No! No! No! Not again!

Fine readers of the Going For 2 fanbase my name is @TheBLeagueSays, and I 100% believe that Ricochet and Adam Cole stole the show at NXT TakeOver 4; Brooklyn, don’t @ me! And thank you for the awesome feedback and conversations following last weeks Pros and Cons – it seems to have struck a chord with the audience. I know that Sammy Watkins is an extremely sensitive topic for his ‘truthers’. However, 3 Targets and 0 Receptions this week is not a good sign or way to build rapport a new Quarterback and show your worth. Again, it’s only preseason but let’s keep track of his progress and see how he fairs. Also, please remember that the articles I bring to you leading up to your traditional NFL Fantasy Draft Season will be based on the Pros and Cons of players the Fantasy Football Community has split ideas on.

So before we get started – Thank you, and enjoy!

‘They say our love won’t pay the rent before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent. I guess that’s so, we don’t have a plot. But at least I’m sure of all the things we’ve got. Babe. I got you, babe. I got you, babe…’

I’m not sure many words can sum up how Washington’s Running Back merry-go-round so I thought I would have a crack at it in song form. But all I could think of was Groundhog Day. Over and over again. But it somewhat sums up the NFC East Franchise’s attempts to create a run game since Alfred Morris departed (which makes you think they probably should have gone went after him again in Free Agency right? Put your pride aside and sort it out). Underperforming players in an Offence that is always injury-riddled and erratic kind of remind me of my 1991 Ford Futura (gun-metal grey – can’t leave that out) Stationwagon. It wasn’t pretty. It was extremely cheap (I bought it in 2004, believe me, I could have offered my left shoe and got change for making an offer). At times I could drive it through a brick wall. But two out of every three times I tried to start the car it would choke and I’d end up catching a cab to work.

This offseason, Washington traded away their 1991 Ford Futura Stationwagon and in Jay Gruden’s coaching midlife crisis and picked up a Ferrari in the Draft, by grabbing highly rated Louisiana State University prospect Derrius Guice in the Second Round. This was considered a bargain considering Guice was considered a Round 1 pick. Guice, although not considered a great pass-catching back had ok hands, but is he a guy you can trust 20 times a game? I think most would say yes he is.

But, just when you think the needle is moving the right way…

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Canha/CSM/REX/Shutterstock (9786748l)
Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice (29) gets attention from training staff after being tackled during the NFL pre-season football game between the Washington Redskins and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeat the Redskins 26-17
NFL Redskins vs Patriots, Foxborough, USA – 09 Aug 2018

Say it ain’t so! He said he was fine! He walked off the field?! How did the team Doctors miss a torn freakin’ ACL?! Derrius Guice, our sweet little prince – not you too! Our underdog – has taken a knee…into surgery. That’s right our favorite offseason Rookie has been ruled out before he gets a shot at the ‘big time’. Devastating. Once again, the ‘Ferrari’ Run game in Washington looks to have hit the skids. So, here we are again, at the used car lot with an incredibly slick salesman trying to pitch us (or destroy you in a trade, feel free to make the correlation yourself), looking for whatever The Redskins have on their ‘parking lot’ of a depth chart to see if there’s anything we can pick up on the cheap to get us ‘from A-to-B’ for the 2018 season.

So it is with this disappointment in mind, my Pros And Cons article this week is based on everyone’s latest already beat-up run game and cheap first car; Robert Kelley.

Well, I guess we can go back to 2017’s break out Washington Redskin, Chris Thomps…oh. Are you telling me Chris Thompson likely won’t be ready to go until November? Hmm…

Right… Well, who then? Who is going to save Washington’s run game?

Cue the guitar riffs

‘Here I go again on my own. I’m going down the only road I’ve ever known. Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone. And I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wastin’ no more time’. Lights dim down. Curtain slowly peels back. Spotlight. It looks like…can it be? But he looks different. He almost looks…

FIT! IT’S FIT ROB KELLEY! HE’S HERE! Again. With sidekick ‘boy wonder’ Samaje Perine. Again. Hooray? I guess. Maybe?

It’s happened once again for The Redskins. What is a Football season without a Running Back merry-go-round in Washington? It doesn’t really matter how well or how poorly things are going for them – a Running Back game of ‘Guess Who’ is on the table and there only three options left. Robert Kelley, Samaje Perine, and Kapri Bibbs. Or is there?

Washington Redskins running back Rob Kelley (32) celebrates his touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Landover, Md., Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. The Redskins defeated the Packer 42-24. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Kelley, in a nutshell, has spent two years in the NFL and is a tale of two stories. As a Rookie, Kelley had a decent enough year to finish as the RB26 (in Standard Scoring) while going for 169-704-6 TDS at a decent 4.19 Yards Per Carry (YPC). There were three straight games with 20 or more carries where he finished with at least 97 yards or a TD. In games which they lost, he was still averaging over 12 carries a game which is probably more of a sign of how their matchup was being played out. And I don’t believe at the time (or now really) he would put his hand up and say that he is a ‘pass-catching’ back while Chris Thompson is around but Kelley did go 18-12-1 TD. So we know they will have a use for him more likely as the first and second down back.

Last year, probably wasn’t a glowing endorsement of what he was in 2016. Suffering knee and ankle issues for a fair chunk of the season, Washington put Kelley on the Injured Reserve list in Week 10 but at the time the 2-5 Redskins weren’t going anywhere fast. Toting the rock for an average 3.1 YPC on 66 Attempts, Kelley only once (Week 2) Rushed for over 35 Yards while never seeing over 14 Attempts Per Game. In fact, only three times in that time span did he have over 10 Carries. This is, uh…this is not good.

But, did you know:

  • In 2016, the Washington Offensive Line was ranked (from Pro Football Focus) as Ranked 12th overall at the start of the season and finished as 7th overall? Which should have been encouraging. Although in 2017 that Offensive Line went in as Ranked 12th overall and finished 21st and used 27 different combinations of players which was the second highest amount for the year. The highest? Super Bowl Champions Philadelphia with 28 different combinations! However, the big men up front are back as a Top 12 Rated unit for the 2018 season.
  • That Samaje Perine, unlike Robert Kelley, had over 14 Carries on eight separate games. But despite all the opportunities and Kelley being put on the IR list in Week 10, Perine still had one less Touchdown than Kelley. (For what it’s worth, Kelley only had three total Touchdowns for the year. This means Perine only had two…my math is good, it checks out). While we are playing tic-for-tac, Perine (two fumbles lost) did out fumble Kelley (zero fumbles) as well. They both did collectively have under 4.0 YPC (Kelley at 3.1 YPC, Perine at 3.45 YPC). So that’s something in common right? The Running Back group as a whole Ranked 28th overall. I don’t think after reading any of this you are either shocked or appalled. You probably know they were bad last year if you rostered either of them.
  • SPOILER ALERT – (yeah, ‘The Cons‘ section is still a while away before coming up, in case you hadn’t heard, Adrian Peterson signed for Washington earlier in the week). But did you also know that Adrian Peterson in three out of six games had less than 2.0 YPC when he kitted up for Arizona too? And failed to run for over 30 yards in those games also? And that Peterson had an average of 3.1 YPC over the past two years? Yeah, I don’t mention any of this later so it’s good to get it out of the way now. Thought it would sound better up here in the ‘did you know’ gimmick. Did it work?

Well, that’s some inspiring stuff, but can you please get on with…

The PROS – 

He’s actually not that bad in the End Zone…

In 2017, Kelley had 13 End Zone Rushing Attempts and converted three of those into Touchdowns which was the best efficiency out of all the Redskins Running Backs, even Perine himself had 24 Attempts for only one score. Peterson, while in Arizona went 16 Attempts for 1 TD. So at the moment, with a healthy Offensive Line coming back, Kelley is the better option when entering the opposition End Zone.

Alex Smith led Offenses…

Have a fairly efficient and productive run-game with him. Over the last three seasons, only once has an Alex Smith led Offense had a Running Back group finish outside of the Top 15 (9th, 15th, 6th). A Kirk Cousins led Washington however? Only once has His Running Back group finished inside the Top 20 in that same three-year timeframe (20th, 21st, 28th). Now I know what you’re thinking, it is extremely naive to think that moving any player into another season or system will ultimately transfer the same results – I get it. But Washington did move on from Cousins for a reason. 56 Passing Turnovers in three years? Compared to Smith who has had 28 Passing Turnovers? That’s twice as much! Even when running the ball himself, Cousins had 15 Fumbles compared to Smith’s 5. Put simply, Smith is a safer Quarterback for the Redskins, and fewer turnovers generally lead to more opportunity. This is good for the Running Back who gets the nod for whoever is…

Calling the Shots…

Jay Gruden has said little except for what we know. He has said Rob Kelley is the Starter and they have a bunch of guys in the mix also, but Kelley gets the first nod. We know that role could be limited to a first and second down role, and we know he is efficient toward the goal line. And Kelley’s commitment to his craft has seen him used a little different, which included a wheel route, which Gruden admits ‘I would (last year) never have given you an opportunity to run that’; which gives me cause for optimism. If the coach can trust him more, we should see him being used more (or differently at least) too. And he is the one you need to impress. Kelley just needs to take advantage of whatever chances he can get.

Wow, @TheBLeagueSays, scraping the bottom of the barrel if you need to reference Alex Smith and Jay Gruden to make a case for a Running Back. So let me hit you with some knowledge with…

The CONS – 

They have already outsourced…

Adrian Peterson makes his debut for the Redskins this Friday after signing a Veterans minimum deal for one year after hiding away in Free Agency this offseason. Ok then, so what do we expect from Peterson? I can’t imagine Peterson turned up for milk and cookies, and he is a physical specimen. How long it takes for Peterson to figure it out could be something else to ponder right? Wrong. Two weeks after being traded from New Orleans to Arizona; in his first game for the Cardinals Peterson went 26 Carries -134 Yards – 2 TDS. So in terms of settling into his new environment? I don’t think that will be an issue for Peterson. Only once in that time did Peterson have less than 14 Attempts in a game, although his season did cease early due to injury – his season finished in Week 11 in which he still finished with 99 all-purpose yards.

How hard can it be, really…

Well, currently the Washington Redskins currently sit with the 30th hardest Strength of Schedule for Running Backs in 2018. So currently, we have three Running Backs all currently coming off of poor seasons with less than 4.0 YPC each? Yeah, I don’t think this is a good start for any of them. Speaking of them…

Who is actually the Starter…

There are multiple websites which have their Depth Chart but I’m going to flat out assume that right now the one that matters is the Redskins actual chart which has Kelley behind Chris Thompson. And considering that Thompson may be out longer than anticipated then that may be a good thing for Kelley…

However. Other reputable news resources suggest it could be Peterson as the lead back already. Or Perine. Or still Thompson. Some have Kelley. But for the most part, going from the what Washington is telling us it’s Thompson first, Kelley second, Perine third.

This weekend will reveal more about how the Redskins will see (and more importantly use) their Backs, and give more clarity than anything else. It may well be a ‘wait and see’ approach, but if you are drafting this week that may not help you at all…

ADP – 

Before we crack into what the current climate is, let’s recap what 2017 looked like for Kelley. Last season Kelley was (in Standard Scoring, 12 Teams) drafted in the 6th Round on average as the RB29, 67th Overall. His ‘backup’, Samaje Perine was being Drafted in the 9th Round on average as the RB43 (112th Overall). What’s scary about this? Here is a list of Running Backs being selected in the same area in 2017: Doug Martin and Amir Abdullah (4th Round), Mike Gillislee, Bilal Powell, Adrian Peterson (5th Round), Paul Perkins, Frank Gore, LeGarrette Blount, Terrance West (7th Round), Danny Woodhead, Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jeremy Hill, Jamaal Williams (8th and 9th Rounds).

Only one player (Jamaal Williams) has improved his current ADP over the past year out of this list and a handful has either retired or can’t find a team (Just something to take notice of with your midround Running Back selection).

Anyway, this year Robert Kelley is traveling right now in the 11th Round (RB48, 129th Overall) and for comparison, Perine is sitting in the 12th Round (RB52, 144th Overall). Prior to Derrius Guice being injured, both Kelley and Perine were going in the 13th and 15th Rounds respectively. But a potential starting Running Back in the 11th or 12th Rounds? Something to ponder.

PROJECTION –

Carries; 170 / Yards Per Carry; 4.01 / Yards; 681 / TDS; 5 / Targets; 16 / Receptions; 10 / Yards Per Reception; 5.65 / Yards; 56.5 / TDS; 1 

SUMMARY – 

This is my final ‘Pros And Cons‘ player-centric article for the offseason. It feels about right to move on, we know who we like and we know who we are targetting already. We have done our research and have our ‘tiers and rankings’ sheets ready to go. We have listened to the podcasts, read the beat reporters write-ups. May have even read my work too! We are (or should be) as prepared as possible. So for one last time this offseason, here is where I stand;

Derrius Guice getting hurt and the lack of information on Kelley’s progress in camp and how he ‘performed’ last season had me interested enough to look into this scenario. The worst case scenario is that you can cut him because you didn’t spend much to get him in your draft. The best case scenario is that he outperforms his ADP and you feel good going forward – or trade him high.

I could tell you that Adrian Peterson is now a threat and sure, based on his career he could be. But to be fair since 2015 he hasn’t really done much, let alone be consistent. I could tell you that Byron Marshall or Kapri Bibbs could step up and be a thing. But to be fair, Bibbs showed up in his last in-season outing and before that was rostered nowhere to start the year and Marshall could get cut. Perine however… Perine, they invested a Draft Pick in last year and maybe, just maybe they could look for him to take a step forward. He was ok (being really nice here…) in his first year and part of me thinks that his season looked much worse due to the Running Back class he will be associated with (Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt) was fantastic, or maybe he just isn’t that good. Chris Thompson is clearly their best Running Back but we saw what happened when his workload increased and without a slew of talented hands on the depth chart; I can’t imagine seeing him not being utilized heavily AND being protected at the same time – the coaching staff does not want a repeat of last year.

So. Your 11th Round question is: What do we do here?

I went into this thinking about nothing but opportunity. What I wanted to find out more than anything was ‘what are the actual Pros And Cons’ for Robert Kelley and to be honest there isn’t a whole lot to say about either side. I wanted to come up with some reason for picking up Kelley over the next week or let him slide completely until you could possibly justify it but I just can’t. Kenny Stills is sitting pretty in the 11th Round and I’d much prefer him. Then again, so is DeVante Parker and Doug Martin and to be honest I’d rather take a shot at Kelley here. It will all depend on your roster construct and if you feel like he is worth the spot.

This situation reminds me of Kroger brand Vanilla Ice Cream; you’re not going out of your way to buy it, but if you’re desperate and it’s on the table and no one is around to watch you, you may pick that bowl up and shamefully have a bite. Robert Kelley is the best option for Washington right now, and that feeling may fade more when Chris Thompson returns. And that is why I side with The Cons here. If you draft Kelley, expect the worst. It will be easier to remain less disappointed if he fails. If he doesn’t fail horribly, maybe he even becomes serviceable a few times (Bye Rounds or even Best Ball), then get another bowl of ice cream and appreciate the late-round bargain that will probably give you cramps later in the evening…

I want to thank you for getting this far and taking in everything I have presented. You can as always follow and find me on Twitter at @TheBLeagueSays and offer any view or conversation about this. Let’s all get better together!

Once again, Thank you and Enjoy!

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