Projected carries in KC, Houston, Indy, Buffalo and Oakland

DENVER - JANUARY 03: Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs rushes against the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High on January 3, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Chris Wesseling of Rotoworld has released updated carry projections for the entire AFC, but let’s focus on five teams: the Chiefs, Texans, Colts, Bills and Raiders.

We’ll go one by one:

Jamaal Charles: 220
Thomas Jones: 140
Kestahn Moore: 30

Charles emerged as the Chiefs’ MVP last year, averaging 20 carries and 121 rushing yards once hit he the starting lineup at mid-season. The projection above accounts for Jones in slightly more than a Willis McGahee-type short-yardage/inside role, giving Charles just under 14 carries per contest. Throw in three receptions per week and it’s enough to leave Charles as a borderline RB1.

Obviously, these numbers disregard the fact that TJ is still atop the depth chart and the head coach is telling the press that Charles’s role is ‘undefined.’ While it would seem incomprehensible to fantasy owners that Haley would limit Charles’s touches given how well he played last season, the news out of KC should not be ignored. TJ has been overlooked everywhere he’s went and while I’m hoping for a 60/40 split like we see here, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more 50/50.

Arian Foster: 215
Steve Slaton: 125
Jeremiah Johnson: 20
Chris Henry: 10

The line for now trendy Foster love starts behind Rotoworld. We were hyping the former Tennessee star as a Dynasty deep sleeper once the Texans snatched him up after last year’s draft while promoting him as the potential answer in Houston by mid-November. Although Ben Tate’s season-ending broken fibula has killed Foster’s sleeper potential for this year, it certainly offers more clarity in this backfield: Foster is Batman; Slaton is Robin. Draft accordingly.

I didn’t jump on the Foster bandwagon until earlier this summer, but with Tate’s injury, he looks like he should vastly outplay his current draft position (9.02 over the last week). Look for his ADP to continue to rise. I’d start thinking about picking him in the 7th or the 8th. He played very well at the end of last season, has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff this summer, and it’s clear that the team doesn’t view Slaton as a feature back any longer.

Feb. 07, 2010 - Miami Gardens, Florida, USA - JOSEPH ADDAI puts a move on DARREN SHARPER in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium.

Joseph Addai: 190
Donald Brown: 140
Mike Hart: 25

Brown’s assorted injuries and pass-protection woes (“God damn-it, Donald!”) led to Addai hogging 65 percent of the carries last season. That won’t happen again this year. Addai is due to hit free agency in 2011, and the Colts want to see what they have in their explosive 2009 first-rounder. Addai is being overdrafted as a reliable RB2.

People have been writing off Addai for a few years now, yet in PPR leagues, he finished as last season’s RB6. Pundits are optimistic about Brown’s chances because Addai is in a contract year, and the argument goes that the Colts will want to see what they have in Brown. Even so, Rotoworld is projecting 190 carries for Addai, which is 29 carries off of last year’s pace. Throw in 40 receptions and eight TD (a reasonable estimate for Addai given how often the Colts get into the redzone) and you still have a solid to serviceable RB2 — and that assumes Brown gets those 140 carries. What if the Colts instead elect to get all they can out of Addai while he’s still in town?

Fred Jackson: 190
C.J. Spiller: 150
Marshawn Lynch: 105

F-Jax is “shooting for” for a return from his broken hand by the season opener, which is on the optimistic end of the scale. I took 10 carries from his projection and split them between Spiller and Lynch. Jackson should remain the primary inside runner. He’s clearly outplayed Lynch for two years, and Spiller doesn’t run between the tackles.

Fred Jackson looked pretty good last year when he was the featured back, but he’s 29 years old and the Bills elected to draft C.J. Spiller as their RB of the future. Jackson is sidelined with a broken hand, so Spiller has a crack to take the starting job. The Bills’ offense is pretty pathetic, and this is shaping up as a RBBC, so my recommendation is to avoid it altogether, if you can.

Michael Bush: 190
Darren McFadden: 170
Michael Bennett: 30

Cable has given mixed signals on his intentions for the backfield, mentioning both a tandem attack and a “best man wins” competition. Bush is clearly a stronger inside runner while McFadden operates much better in space. My gut tells me McFadden is in for a breakout season, but Bush is the safe bet to lead this team in carries.

Bush averaged 4.8 ypc last year and was in the top 10 in yards after first contact, so the guy can run. With Jason Campbell under center, the Raiders should be able to run the ball more, which would seem to be Tom Cable’s preference. Bush is clearly the best first- and second-down back on the roster, while McFadden would be better served if he assumed a Reggie Bush-type role. But these are the Raiders and they’re unpredictable. I’d stay away unless you’re looking for a fourth RB in the 8th or 9th round.

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