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The Curious Case of Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware presents a confounding situation for his fantasy owners. Jamaal Charles is due back next week, or in two weeks at the latest, and with his return, Ware will once again be relegated to little more than handcuff wasteland. Or will he? Ware has proven that he is much more than a fill-in starter. In week 1, he was Alex Smith’s most targeted receiver, running downfield routes on more than one occasion. He passed his RB1 test with flying colors, going off for 129 receiving yards, while adding another 70 and a touchdown on the ground. Coming into the season, Ware was seen as little more than a between the tackles battering ram, a player the Chiefs could use sparingly to wear down a defense while Charles was taking a breather and working mainly outside the tackle boxes. With his newfound ability to deliver in the passing game, Ware creates a new matchup nightmare that Andy Reid will now have to think long and hard about over the weeks to come.
No one is denying that Charles is a special talent, and his career 5.5 yards per carry, good enough for the top spot among all running backs, yes all running backs in the history of the game, attests to that. With all due respect to Charles though, the Chiefs simply cannot put this genie back into the bottle. It makes too much sense from so many different angles to continue using Ware as an integral piece of the offense. He has now scored a touchdown in each game he’s started, and has become a fantasy football monster in that same stretch. If Kansas City hopes to make a deep run in the playoffs, which I believe they are more than capable of doing, even with the dreadful, afraid to take chances Alex Smith at QB, they have to allow Charles to be fully rested and as healthy as reasonably possible for the part of the season that really matters. Luckily for fantasy fans and owners of Ware, not so luckily for owners of Charles, this important stretch of the season typically includes leading up to and during the NFL playoffs. Obviously, Charles is not going to simply sit on the bench and rest up while Ware runs away with the starting job, but I see KC utilizing these backs in much more of a timeshare role than most fans want to believe. Ware can pound the ball on early downs and in the ever-valuable goal line role, while Charles is used as the shifty change of pace game changer that can bust off an 80 yard run at any given time, assuming his knee is fully healed.
From a fantasy perspective, this puts owners of both players in a very tricky spot. If I’m a Charles owner, I want to trade him now while his value is still perceived as high in the majority of leagues. Conversely, if I’m a Ware owner, I consider trading him for a WR2 level player such as his teammate Jeremy Maclin, or an Eric Decker or Marvin Jones type. Any fantasy player that knows what they’re doing will likely jump at such an offer, due to Ware’s upside alone with the Charles situation. Personally, I’m holding all my shares of Ware, which I have quite a few of, due to the same upside and my belief that he can continue to produce RB2 level numbers even in a more limited capacity. This is a guy that came as a steep discount in drafts and went largely undrafted in a large amount of leagues. He has the ability to be a league winner if my thinking on his situation comes to pass. If it doesn’t, and you avoid a great trade situation with him, or give up a solid starter for this not quite a sure thing, feel free to blame your fantasy woes on me. I’ll fully admit if I’m wrong on this one, but I just don’t see it at this point in time.