Hillis puts a dent into Charles’ draft value

We all knew that the Chiefs were in the market for a running back this offseason. Unfortunately for the value of Jamaal Charles, the addition of Peyton Hillis is going to have a negative effect on his 2012 fantasy appeal.

Hillis has agreed to terms on a deal with the Chiefs that gives them a very nice 1-2 punch on the ground. The problem in fantasy land, of course, is the threat of an imminent backfield-by-committee in which Charles gets the early-down work while Hillis takes over in short-yardage and goal-line situations. It’s yet another situation that will cause owners a lot of headaches.

The move reunites Hillis with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who ran the Browns offense when the bruising runner had a breakout season in 2010. When we also consider that Charles is coming off major knee reconstruction, well, it’s going to be tough to invest more than a late second-round selection on him. A major reason for the high level of production from Charles two seasons ago while sharing carries with Thomas Jones was his explosive playmaking skills — he averaged 6.4 yards per carry and was a huge home-run hitter.

If some of that speed was left on the operating table, even if it’s during the early portion of the season, Charles will be hard pressed to match his 2010 totals. That doesn’t mean he can’t put up somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,400 yards from scrimmage and seven to nine touchdowns, but Charles isn’t as attractive an option as he was one year ago.

As for Hillis, he’ll be a terrific fantasy handcuff for owners who draft Charles and are willing to invest a middle- to late-round pick. If Hillis can avoid the injuries that haunted him during his cursed 2011 campaign, he could be a decent flex option in 12-team leagues with added value in touchdown-based formats.

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