Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Two reasons I’m not worried Andy Reid will underuse Jamaal Charles


08/07/2013 11:23 AM

05/16/2014 9:54 AM

Jamaal Charles is the Chiefs’ best player on offense which, in this day of the NFL, means he is their most impactful player if not best player overall. The arrival of Andy Reid and his reputation of calling 580 pass plays a game means some are concerned about how much Charles will be able to help.

Randy Covitz wrote about

this, it was included in the most recent Twitter Tuesday

, and it’s certainly on the minds of many Chiefs fans.

Time will tell like it always does, of course, but I’m not worried about this and as the proud owner of both Charles and Eagles running back Lesean McCoy in fantasy football I want to tell you why:

If Charles puts up McCoy’s numbers, and gets McCoy’s chances, he’ll actually be used a bit


than we’ve become used to.

The key – and this is part of what Randy was writing about – is in pass receptions.

Here are McCoy’s rushes, receptions, and total touches the last three years:

2010: 207, 78, 285.

2011: 273, 48, 321.

2012: 200, 54, 254.

Here are Charles’ numbers, and I’ll use his 2009 season since he basically missed all of 2011:

2009: 190, 40, 230.

2010: 230, 45, 275.

2012: 285, 35, 320.

So, and I think we all realize this is a crude comparison and there are a million factors we’re not accounting for, each back’s usage is essentially the same.

McCoy’s 2011 and Charles’ 2012 wash out, each player’s 2010 are similar, and McCoy’s 2012 was a little higher usage than Charles’ 2010.

Statistically, anyway, the biggest difference is that – in the seasons we’re measuring here – Charles played all but one game; McCoy missed six.

So, a different way of calculating, here are each player’s average in these three seasons:

McCoy: 16.2 carries, 76.9 yards, 4.7 y/a; 4.3 catches, 30.5 yards, 7.1 y/r; 20.5 touches, 107.4 total yards.

Charles: 15 carries, 87.1 yards, 5.8 y/a; 2.6 catches, 21.3 yards, 8.2 y/r; 17.6 touches, 108.7 total yards.

So by this measure, McCoy’s been used slightly more in both the running and passing games, an average of about three more touches per game for about the same yards because Charles is ridiculously good.

But Sam, maybe you’re saying, don’t compare McCoy to Charles because for years we’ve been complaining he should get the ball much more. Compare Reid’s usage of his star back to that of other star backs in the league


OK, will do. Over the last three years, here are the top 10 running backs ranked in total touches, with average per game in parentheses:

Arian Foster: 1,115 (24.8)

Maurice Jones-Drew: 819 (22.8)

Ray Rice: 1,055 (22)

Adrian Peterson: 933 (21.7)

Steven Jackson: 973 (20.7)

Chris Johnson: 991 (20.6)

Michael Turner: 905 (18.9)

Marshawn Lynch: 875 (18.6)

LeSean McCoy: 860 (20.5)

Matt Forte: 835 (19.4)^

^ Frank Gore has one fewer touch over this time than Forte.

So, at least by this measure, McCoy is among the league’s most used backs – only six have averaged more touches, and two of those by the equivalent of one extra touch every five games. Body type and other factors make it easy to see why Foster, MJD, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are getting more than one extra touch per game.

Which is one reason I don’t think Reid is going to ignore Charles.

The other: Reid is a smart football guy, and Charles is one of the best backs in the league.


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