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by contributing author Bill Berthold
Replacing Jamal

The dreaded torn ACL claimed its first relevant victim this fantasy football season in Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamal Charles. Sports Illustrated ranked Charles as the top running back entering the season in its 2011 Fantasy Football Magazine. While the rating seemed a bit ambitious at the time, Charles was no doubt a first round pick in most fantasy football formats. Losing a first round pick and a top running back to boot can devastate a fantasy team. Thomas Jones is the obvious pick up for Charles owners who did not have the handcuff, but what if Jones cannot be had? Here are five possible replacements for Charles who although may look like coal have potential to turn into diamonds.

Willis McGahee, RB Denver Broncos

If you owned Jamal Charles and Willis McGahee is a free agent then this might be your best option. McGhee has been named the starting running back in Denver, replacing the injured and ineffective Knowshon Moreno. Last week against the McGahee rushed for 101 yards on 28 carries and scored one touchdown in the Broncos 24-22 win against the Cincinnati Bengals. He should see at least 20 rushing attempts in week 3 against the Tennessee Titans. Come to think of it, McGahee isn’t a bad pickup for non Jamal Charles’ owners.

Dexter McCluster, RB Kansas City Chiefs

Dexter McCluster has seen targets in the passing game and now may see more rushing attempts. The former Ole Miss standout has been targeted 10 times in the passing game and has nine receptions on the season. He has only carried the ball 12 times for a respectable 93 yards in two games. Like Charles, McCluster lacks ideal size for a running back but is very explosive. It may actually be McCluster and not Jones who benefits the most from the Charles’ injury. The 0-2 Chiefs need playmakers and McCluster is just that.