off such a gruesome injury, many will have to question if Charles will have the breakaway speed to get the longer touchdown runs, even those from 15-20 yards out.

Let’s remember, in Charles’ big year of 2010, when he produced nearly 1,200 yards on the ground for an AFC West champion, he still only found the end zone five times.  Contrast that with Hillis that same year.  Hillis scored 11 times for a Cleveland Browns’ team whose offensive line was so bad, that the skill position talent should have filed a lawsuit for violation of worker safety regulations.

It’s not that I don’t like Charles, or that I think Hillis is extraordinary.  To the contrary, I think the former is talented back between the tackles, the kind you can establish an offense around him, whereas the contract the Chiefs’ gave Hillis seemed excessive for a short-yardage back.  However, short-yardage backs in rushing offenses simply score touchdowns.  The salary cap implications of Hillis’ contract matter not one bit to Fantasy owners.  The fact he’s going to cross the goaline frequently does.

Follow me on Twitter @DanFlaherty

Who do you think won this debate? Leave a comment in the section below. 

Also make sure to check back over the next week for more Rant Sports Fantasy Football Debates.