At this point in the season, there are two different types of waiver wire additions. There’s A) the ones that will help the team immediately if there’s a need for a bye week or injury replacement or B) ones that are as valuable in the short run but could become viable starters in the future.
Most owners are going to be fighting for players from group A. In most situations, teams are going to have to fight at least until the end of November to secure a playoff spot, and with every week after Week 8 being critical, it’s hard to justify sacrificing a roster spot for a player that isn’t going to help for at least a couple of weeks.
But for the owners in firm control of their playoff destiny and looking ahead for future value, look no further than Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley.
Robert who? Yes, there are a lot of reasons to doubt Kelley’s abilities. For one, he’s pretty old for a rookie. At 24 years old, which he just turned in October, he’s actually the same age as Le’Veon Bell, who is currently in his fourth NFL season. Kelley is on the older side for a first-year player because he played all four of his eligible years in college and redshirted due to injury in 2014. That nearly pushed his NFL debut back to his mid-20’s.
Secondly, Kelley’s numbers really weren’t all that impressive while he was at Tulane. In his collegiate career, he never had more than 100 rushing attempt and never gained more than 420 yards in a single season. As a member of the Green Wave, Kelley averaged 4.0 yards per carry, but he wasn’t really used as a goal-line back either because he didn’t record too many touchdowns. Kelley finished his college career with just six rushing scores.
Why should fantasy owners add a guy who wasn’t even a great college football fantasy play? Well for one, this isn’t college anymore, and Kelley is proving to be a valuable asset to Washington’s running game.
In his first NFL game as a starter, he shined, rushing for 87 yards on 21 carries and scoring a touchdown. It’s still a small sample size, but through six NFL games, he has 190 yards, a score and is averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
One thing Kelley did do well at Tulane was being used as a receiver. He actually accumulated 727 more receiving yards in college than he did rushing yards, and including his receiving touchdowns, Kelley scored 12 times in 49 collegiate games.
He only has one reception at the NFL level in six games, but if he continues to see over 40 snaps per week, which he did do Sunday against the Bengals, Kelley should become a part of the Washington passing attack.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to that becoming a reality is fellow running back Matt Jones. The second-year back missed Week 8 due to a knee injury, which opened the door for Kelley to receive 20-plus touches. Washington will be on a bye next week, so Jones is going to have an opportunity to heal and then be ready for Week 10. But there’s enough uncertainty around Jones’ return to make Kelley a top waiver wire target.
After the bye, Washington will face Minnesota and Green Bay, two teams that have been particularly tough against the run. It’s probably unwise to start him then, but depending on how things shake out over the next three weeks, Kelley could be a great play the following week against Dallas. At that point, the schedule gets a lot easier, and if all goes well, Kelley could be a potential FLEX consideration come playoff time.
If owners can wait that long to feel his impact, make Kelley the top waiver wire addition this week.