Robert Kelley (According to ESPN, 2016: PPR RB37, Current ADP: RB36/104.5 overall)
Chris Thompson (2016: PPR RB28, Current ADP: RB62+/170+ overall)
Keith Marshall (Undrafted)
Mack Brown (Undrafted)
Matt Jones (Recently Informed that he is not a part of the teams plans moving forward)
Samaje Perine (Rookie 4th round pick, Current ADP: RB53/129.2 overall)
It may be a bit early to take current Average Draft Position (ADP) as fact, but no Washington Redskins RBs are currently in the ADP top 100. This means there is plenty of room for great fantasy value. The Redskins backfield did not produce a fantasy star last season, but they did give us a couple options towards the back end of the 2016. Enter Rob Kelley, who was a sneaky preseason stash who appeared on my Bottom 5%.
Unfortunately, he saw only 17 carries through the first seven weeks of the season, but did manage take the lead role from Matt Jones with a solid three-week stretch (Weeks 8,10 & 11) in which he racked 321 yards rushing and four scores on 67 carries. Although, he did slow down considerably after this three-game stretch, Kelley proved to be an effective early down back on the NFL level. During his nine game stretch as the Redskins lead back, he averaged 16 carries and 66 yards rushing per game. If you stretch this out over a full 16 game season, he would top the 1,000 yard rushing mark.
If the 2016 debut for Kelley was encouraging, the 2017 NFL Draft was less so for fantasy owners. Jay Gruden invested a 4th round pick in the rookie RB out of Oklahoma, Samaje Perine, in this years' draft. Perine is an incredibly powerful, downhill runner who proved very capable of handling a full workload throughout his collegiate career. He does not possess game breaking speed, but he is more elusive at the point of contact than one would expect. He is a very capable RB that should push Kelley for touches immediately.
Now Kelley and Perine aren't clones by any means, but their similar skill sets do muddy the waters a bit as far as who to invest in as the early down/short yardage RB in Washington. The worst case scenario for fantasy owners is for these two to alternate series, with neither putting distance between the other. From a fantasy perspective, both are more than worth scooping at their current draft positions.
I will give the current nod to Kelley as the incumbant, but if Perine quickly picks up the intricacies of Gruden's offense, don't be surprised if he takes the lead in this backfield. At their current ADP (Kelley 8th-10th round & Perine 10th-12th round), an effective strategy may be to draft both and see who takes the lead in this backfield. After all, Washington did finish third in total yards last season. There may be a top 25 option at RB by default if this finish in the top 3 in total offense again. So an 8th and 11th rounder pick would be worth the investment to have a monopoly on the rushing leader in this offense and wait until one emerges as the lead back. However, both are unlikely to contribute much of anything in the passing game, which will knock them both down a bit in PPR formats. Speaking of PPR formats, there is another name in this backfield that needs to be discussed.
Many of you are likely wondering how I have not brought up Chris Thompson's name so far. Truth be told, I find it criminal that Thompson is currently not being drafted in ESPN live drafts. He finished the season as the PPR RB28! He hauled in 49 passes, amassed over 700 total yards from scrimmage and found the end zone five times. He has no business going undrafted. A pass catching specialist in an offense that throws the ball all over place (606 times last year to be exact). Sure, he is never going to be a breakout candidate. However, he is a dependable, bye week/deep PPR league option that you can plug and play when in a pinch.
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