Posted: Sunday September 23, 2012 9:26PM ; Updated: Tuesday September 25, 2012 11:11AM
Eric Mack
Eric Mack>INSIDE FANTASY FOOTBALL

Charles in charge, LeShoure stars, Week 3 notes, Week 4 observations

Story Highlights

Jamaal Charles had six carries last week, but ran 33 times for 233 yards Sunday

He was to split carries from newly-acquired Peyton Hills, but Hillis has struggled

Mikel LeShoure, who collected 100 yards and a TD, becomes a must-start

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Jamaal Charles
Jamaal Charles (left) rushed for 233 yards, including a 91-yard scoring run.
Dan Anderson/ZUMAPRESS.com

The Chiefs might have finally figured things out: Get the ball to the back with the highest per-carry average in NFL history. Then, give it to him some more.

And, when you're done giving it to him, pass it to him.

Jamaal Charles, welcome back to fantasy prominence.

Sure, it was just the Saints porous run defense, but Charles wasn't healthy enough to get more than six carries the week prior. Not only did Charles' reconstructed knee prove healthy enough for 33 carries, 233 rushing yards and a 91-yard touchdown run this Sunday, he was able to relegate time-share back Peyton Hillis to being a non-factor.

Hillis was supposed to split carries with him 50-50 and take the goal-line touches. Instead, Hillis mustered just three carries for 11 yards, while Charles carried the load like he never has before and even added six catches for 55 yards.

Charles, you are in charge and, along with Chiefs playcallers, we no longer hate you in fantasy.

Here are the rest of the newsmakers in the Week 3 Fantasy Football Fast Forward:

Game-changers

1. He sure looks like a LeShoure thing -- In a bit of a surprise, the Lions started Mikel LeShoure coming off a two-game suspension and a 2011-season-costing Achilles' injury. And, they didn't even bother to give their previous starter, Kevin Smith, a sniff of a touch.

LeShoure is now a must-have in fantasy after his 26 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. He added four catches for 34 yards in the passing game, too.

In one of the most potent offenses in the NFL, LeShoure has arrived as a feature back.

Jahvid Best (PUP list, post-concussion syndrome) might eventually return in the second half of the season, but LeShoure clearly is the Lions' RB of choice for the coming weeks.

The bad news is he faces some strong run defenses -- and has a bye Week 5.

2. CJNoK please just go away -- Let's consider Chris Johnson a nobody in fantasy. Held to just 24 yards on 14 carries, he makes the Titans' running game worthless.

It figures to only get worse in the coming weeks, too. The Titans go to Houston to face one of the elite run defenses, then face an underrated Vikings run defense in Minnesota and, in Week 6, the run-stuffing Steelers come to town.

Not until Week 8 at the Colts does there look like an opportunity to start Johnson again. You have to be beyond frustrated already but sell, sell, sell -- even if you have to sell low. It is going to be worse before it gets better.

Now, if you have a stable of backs and don't need to start Johnson until the second half of the season, then maybe you buy low on him and stash him in depths of your bench. Don't dare start this guy for the next month.

3. Back to being Bush league? -- Reggie Bush has looked like a fantasy superstar through 2 games, but he left with a knee injury that clouds his status for Week 4. There are three reasons to worry about Bush right now:

a. His knee issue may not be serious, but it does signal perhaps he is not suited to be a full feature back. There are still lingering questions about that, despite his 2011 campaign and huge Week 2.

b. Daniel Thomas is healthy again, taking goal-line carries -- scoring a short TD this week and rushing 19 times for 69 yards -- and is capable of spelling Bush for all or parts of games going forward. Also, rookie Lamar Miller (9-48) is about as capable of a third-string back as there is in fantasy.

c. A Week 4 matchup at Arizona looks incredibly tough. The Dolphins offense isn't good enough to trust on the road against even a decent defense, especially with rookie Ryan Tannehill's slow learning curve.

If you add up the above, you cannot be like having Bush on your team right now -- regardless of the status of his knee.

4. Andre the Giant takes off -- Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) owners have to be sweating, because Andre Brown's performance Thursday night made it look like he could be a new kind of pain in the neck for the veteran. Brown went for 113 yards and two TDs, showing the Giants might just have a viable running game after all.

Bradshaw reportedly can be ready for Week 4, because of the extra rest, but Brown looks capable of taking a chunk of touches. Brown is a bruising back that might even be a factor in the red zone, even if Bradshaw does the lifting between the 20s.

"I'm just going to ride this wave," Brown said. "Hopefully, it's a long wave."

At least that wasn't a wasted first-priority waiver pick-up.

5. Now it's a Spiller chiller -- C.J. Spiller has been the fantasy revelation for a few weeks, but he might not be able to shoulder the load now. After scoring on a 32-yard TD pass, he left with a shoulder injury that allowed third RB Tashard Choice to rush for 91 yards on 20 carries.

Choice is now one of the premium waiver pick-ups, depending on Spiller and Fred Jackson's (knee) health. If Spiller is out for Week 4 against the Pats, you might consider Choice if you have an RB on bye. That is a very good Pats run defense, though.

The good: They finally Fit

Kevin Kolb might have done the most significant thing in his career when he decided to throw to Larry Fitzgerald. Kolb went for 222 yards and two scores, but most important he made Fitzgerald a star again. Fitz reeled in nine receptions for 114 yards and a TD, beating an Eagles defense that has great corners.

It represents a veritable sigh of relief for owners of Fitzgerald, who is the only regular fantasy starter for the surprising Cardinals (save for the emerging D/ST).

Ryan Williams rebounded from his late fumble against the Pats to rush for 83 yards, putting some distance between himself and Beanie Wells as the primary ball carrier. Neither will be a viable start against a very good Dolphins run defense next week.

But at least the Cardinals finally have something with Fitzgerald.

The bad: Built not-so-Ram tough

Sam Bradford and company looked like a good offense last week against the Redskins. They looked worthless against the Bears.

It wasn't just Bradford either. Steven Jackson got just 29 yards on 11 carries and rookie backup Daryl Richardson did little in reserve, too.

We mention this in prominent space because the Rams' road looks unfairly unforgiving. Take a look at these defenses on tap: Week 4 vs. Seattle, Week 5 vs. Arizona, Week 6 at Miami (yes, the Dolphins play good defense, especially against the run), Week 7 vs. Green Bay, Week 8 vs. the Patriots, Week 9 bye, Week 10 at San Francisco, Week 11 vs. the N.Y. Jets, Week 12 at Arizona and Week 13 vs. San Francisco.

That does it for the fantasy regular season.

Shop, trade or even cut all of your Rams. This potentially promising season looks like it is headed for the tank.

The ugly: The (S)Aints

One of the best teams in football dropped to 0-3. They are so much of a mess, Darren Sproles -- the leading receiving back in the league -- didn't even catch a pass.

And Sproles rushed seven times, taking carries from backs Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. It should have been a good week for the Saints backs against the Chiefs run defense that was ripped by Spiller a week ago.

Marques Colston hasn't done a thing. Jimmy Graham caught a TD but was mostly taken out of the game otherwise. Lance Moore, a week after doing nothing himself, wound up being the leading receiver with four catches for 70 yards and a TD.

We used to hate figuring out the Saints' best fantasy players because they spread the ball around so much, but now it has reached an all-time low.

Week 3 observations

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford, Lions -- He was already proving to be a disappointment, if not an early-round bust, but now we have to add injury to insults. Stafford left in the fourth quarter with a leg injury and might not be a great play against the revived Vikings next week. Stay tuned.

Cam Newton, Panthers -- You have to be thinking sophomore slump if you drafted Newton, but that shouldn't change the fact you have to keep running them out there. The Week 4 game at Atlanta should at least become a shootout, even if Newton and the Panthers fall to 1-3.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers -- That was a matchup to take advantage of and Big Ben did with almost 400 yards and four TDs. You have to find a starter for him in Week 4 during his bye, but even a good Eagles defense with elite corners shouldn't scare you off from using him in Week 5. Big Ben does a great job making consistent fantasy stars out of Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller.

Michael Vick, Eagles -- Another week on the roller coaster for Vick owners. Next week should prove to be better in the passing game against a shaky Giants secondary. Jeremy Maclin should be back, while DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek will be better plays.

Tony Romo, Cowboys -- That is now back-to-back awful weeks for your starting QB. Check that, your backup QB. Barring bye-week issues, we probably have to move Romo back to being a marginal fantasy starter. That was a Bucs defense that made a roster full of stars when they played the Giants in Week 2.

Philip Rivers, Chargers -- He was one of the biggest busts of the week, but the Chiefs matchups next week is a potentially tasty one. Keep him active, even if Antonio Gates is banged up and Robert Meachem is struggling to move the needle.

Matt Schaub, Texans -- The quintessential fantasy backup QB looks like he might be a starter for you after his four-TD performance. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels are every-week fantasy-worth starters, while Kevin Walter (3-73-1) and a great running game certainly help Schaub stay at least consistent, if not spectacular like he was Sunday in Denver.

 
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