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Fantasy mailbag: RBs you should own for Chiefs, Cardinals

Thanks for submitting your questions for this week’s NFL Nation fantasy mailbag. Send them anytime @MikeTriplett and I’ll share insight every week from our 32 team reporters around the league.

@MikeTriplett: Charcandrick West is definitely the Kansas Chiefs running back to own in the wake of Jamaal Charles’ knee injury. West has the highest ceiling, and ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher said he expects West to get more of the playing time, especially in the passing game.

But whether West can be trusted as a consistent starting fantasy back remains to be seen. Chiefs coach Andy Reid used the dreaded “committee” word this week. And Teicher wrote that coaches are waiting to see how things play out before finalizing the pecking order between West and Knile Davis.

“Quietly, they kind of like West,” Teicher told me. “The term has been used to me, ‘a poor man’s Jamaal Charles.’ They think there are a lot of similarities in how they go about business. Now, he’s not as good as Charles, don’t mistake that. But they’re kind of eager to see what he can do.”

Teicher said Davis could get more of the goal-line opportunities because he’s the bigger back. But the Chiefs might prefer West in every other situation since he’s a much better pass-catcher, a more versatile runner and likely at least as good in pass protection (though he hasn’t been asked to do a lot of it yet).

Teicher doesn’t expect any one running back to carry the load the way Charles did. But if anyone does emerge in that role down the road, West has a better chance than Davis.

“They’ve been kind of waiting on Davis,” Teicher said. “This is his third year, and they kind of drafted him to groom him. But it just hasn’t worked.”

@MikeTriplett: Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss gave a strong endorsement to Chris Johnson, saying he still expects him to approach the 100-yard mark on a weekly basis even though former starter Andre Ellington is back from injury.

“I think they’ve seen what he does for the offense, and I don’t think there’s any need to change that,” Weinfuss said of Johnson, who has at least 72 rushing yards in four straight games, including two 100-yard performances in the past three weeks.

Weinfuss said he also found it telling that the Cardinals replaced Ellington with Johnson as their starting running back on the team’s depth chart – something they don’t often tinker with.

“I think that is Chris Johnson’s job from here on out,” Weinfuss said.

That makes me think Chris Johnson is still the better choice over Browns rookie Duke Johnson, though it’s a closer call in a PPR league because Duke Johnson has caught 21 passes over the past three weeks.

Cleveland Browns reporter Pat McManamon said Johnson’s touches might continue to increase a bit, maybe by 20 percent, but he will still share them with Isaiah Crowell.

“The way it went Sunday is pretty much going to be typical, I'd guess,” McManamon said. “Duke had nine runs and eight passes thrown to him, Crowell 13 runs and two passes.”

@MikeTriplett: Indianapolis Colts receiver Donte Moncrief stepped aside last Thursday night while teammate Andre Johnson had a big night against his former team, the Houston Texans. But Colts reporter Mike Wells thinks that was just a blip on the radar. You shouldn’t be scared off by Moncrief’s quiet performance (one catch, three yards).

“He’s on his way to being the No. 2 receiver opposite of T.Y. Hilton,” said Wells, who said Moncrief’s size, speed and big-play ability will make him one of Andrew Luck’s top targets, especially when teams are keying on Hilton.

Wells said Luck and Moncrief have definitely started to build a rapport in Moncrief’s second season, including a go-ahead touchdown connection in the fourth quarter against Tennessee three weeks ago.

“He’s developed that relationship with Luck where he’s comfortable and he doesn’t hesitate going to him,” Wells said. “Last year as a rookie, he had some concerns about drops. But Luck obviously has trust with him now.”