First things first: Chad Kelly was just released by the Denver Broncos. He’s currently without a team. He had one-too-many Dilly Dillies at Von Miller’s Halloween party, and later was chased off of a different homeowner’s property with a vacuum cleaner tube.
This is The Fantasy Authority, not The Onion. You read all of that correctly.
He also, unfortunately, has a rap song from yester-year creatively titled “Chad Kelly” (with lyrical gems like “My momma birthed out a winner | I’m just looking for dinner”) and he was the 2017 NFL draft’s Mr. Irrelevant.
Red flags? Johnny Manziel just hurt his back attempting to hold all of Chad Kelly’s beers.
Here’s the thing, though: Chad Kelly needs to be on your dynasty roster. Add him or trade for him. Now.
Before we square that circle with an actual “why,” let’s pivot to something seemingly entirely off-topic (and I promise, I will land this plane).
Which Internet Browser Are You Using Right Now?
Did you know that employees who use Firefox and Chrome are significantly more productive on the job than employees who use Internet Explorer or Safari?
It’s an interesting case study discussed by Adam Grant in a Ted Talk, one originally reported on by Cornerstone OnDemand. Do employees who use Firefox or Chrome have superior technical skills to those who use IE or Safari? Do they have faster average typing speed? Have they achieved some higher degree of education?
The browser choice signifies ambition. Rather than just accepting what was handed to them, Chrome and Firefox users had to doubt the default option and show some initiative to search for, install, and try a new browser. So, interestingly, the choice of Internet browser tends to reveal which employees naturally have more initiative. They tend to be more productive and stay on the job 15% longer than those who use IE or Safari.
So, in that vein of original thinking and going off the beaten path, maybe it’s time to zig when the rest of fantasyland is zagging on one Swag Kelly.
Funny thing, though – most NFL front offices are IE and Safari users, especially in draft evaluations. They stick with the same old traditional models of thinking and drafting players because it’s a well-defined process and it’s safe. Only the Broncos, after drafting Paxton Lynch in the first round the year before, took a shot on Chad Kelly. And, for that matter, it was with the final pick in the draft. If this guy is so good, why did he last until the final pick in 2017?
Kelly was a four-star, dual threat top recruit at Clemson. He was the first high school QB in the state of New York to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 more in the same season. So far, so good. But to say he wasn’t a people person would be an understatement. Before even arriving at Clemson, he tweeted to the incumbent starter, “You’re on the bench for a reason. And I come soon!” Now, in giving Kelly some retroactive awesomeness credit here, that does sound exactly like something Khabib Nurmagomedov might say. Nonetheless, Kelly had several run-ins with coaches and teammates. He screamed at coaches a halftime of a game, and after his benching in the second half of that game, head coach Dabo Swinney announced, “Chad Kelly is now no longer a member of the Tigers…(Kelly showed) a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the values of our program.”
Kelly went on to what’s known as “Last Chance University,” East Mississippi Community College, where he took the team to an undefeated season and championship…after which he got into a nightclub brawl. He later finished his college career at Ole Miss.
Plus, Kelly’s high school and college injury list looks like something Mick Foley would be proud of: ACL tear in 2013, then in 2016 a sports hernia, AC sprain in his throwing shoulder, and a lateral meniscus tear. He also spent 2017 with the Broncos on IR.
So, it’s not too hard to see why he lasted until the final pick of the draft.
That’s the bad and the ugly. Ready for the good?
If you’re into highlight reels, check this one out. His pocket presence in the Alabama game and wheels in the Georgia matchup at the 4:30 mark of this clip are particularly fun.
The 2017 edition of Matt Waldman’s RSP cites Bill Polian, Hall-of-Fame GM of the Peyton Manning-era Colts, as saying Kelly was the most talented QB in the 2017 class. That was over Mahomes, Watson, and Trubisky. Waldman, like any analyst, has his hits and his misses, but while everyone was going crazy over Watson’s six-game stretch of glory last season, Waldman noted that his top-ranked QB in that class was the unproven Patrick Mahomes. How’d that one work out in 2018?
Waldman’s #2 ranked QB? Chad Kelly.
The scouting summary on Kelly was that while he doesn’t have the arm strength of Mahomes (because, really, who does?), Kelly still throws a great deep ball and his eyes are always downfield. Furthermore, his college tape showed he was an excellent improviser, his scrambling and RPO ability was on par with DeSean Watson, and he appeared the best decision-maker and pocket commander in the class.
Until this latest bizarre off-field incident in Colorado, Kelly’s initial NFL reports were positive. He was the proverbial “first guy to show up, last to leave” team meetings. He threw frozen ropes in practice while first-rounder Paxton Lynch was focusing on his Fortnite career. This past training camp in the summer of 2018, Kelly beat the brakes off of Lynch in the Denver QB competition and sent John Elway’s first-round pick packing, off to the waiver wire.
Broncos fans were so rabid for Kelly that when he subbed in for Case Keenum just to take a knee before halftime vs. the Rams, the Mile High crowd gave him a standing O.
And by the way, in terms of football pedigree, he’s also the nephew of HOFer Jim Kelly.
State of the League Address
In dynasty leagues, if you want him, trade for him immediately. If you own him? Hold. Here’s why:
Several teams were reportedly frustrated with Denver for selecting Kelly with the final pick, as they were hoping he’d fall out of the draft entirely, which would have made him an undrafted free agent. Our current era of the NFL skews the rules to favor quarterbacks. Scoring is up. TV ratings are up. Young, flashy quarterbacks are the hottest ticket among NFL front offices. The 49ers had four prime time games slated this season thanks to Jimmy G. Garappolo goes down? Wouldn’t you know it, Patrick Mahomes gets flexed into back-to-back Sunday Night Football games.
The NFL has 32 teams. The NFL does not have 32 quality starting quarterbacks. Does anyone reading this honestly believe that every single team is going to look down their nose and pass on Chad Kelly now that he’s been released?
If it were a more currently thorny societal issue like domestic violence or anthem protesting, maybe. But a drunken trespassing charge, stemming from a teammate’s party? The rebuilding and relocating Raiders are about ready to give up on Derek Carr and his panic feet. The Jacksonville Jaguars have maybe the most talented defense in the league and they benched Blake Bortles for Cody Kessler. The Patriots blew their Tom Brady succession plan by dealing away Jimmy G for peanuts (and I know, I know, every semi-interesting free agent is always projected to go to the Patriots every year).
Some team out there will chalk this incident up to youth and immaturity and give Chad Kelly a shot. If any team sees him as a potential franchise QB with the right infrastructure, he will find a new home. As soon as he does, and if he sees playing time and has that first big game, we’re going to see about a 10X jump in his dynasty value. So, if you own him, don’t even think about trading him or packaging him in a deal until he plays.
On the flip side, if you’re looking to acquire him, particularly in superflex, do it now. While it would have been fun to watch Kelly throw to Sutton and Hamilton in Denver, his Broncos release is actually great news if you’re looking to acquire him. His price will likely never be lower. He’s better than any QB in an ever-weakening 2019 class. Why not offer a random mid-to-late round pick to land a potentially Mahomes-level score?
Be that Chrome user, be that Firefox user – go the extra mile here and get Swag Kelly on your team. He’ll never be cheaper. With the upside he holds, it’s the ultra-rare dynasty asset which is minimal cost, minimal risk, and sky-high upside.
For those who missed out on Mahomes, it’s not often that the fantasy gods give us a mulligan.