It is a crowded running back room behind Austin Ekeler, and for now, Kelley looks like the best bet to win the No. 2 job. Kelley took that job over down the stretch in 2022 and played at least one-third of the snaps in each of the Chargers' last six games. At the very least, Kelley is worthy of a late-round pick just in case something happens to the 28-year-old Ekeler, but there's also a possibility he carves out a bigger role if Kellen Moore decides to split touches more like he did in Dallas with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Kelley heads to training camp as the favorite for the Chargers’ No. 2 RB job. He’ll need to hold off 2022 fourth-rounder Isaiah Spiller.
If he does, Kelley will be worth rostering in deeper fantasy leagues as the Austin Ekeler handcuff. Just don’t expect any reliable fantasy value as long as Ekeler is healthy.
What We Learned Last YearKelley finished second among Chargers RBs in carries (69), rushing yards (287) and rushing TDs (2), behind Austin Ekeler but ahead of Sony Michel, Isaiah Spiller, and Larry Rountree.That, of course, wasn’t enough to make Kelley a fantasy asset. He finished 75th among RBs in PPR points per game and 72nd in non-PPR points per game.Kelley never topped 10 carries in a game last year and topped five carries just five times.Kelley set career highs in Pro Football Focus rushing grade and elusive rating last year.But he still ranked just 49th in rushing grade and 44th in elusive rating among 67 RBs with 50+ carries.
What to Expect in 2023:Austin Ekeler and the Chargers agreed to a restructured contract in May that keeps him in town for 2023.The Chargers did not re-sign Sony Michel but return Isaiah Spiller and Larry Rountree. Kelley heads to training camp as the favorite for the No. 2 RB job. But Spiller could make a run at him in his second NFL season. And the Chargers could still add competition.
Kelley is entering his fourth NFL season in a situational/backup role behind Austin Ekeler. The 2020 fourth-round pick has yet to clear 134 touches in a season, but he took a leap forward as a rusher last season, posting career-best marks in yards per carry (4.16) and yards after contact (2.07). Kelley's overall efficiency hasn't been great (which aligns with his collegiate profile), but he could slide into 15-plus touches per game in a good offense if 28-year-old Ekeler were to miss time. The 25-year-old is without standalone fantasy value but is a fine bench hold in deeper leagues.