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Fantasy Football: Start or Sit Rob Kelley in Week 11?


November 17, 2016

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In an unexpected move, Washington head coach Jay Gruden benched the incumbent Matt Jones, and put his fantasy football owners out of their misery as they did not have to feel obligated to make Jones a part of their weekly considerations. In stepped Rob Kelley, or “Fat Rob,” an undrafted running back out of Tulane University. Since taking over for Matt Jones, Kelley has gotten 43 carries for 184 yards and a score in the last two games combined. He’s been a major force for Washington in their last two games. As Washington hosts Green Bay in a 2015 playoff matchup, Fat Rob might not be a player to immediately slot into your fantasy football lineups.

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While Kelley is slotting right into the starting role, he still has the same issue that Matt Jones had to contend with: Chris Thompson and his third-down roles. While Kelley has become the lead back, Thompson and Kelley are still splitting snaps, with Thompson taking 1/3 of the snaps and Kelley taking 2/3 (making it a true third-down-back split, on the surface, at least). This is after Thompson outsnapped Kelley in the game prior. As we see how Fat Rob fares, we still must factor in the Chris Thompson, third down back, snap stealing factor. While this is something most running backs in the league have to deal with, Kelley’s freshness for the role could also have Washington turning towards Thompson in two-minute drills, in the red zone, and with the game on the line. All situations that will limit Kelley’s opportunities for production.

The Packers aren’t any slouch of an opponent, either. On the season, they have given up the eleventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs, and that includes giving up huge games to DeMarco Murray and Zeke Elliott, which drove their average upward. The other backs to have big games against them. The Packers have only given up six touchdowns to RBs so far this year, which means that Kelley’s touchdown upside is limited. The Packers are a great matchup for Kirk Cousins and the passing game, which precludes a strong game from a fragmented run game like Washington’s, as well.

Kelley isn’t the worst player to slot into your lineups, but he is more likely going to be a limited-upside RB2 or flex play. He must contend with splitting snaps with Chris Thompson against a strong run defense. The Pack has given up four big games this year, to Frank Gore, Zeke Elliott, DeMarco Murray and a Tevin Coleman-less Devonta Freeman. These were all bell cow backs that made it on sheer volume of opportunity. Kelley splitting snaps with Thompson in an attack that is likely to be pass-heavy limits his upside. He’s a respectable start, as long as expectations are tempered.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com