If you draft Todd Gurley in fantasy this year, John Kelly is practically a must-own as the primary handcuff.
As the NFL moved toward the passing game and committee backfields, drafting the backup to your top running back (his handcuff) diminished as a good strategy. But 2017 brought a re-emergence of the running back, with three of the top four scorers in ESPN leagues (default PPR scoring) coming from the position.
Atop that list of running backs was Todd Gurley, who topped 1,300 yards on the ground, caught 64 passes for 788 yards and scored 19 total touchdowns on his way to being the highest-scoring player in fantasy. Gurley has been or will be the No.1 overall pick in a lot fantasy drafts this year, so finding his handcuff will be on the radar for a lot of those who draft him.
John Kelly was drafted in the sixth round (No. 176 overall) out of Tennessee in April. He has been in a theoretical competition with Malcolm Brown for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. But the rookie appears to be clearly seizing the job.
Kelly finished Saturday’s game against the Houston Texans, as Gurley rested, with 15 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns. His first score was a fairly simple four-yard run. But his 15-yard touchdown jaunt late in the third quarter was a thing of beauty and power, as he pinballed through the second level of the Texans’ defense .
Naturally, the fantasy football community took notice.
Kelly is well down the way in the fantasy rankings, at RB78 and on Fantasy Pros.com’s ADP (average draft position) consensus. So finding a cheat sheet that even has his name on it might prove difficult, but there’s value to be mined there.
If Gurley goes down with a major injury this year, the championship hopes of his fantasy owners will necessarily fall with him. But Kelly is a nice insurance policy, and with his status as the primary backup now a mere formality he’s a priority handcuff for Gurley owners. Even for non-Gurley owners, there’s some appeal to drafting Kelly as a RB6 in a 12-team league.