KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Death, taxes and Jamaal Charles touchdowns. History is a crafty bugger, and History has already made up her mind: She’s taking No. 25 first in her fantasy football draft this summer.
You’re a curious sort, so you ask her why. And History just smiles, pulls out her replica Kansas City Chiefs jersey and offers up this:
Brian Westbrook, Year 1 as Andy Reid’s primary tailback (2003): 154 touches, 945 total yards, 11 rushing and receiving touchdowns
Brian Westbrook, Year 2 as Andy Reid’s primary tailback (2004): 250 touches, 1,515 total yards, nine rushing and receiving touchdowns
"Touches?" she says. "Up 96. Yards? Up 570. Touchdowns? Down two."
LeSean McCoy, Year 1 as Andy Reid’s primary tailback (2010): 285 touches, 1,672 total yards, nine rushing and receiving touchdowns
"He’s very consistent; he’s a pro," quarterback Alex Smith said this week when asked about Charles at OTAs. "You don’t play at the level he does not doing those little things. And he does the little things, day in and day out, competes every day. So he’s fun to have in the huddle, and obviously, a very unique talent."
Smith gets a bad rap for being a checkdown king, a rag arm, especially in a contract year, when numbers can be cajoled, twisted and massaged to match the argument at hand. Charles is 27, in the prime of his tailback life, and simultaneously the best and worst thing for the Chiefs’ quarterbacks, statistically.
The smart play in Reid’s offense is to put the ball in 25’s hands, give him a lane and watch him work. But because it’s a safe play, too, Smith and Chase Daniel get accused of taking the easy out.
To put it another way: If your primary downfield options are Dwayne Bowe and Anthony Fasano and your primary hot read is Charles in the flat, which one would you trust to hang on to the ball and make something happen with a first down on the line?
Death, taxes and Jamaal Charles touchdowns.
Last month, a fan went to Twitter — handle: @mustwinfantasy, we can’t make this kind of stuff up — to present a montage of four pics: One with a thank-you note he sent to Charles for helping his wife win her fantasy football season; one of a championship belt; one of a championship ring; and one with (presumably) his aforementioned wife beaming, holding a signed Charles jersey:
Which is kind of funny, in hindsight, given that some Chiefs fans wondered a year ago how West-Coast-offense, pass-happy Reid would adapt to the run-first, grind-it-out stars left by the previous regime, how a surf king would handle an offense built for the turf end of the equation.
And the answer was easy, of course: Instead of using Charles like Jerome Bettis, you use him like Roger Craig. Fewer traps and draws, more screens and dumps. Five yards is five yards; the only major difference, when you get right down to it, is the delivery.
"I think the guy can do everything," Smith said. "Never comes off the field."
In other words, Good Lord willing, expect more of the same. Much, much, much more.
"I don’t see why not," Smith said.
Keep those thank-you notes coming, folks.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.