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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fantasy football: Jamaal Charles replacement options

Speak with a Jamaal Charles owner and one of the first things he or she will say to you will have something to do with getting more opportunities.

The electric Chiefs running back rushed for 1,467 yards in 2010, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He caught 45 passes for 468 yards, giving him an incredible norm of 7.0 yards per touch. Even more ridiculous: Charles had a combined 1,935 rushing and receiving yards, despite getting 17.2 touches per game.

This season, Charles -- a consensus top-five overall choice in fantasy -- didn't make it past Week 2. Sunday, on his second carry of the game, he suffered what ESPN reported shortly after the game was a torn ACL in his left knee.

An MRI later Monday is expected to confirm the report, which would leave many owners scrambling to replace their top running back.

If you're looking to the waiver wire for help this week, there probably won't be much.

The best options, in fact, might be on Charles' team.

Backup Thomas Jones entered the weekend owned in 61.5 percent of the leagues on ESPN. Dexter McCluster, a second-round pick by Kansas City in 2010, was owned in only 7.0 percent of the ESPN formats.

Jones rushed for 896 yards and six touchdowns last season. It marked the first time in six seasons in which he didn't rush for at least 1,119 yards.

In 2008 and '09, Jones gained a combined 2,714 yards on the ground and scored 29 combined rushing and receiving TDs.

At 33, his best days are behind him, but he can still be a useful player in non-point-per-reception leagues.

In PPR leagues, McCluster is a better option than Jones, who had an average of 12 catches per year in 2009 and '10.

McCluster is way too small (5-foot-8, 170 pounds) to get 20-plus carries, but he is explosive (he had eight carries for 51 yards Sunday) and he can get a handful of catches per game (he has nine receptions thus far in 2011).

Neither player should be considered anything more than a fringe No. 3 running back in a 12-team league, but if you've lost Charles, you're probably desperate enough to give one a chance.

Two other long-shot options at running back are a pair of rookies -- the Colts' Delone Carter and the Redskins' Roy Helu.

Carter had 11 carries for 46 yards on Sunday against the Browns, and he has 18 rushing attempts in Indy's first two games -- compared to Joseph Addai's 22. Carter has yet to catch a pass, and Addai is obviously the better fantasy option, but the Copley High School product is the no-doubt-about-it No. 2 back in Indianapolis, ahead of 2009 first-round pick Donald Brown, who has zero carries in two games.

Helu, meanwhile, had 10 rushes for 74 yards and three receptions for 38 yards Sunday against the Cardinals. Tim Hightower is the featured back in Washington, as his 168 rushing yards in two games attest, but Helu can be productive in games in which the Redskins have the lead and long-time fantasy tormentor Mike Shanahan is able to spread the carries around.

Of the four options we've discussed here, McCluster is the best in PPR formats, followed by Jones, Helu and Carter.

In non-PPR leagues, Jones is the No. 1 option, followed by McCluster, Helu and Carter.

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