Dynasty Debate: LeSean McCoy vs. Jamaal Charles

Some of the hottest topics in the free DLF Forum tend to revolve around “this guy vs. that guy” debates. Choosing who to target or keep between different players is one of the most difficult things to do in a dynasty league. Success involves a lot of thought, research, and a little bit of luck.

The dynasty debate series here on DLF focuses on two different players and attempts to make the picture a little more clear in terms of likely future production.

Today’s debate revolves around LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles,  two of fantasy football’s top tier running backs.

Let’s take a look!


Charles = 5’11”, 199 pounds
McCoy = 5’11”, 208 pounds

Interesting, eh?

There seems to be this thought out there that Charles is significantly smaller than a lot of the more productive backs in the league. Fact is, he’s simply not. McCoy is just a little heavier, but there’s really no advantage here between these two.

Many successful running backs bulk up to 225 pounds or so, but these two show you can still be explosive and productive hovering around 200 pounds. It could make them a little more susceptible to injury, but much of that risk comes with the position.

Advantage: Push


Before I jumped into analyzing this, I thought this was going to be a clear advantage for Charles. I figured his number of touches were going to be significantly less than McCoy’s.

Fact is, they’re not.

LeSean McCoy rushed for 1,080 yards on 207 carries (5.2 average), and caught 78 passes for 592 yards in 2010. His 285 total touches accounted for 1,672 yards, and nine total touchdowns.

Jamaal Charles rushed for 1,467 yards on 230 carries (6.4 average), and caught 45 passes for 468 yards in 2010. His 275 total touches accounted for 1,935 yards, and eight total touchdowns.

Ten touches is amazingly close, isn’t it?

In a non-PPR league, Charles outscored McCoy. In many PPR leagues, McCoy outscored Charles. There just isn’t enough one way or another to give a clear advantage to either player at this point.

Advantage: Push


Andy Reid seems pretty entrenched in Philadelphia, though the rope is likely getting just a little bit shorter. Regardless, McCoy’s job as one of the few featured backs in the league is pretty safe.

In his current role, he’s never going to be option number one with Michael Vick around to vulture rushing touchdowns. The Eagles are also an incredibly pass happy team. While other teams run to set up the pass, the Eagles are notorious for doing the opposite. Those two factors limit McCoy’s potential a little bit as of right now.

In Kansas City, Charles is the most explosive weapon on the team. While the Chiefs were concerned about his durability going into the season, he’s answered the bell thus far. Thomas Jones was rented last season to help alleviate some of the burden off Charles, but Kansas City simply couldn’t keep Charles off the field too much.

The Chiefs may always employ a two-back approach, regardless of the coach. However, there’s always a chance they decide to let Charles be the featured back and give him over 300 touches in a season. If that happens, look out!

Slight Advantage: Charles


Both players are extremely productive, but Charles has an explosiveness that may be unrivaled in the league.

For the season, Charles’ yards per carry average was one of the four highest in the history of the NFL. He also had a rush of at least 10 yards in all but one game in 2010, and all but four in the last two years combined. He’s also had a touchdown rush of at least 75 yards in each of the last two seasons.

McCoy is no slouch in the explosiveness department. He’s had a rush of at least 10 yards in all but 10 games the past two seasons. However, he’s had only five runs of over 40 yards in his career, compared to eight for Charles.

While both players have the ability to score whenever they touch the ball, Charles’ tendency to hit the home run for a fantasy owner give him the edge.

Slight Advantage: Charles


In my mind, this debate is much closer than some may think. It’s no slam dunk that Jamaal Charles is the better dynasty commodity, contrary to what one may think without really looking at the numbers.

This debate really comes down to the concept of a fantasy football “ceiling.”

It’s very likely that LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles could easily repeat their numbers in 2011 and beyond. However, it’s tough to look at McCoy and think he could do a whole lot more damage in the future than he did last season. With the limitations of McCoy’s pass-based offense and the presence of Michael Vick, his chances are going to be somewhat limited in the near future. You have to look at McCoy and think he may already be at his ceiling.

With Charles, there’s always the chance he’s given more opportunities. While his size may limit the chances of that happening, he’s proven to be durable enough to handle a bigger load. The simple chance that he gets more than 300 touches in a season makes you think he may not have hit his ceiling quite yet.

The debate between LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles is a good one. In the end, I’d love to have either on my dynasty fantasy football team. If I had to choose one, I’d go with Charles, though.

Stay tuned to DLF, your offseason home for fantasy football.

Ken Kelly

Ken Kelly

Senior Partner - Executive Editor at DynastyLeagueFootball
Ken is a corporate trainer by day an a tireless editor of dynasty content by night. His passion for the World Champion Seattle Seahawks is second only to his love of fantasy football and the dynasty format.

Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
Ken Kelly

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  1. Jimi Hendrix

    February 5, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I must agree with your assesment. Charles has the big play capbilities that we all love. I would place Charles in the top 5-6 rb’s with Mcoy in the 7-8 spot. But as you say either would be welcome on my team.

  2. Kris Kapsner

    February 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I think an important subject header to always have when comparing two dynasty RBs is “Age”. The younger the better. And, with both RBs breaking out this last season, just knowing that McCoy is 2 years younger is definitely a “plus” on his side of the comparison. And, it makes the two of them much closer in dynasty value in my opinion.

    An interested subject of debate right now is whether or not either or both of these guys over take MJD in current dynasty rankings due to his knee surgery. And, if they do pass him up, by how much? I’d be curious what you guys think on that.

    • DLF_KenK

      February 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      I considered age as a metric on here, but I typically don’t when they’re so close. Charles was born on Dec 27, 1986, while McCoy was born in July of 1988. Charles is 24, but McCoy will turn 23 in July. So, there’s really only a year and a half of an age difference.

      While that could be a plus for McCoy, it’s pretty small in my book, especially when you figure the shelf life for running backs is so short anyway.

      I focus more on age if someone is 30 vs. 28 more than 24 vs. 22, just based on historical trends of when backs tend to wear down.

      I think their age will be a bigger issue 5-6 years down the road.

    • DLF_KenK

      February 5, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      I also don’t think the knee injury with MJD is going to automatically knock him down a rung or two. He’s still the centerpiece of that offense and has been really consistent.

      I could see Charles passing him this year, but not too much.

  3. The Vich

    February 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Great article Ken.

    I agree with you on McCoy’s current upside especially with Vick as the QB, but as with any Vick discussion there is the concern of injury. Above you discuss Vick vulturing TDs and add to that obviously many passing yards when Vick decides to run. That argument can be made with any QB, but I think most agree that Vick is more injury prone with his style. Given that McCoy’s current value with Vick at QB is currently at or near it’s ceiling, what is McCoy’s ceiling with a Vick injury. My question is – what do you guys feel McCoy’s upside could be with Vick out for an extended period? Brian Westbrook type numbers for a season of 2K total yards and 11-12 TDs. Westbrook caught 90 passes in ’07. With Vick out is there any reason not to expect those numbers out of McCoy? I haven’t looked at the numbers with Vick out, but that doesn’t always equate to an extended period out. I like the fact with McCoy – that you can try to acquire him knowing what you are getting, but can possibly get a nice little bump and higher ceiling with a Vick injury. What do you think?

  4. Joe Bidwell

    February 6, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I know this is off-topic, but if Best can stay healthy, I think he’ll be very similar to Charles. Size-wise they are very similar and both offer the same explosiveness. I think Best will have the better offense and more opportunities to produce. This may be the debate of 2012! 😉

  5. The Jewru

    May 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Talent wise it it Jamaal Charles no contest, but situation needs to be weighted heavily here. Runnings backs have averaged more yards per attempt than any other team in football in Andy Reid’s tenure. Vick makes running lanes that wouldn’t typical appear , appear. See Warrick Dunn. I would personally take McCoy. A Vick injury would have a negative effect on McCoy despite the extra goal line attempts.

  6. Chris R.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I don’t know if I agree with the situation going to Charles. Philly/Andy Reid is a gold mine for RB’s who can catch the ball well, just look at Westy before him. Andy Reid never rotates between two backs, and fully trust in 1, you can always expect a bell cow no matter what his size is.

    Also, the QB plays into the situation, and when Vick is the QB it’s going to make life easier on the RB, yes the goal line TD’s will be poached but McCoy is going to break off longer runs anyway. They run a ton of screens and tosses to him down there anyway.

    I just feel with Vick the defense has to account for him, and it makes the lanes to run through as well as attention easier for McCoy.

    Guess who the defense keys on for the Chiefs? It’s all about Charles. I also know that while Thomas Jones is old it’s not like Haley is against taking a big RB in the 2nd or 3rd rd next year, we don’t know yet. I obviously won’t hold it against Charles, but I know and trust McCoy in his role with Philly for the next 7 years, I can’t say the same about Charles.

    For all those reasons I think you have to give the situation to McCoy. In ppr leagues, I doubt there is a better situation. He’s pulling in catches like a #1 WR.

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