Fantasy 5: Jamaal Charles no lock to make Denver’s roster

The veteran running back still has name value, but Jeff Ratcliffe cautions against counting on him to be any kind of contributor in Denver this year.

| 1 week ago
Free Agent RB Jamaal Charles

(Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Fantasy 5: Jamaal Charles no lock to make Denver’s roster

(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)

One of my fantasy matras is “old players don’t win you fantasy championships.” Sure, they may be good for you in September and October, but the NFL is a league that favors youth. The young guys rise to the top when fantasy championships are on the line. Remember that if you consider drafting the first player in today’s fantasy five.

1. Jamaal Charles 50/50 to make the Broncos?

Word from the Denver beat suggests as much, citing his injuries as the reason for pessimism. Charles still isn’t fully recovered from his most recent knee injury and has played in just eight games over the last two seasons.

Charles has name recognition in the fantasy community, but his recent inability to stay healthy is alarming. He’s also entering his age-30 season. For ordinary human beings, 30 years old is a ripe young age. But for NFL running backs, that’s essentially the time when you apply for your AARP membership. Sure, there’s the chance we get a glimpse of the Charles that once was, but there’s an equal chance we never see him on an NFL field again.

You have to take risks to win in fantasy football. But there’s always a careful balancing act. In this case, the risks outweigh the rewards. Charles is currently going in the eighth round of fantasy drafts ahead of several upside young backs, including Dalvin Cook, C.J. Prosise, and Samaje Perine. Those in early fantasy drafts should err toward youth and take a hard pass on Charles.

2. Steelers send Ladarius Green packing

That sound you hear is my utter and profound disappointment. Green has one of the highest ceilings in the league at the tight end position, but concussion issues have kept him off the field for much of the last year. Green suited up in six games last season, but only saw significant snaps in three games from Weeks 13-15. Over that span, he averaged eight targets per game and scored the fourth-most fantasy points per game.

Sadly, a full season of Green in the Steelers offense and the accompanying tantalizing fantasy production will never come to fruition. Whether Green ever surfaces again in the NFL is unclear. However, his departure means Jesse James now slots in as the top receiving tight end and de facto best fantasy option on the Steelers’ depth chart. Xavier Grimble will also have a role in the passing game. James is a low-ceiling option who doesn’t project favorably for fantasy purposes. He’s best left undrafted this year.

3. Zay Jones banged up

The rookie second-rounder suffered a knee injury during Bills OTAs and is considered week-to-week. Given Sammy Watkins’ injury history, this is something Buffalo can ill afford, especially during the critical offseason practices where rookies essentially get a crash course in their new team’s playbook.

Jones enters the NFL with an impressive college resume where he finished as the FBS all-time leader in receptions with 399. He racked up 158 catches last year alone, though only 13.4 percent of them traveled over 20 yards in the air. Jones showed good speed at the combine (4.45 40 time) and has good size for the position at 6-2, 201 pounds.

While Buffalo isn’t the best location for wide receiver fantasy production, Jones is expected to have a prominent role in the offense this season provided he can stay healthy. He’s worth a look as a deep flier in redraft leagues, especially those with PPR scoring.

4. ADP spotlight: Paul Perkins

The Giants running back is currently coming off the board as a strong value at the turn of the sixth and seventh rounds as the 30th running back in consensus ADP. That’s an excellent spot to grab a player who appears to be locked in as the Giants’ lead back after word has surfaced that the Giants were never seriously in play for LeGarrette Blount.

Perkins got off to a slow start in his rookie season, but saw an uptick in playing time starting in Week 9. While he was far from a productive fantasy option over that span, Perkins did rack up 111 touches. He also flashed upside in Week 17 with 102 rushing yards. He isn’t expected to do much as a receiver with Shane Vereen on the roster, but it’s fair to project Perkins to top the 200-carry mark. He’ll need to improve on his lackluster 4.1 yards per carry and actually find the end zone, but Perkins offers a lot of upside as an RB3 selection.

5. Fantasy hype continues to build for Breshad Perriman

One of the participants in an industry mock draft last night said he was “all in” on Perriman this year. Though perhaps a bit of hyperbole, the momentum is building for the third-year receiver who currently projects as Baltimore’s 1A receiving option along with Mike Wallace. Perriman helped fan the flames this week in a trope-laden interview on the team website where he said “I’m expecting a huge year from me” along with saying that he and QB Joe Flacco are “getting on the same page.”

The interview aside, Perriman certainly has intriguing upside given his size and speed. Injuries sidelined him for his entire rookie season, but he managed to suit up for 15 games last season. However, he was largely a disappointment with just 33 catches on 64 targets. But there’s more opportunity for Perriman with Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken out of the picture.

While we expect Perriman to take a big step forward this year, we aren’t quite “all in” here at PFF. Our fantasy football projections have Perriman seeing nearly double his 2016 target total, but he still comes in conservatively as a borderline WR4. That’s slightly ahead of his current ADP as the 61st wideout in early fantasy drafts, which means Perriman currently offers value. That will likely change throughout the summer as the Perriman hype continues to grow.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.