May 13 (UPI) -- He literally ran with the Washington Redskins' running back job last season as a rookie. Now Rob Kelley enters his 2017 campaign with the leading role.
Kelley, an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, ran for 704 yards and six scores on 168 carries in 15 games last season. He had nine starts for the Redskins, averaging 4.2 yards per tote.
CSN Mid Atlantic reported Friday that team sources said they have been "impressed" by Kelley's offseason work.
The Redskins have had a patchwork backfield since losing Alfred Morris in 2016. Morris began his career with the franchise with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He had a lackluster 2015, but the franchise hasn't been able to find an adequate replacement since his departure to the Dallas Cowboys.
Enter "Fat" Rob Kelley.
Matt Jones looked to be an electric starting option, but his lack of ball security has hurt his reputation among coaches. Jones, 24, averaged 4.6 yards per carry in seven starts last season, but has fumbled eight times in 20 career games. Jones is also signed through 2018
For fantasy football purposes, expect Kelley to start the season as the lead back, being spelled by Perine and Jones, if Jones is still on its roster by then.
In April, NFL.com reported that the Redskins were trying to trade Jones, a Florida product entering his third season.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden raved about Kelley before the draft.
"Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley," Gruden told CSN Mid Atlantic in March. "I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That's a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play."
Kelley, 24, is set up to be a 2018 restricted free agent. He had offseason knee surgery in January. He suffered the right-knee ailment in the Redskins' Week 16 win against the Chicago Bears and wore a brace for its Week 17 battle with the New York Giants.
Keep Kelley in mind as a late-round depth option for a wide-receiver heavy squad this year during your fantasy football draft. He could also be employed as a flex play in deep leagues.