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Jay Gruden approves of Robert Kelley as RB1: 'He's fun to watch'

Jay Gruden approves of Robert Kelley as RB1: 'He's fun to watch'

Things change quick in the NFL.

Less than a month ago, Matt Jones rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown in a win against the Eagles. The second-year runner looked well on his way to a strong season for Washington. 

Then, following a bout with fumbleitis in Detroit and a knee injury that forced him out of action in London, Jones lost his job to undrafted rookie Robert Kelley. After two games with Kelley as the starter, the job looks like his to keep.

"He’s fun to watch, and he’s going to get better and better," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Kelley after the rookie ran for nearly100 yards in a win over Minnesota. 

RELATED: THE BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' WEEK 10 WIN

The coach is right - Kelley is fun to watch. The Tulane product has a knack for making the first tackler miss, a quick shift in his hips and, perhaps most importantly, has been secure with the ball on every one of his NFL carries.

"I thought he ran really, really well," Washington QB Kirk Cousins said of Kelley. 

"I thought he did the same thing against the Bengals. He just picked up where he left off and was phenomenal all day. I was very pleased with the way he ran the football and I can’t say enough good things about him, his effort, the way he produced for us and his approach to the game."

HIgh praise from Cousins, yet deserved. In his last two games - both starts with Jones inactive — Kelley has run for 194 yards and more than 4 yards-per-carry. Most important for Kelley, he rarely loses yards. His run style and ability to make tacklers miss often nets the Washington offense at least a one or two-yard gain even when runs look stuffed from the snap.

"You try and minimize the negative runs. That’s something Coach Gruden talks about a lot to make sure that I get positive runs," Kelley said. "If I get just one yard, stay positive. You can’t go broke with a positive."

Kelley will continue to get the ball for Washington as long as he keeps his approach simple. Multiple times against the Vikings, Kelley broke 10+yard runs, and they all started with making a defender miss. For the season, Kelley averages 3.6 yards per carry after contact, an impressive total.

Leaving the field on Sunday, Kelley held a football under his arm (full video above).

He explained that he wanted to keep that ball for his collection, but he added that it would have been nice to get to 100 yards instead of finishing the game with 97.

"I feel good," Kelley said. "I got 97 yards. I don’t care as long as we got the win with it. I could have had 12 yards and it wouldn’t matter.”

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM REDSKINS' WIN OVER VIKINGS

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

The Week 12 fantasy football rankings are out -- but when it comes to Thanksgiving Day, everyone wants some player regardless of where they slot overall. Don't overthink it and take a lesser player, but for those on the fence or simply looking for Thursday action, here are some recommendations for all three games.

Vikings @ Lions

Obvious: Vikings -- Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs... running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are in the RB2/Flex discussion for most, but good luck picking between them; Lions -- Wide receiver Golden Tate and ... wide receiver Marvin Jones works in three-WR formats while quarterback Matthew Stafford is No. 14 among passers this week.

Start: Case Keenum averaged 19.3 points over the last four games while the Lions have allowed ample points to fantasy quarterbacks in that stretch, though only three touchdown passes. Having Thielen and Diggs up the potential for Keenum, who is QB17 in the Week 12 rankings. That's comparable with Matthew Stafford (QB14), Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett and ahead of Derek Carr.

Add: Not sure there's any fringe skill player worth taking a flyer on so take a look at Vikings kicker Kai Forbath. He's attempted at least three field goals in four of his last five games and he kicked five extra points in the lone exception. ... Some will start Ameer Abdullah based on their options, but just know the Vikings allow the second fewest points to fantasy tight ends this season.

Chargers @ Cowboys

Obvious: Chargers -- running back Melvin Gordon and wide receiver Keenan Allen; Cowboys -- Wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back Alfred Morris and... quarterback Dak Prescott, though his production is down without running back Ezekiel Elliott and left tackle Tyron Smith.

Start: This hasn't been a vintage Philip Rivers season, but he's coming off his best performance (251 yards, two touchdown passes) since Week 5. The Cowboys aren't that special in the secondary and have surrendered two touchdown passes in three consecutive games. At QB13, he's on the cusp of QB1 status in 12-team leagues. 

Add: Kickers Nick Novak (Chargers) and Mike Nugent (Cowboys) are 15th and 16th respectively. So, there's that. 

Giants @ Redskins

The obvious: Giants -- tight end Evan Engram and... running back Orleans Darkwa is a viable RB2 option against a Redskins defense giving up gobs of yards on the ground; Redskins -- quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight Vernon Davis and...running back Samaje Perine is RB12 this week, though listed as questionable on the injury report with a finger issue.

Start: Jordan Reed is out for a fourth consecutive game, meaning Vernon Davis once again is Washington's main tight end. While he hasn't provided wow performances like Reed at his Pro Bowl best, Davis has been good for a solid 8-11 since taking on a larger role starting in Week 3. This could be his best statistical week of the season. The Giants allow the most points to fantasy tight ends on the season. Opposing tight ends scored a touchdown in each of the first 10 games before the streak snapped Sunday.

RELATED: NEW AND IMPROVED WEEK 12 FANTASY RANKINGS

Add: Josh Doctson is only owned in 55 percent of leagues on CBS even though he's moved into the role of Washington's top outside receiver. The second-year player had four receptions for 81 yards in Sunday's overtime loss, though all the production came in the first half. Consistency is the next step, but Kirk Cousins is showing more and more confidence in the 6'3" target especially on 50-50 balls. Doctson is WR36 in my Week 12 rankings, meaning he's worth starting consideration in three-WR formats regardless.