Even if Jamaal Charles were going to play this weekend, Spencer Ware, at the prices at which he’s been listed, would need to be acquired for your daily fantasy team Week 1.
Now that the Chiefs’ franchise back is almost certain to miss Sunday’s opener against the Chargers, Ware’s listings do not make sense. As the week’s progressed, Kansas City’s preseason starter has ventured into the everyone-else-will-have-him zone.
But there’s a reason: this is a starting running back behind an offensive line that should be improved. And while the Chargers should be better than most are tabbing them, the Chiefs are 6.5-point home favorites for a reason.
There are going to be plenty of opportunities for Ware in a methodical offense, and he’s an attractive get at non-point-per-reception (PPR) FanDuel ($5,400, FORTY-SECOND-highest-priced running back among healthy or questionable runners) or at PPR DraftKings ($4,400, 30th). Men ranked ahead of Ware this week: Alfred Morris, Bilal Powell, Chris Johnson and Jerick McKinnon (!).
Ware is a high-end RB-2/low-end RB-1 available at FLEX prices. If this were real football, the NFLPA would step in and admonish Ware’s agent for allowing him to sign with a team at such wages.
If you want to be a contrarian, and it behooves DFSers on some occasions to do this, fine. But these kind of opportunities aren’t going to come around too often. Ware, at these prices, gives owners immense flexibility they should not have based on the circumstances.
Again, even if Charles were set to make his debut, Ware remains a good bet. He was the unquestioned starter during the preseason, and the Chiefs are going to ease their superstar ball-carrier into action regardless of when he returns from his second ACL tear this decade. And unlike last year, it’s Ware, and not Charcandrick West, that looks to be the prime beneficiary.
If this were Bill Belichick or Mike Shanahan, DFS buyers would have to be skeptical of Ware’s price and wondering if West or even Knile Davis was going to infiltrate the backfield. But under Andy Reid, the Chiefs have been an incredibly predictable offense when it comes to their priority hierarchy. There’s Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce and the rest among receivers, and now that Ware has moved ahead of West for the No. 2 spot behind Charles, it’s going to be the former Seahawks draft pick around the goal line and on early downs.
Last season, West usurped Davis after two years of a Charles-Davis two-deep depth chart, and it did reasonably well. He showed quality straight-line speed but obviously lacked the natural ball-carrying ability Charles possesses. Ware began to eat into his workload after an anonymous two-plus years in the NFL to that point, and going into 2016, the inside-the-tackles bruiser became the natural complement to Charles’ flash.
Ware didn’t enter the fray until Week 10 and mostly split carries with West down the stretch, but he averaged 5.6 yards per carry (to West’s 4.0). He commandeered the goal-line work from West and led the Chiefs in rushing TDs (six) despite receiving 88 fewer handoffs than West. In the four games Ware received at least 10 totes last season, he scored in each and averaged 16 fantasy points per game.
Without Charles, he’s a difference-maker for money you’d spend on a lineup-filler.
The primary backup from last season will still be used, but for fantasy purposes, Ware should be looked to in this circumstance.
Kansas City’s blockers are better as well. In signing Mitchell Schwartz, the Chiefs have their first long-term right tackle since John Tait left in 2004. Center Mitch Morse and left tackle Eric Fisher are also above-average options, with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif having a better offseason in 2016.
The Chargers ranked 27th in DraftKings points allowed to running backs last year, and while Brandon Mebane is an upgrade from their sub-optimal nose tackle options from a year ago, San Diego is not exactly a defense to be feared just yet.
Ware will be in the interesting position of costing more fake money next week and having a lesser role potentially after Charles returns.
This is the week to capitalize on miscalculations by the big two DFS conglomerates, and you may actually enjoy watching Alex Smith and Chiefs’ offense this week if you do.