Joshua Kelley hopes that a strong preseason can push him into the No. 2 running back role with the Chargers. Problem is, he had a strong preseason as a rookie and even carried it into his first two games, then absolutely self-combusted. From Week 3 on, Kelley averaged 3.0 yards per rush, scored one measly touchdown, and eventually became a regular on the inactive list. The Chargers drafted physical back Larry Rountree III and still have Justin Jackson on the roster, so Kelley has plenty of competition. Whoever wins the role behind Ekeler will be worth a bench spot in Fantasy, but until it's known who it'll be, drafters shouldn't spend a pick before Round 12 on any of them.
Kelley could be competing for the final running back spot with 2020 sixth-round pick Larry Rountree, Daniel Popper of The Athletic reports. The presumed hierarchy according to Popper would see Austin Ekeler handle most of the work out of the backfield with Justin Jackson filling in occasionally as a change-of-pace option. That would leave Kelley and Rountree in an ultra-utility capacity, but the recent sixth-round pick profiles a bit better as a goal-line threat, something the Chargers seemingly lack at the moment. Kelley was a major factor at the start of his rookie season but dramatically tailed off toward the end of the year, finishing as a healthy scratch in two of the final four games. Considering Rountree also has experience playing special teams throughout college, it's entirely possible Kelley may be on the outside looking in when it comes to the running back depth chart.
Kelley, who was a healthy scratch in two of the Chargers' final four games, finished his rookie season with 502 total yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. Kelley's fall from fantasy grace came precipitously as the 23-year-old saw 47 touches in his first three games as a complement to Austin Ekeler before yielding time to Justin Jackson and then Kalen Ballage as the season progressed. By the time Ekeler (quad) returned from his multi-month absence, Kelley had completely fallen out of the rotation in favor of Ballage despite the two having nearly indistinguishably modest yards-per-carry averages. Looking ahead, the UCLA product could have a chance to increase his role in his second NFL season with a new coaching regime in store. That the Chargers have more invested in Kelley (a 2020 fourth-rounder) compared to Jackson and Ballage should at least guarantee him a spot on the active roster next season. However, until further context with regard to the team's 2021 offensive scheme and personnel emerges, it's hard to gauge whether Kelley will be a depth piece like he was toward the end of his rookie season or a crucial factor in the rotation, as he was early on.
Kelley (coach's decision) is inactive heading into Sunday's game against the Broncos, Gilbert Manzano of The Orange County Register reports. Los Angeles will roll with Kalen Ballage and Justin Jackson as secondary backs behind Austin Ekeler during a Week 16 AFC West clash. Kelley's 3.2 yards-per-carry average is uninspiring, while his two lost fumbles on the season motivate the Chargers' coaching staff to search elsewhere for more reliable options.
Kelley carried the ball two times for eight yards in Thursday's 30-27 win over the Raiders. Kelley did next to nothing in this contest largely as a byproduct of just five offensive snaps. The return of Austin Ekeler and emergence of Kalen Ballage has made the rookie running back simply an afterthought, and it's hard to imagine that changing with just two games left to play, especially considering Kelley was a healthy inactive just one game prior.
Kelley is active for Thursday's game against the Raiders, Daniel Popper of The Athletic reports. Kelley was a healthy scratch for last week's win over the Falcons, but he'll return to the lineup for Week 15, taking the place of Justin Jackson. When Jackson suited up last week, he saw just two carries for eight yards, so it's unclear what sort of role Kelley will have in the offense. He'll join Austin Ekeler and Kalen Ballage as healthy running backs for the divisional clash.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/12||@Washington Football Team||3||14.24|
|3||09/26||@Kansas City Chiefs||25||19.32|
|4||10/04||Las Vegas Raiders||29||22.38|
|8||10/31||New England Patriots||21||18.88|
|14||12/12||New York Giants||17||17.50|
|15||12/16||Kansas City Chiefs||25||19.32|
|18||01/09||@Las Vegas Raiders||29||22.38|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||111||354||2||23||148||0||57|