Washington will be without their top running back when facing Cincinnati in London.
The team announced Friday that Matt Jones will be out for this game thanks to a knee injury suffered during the team’s Week 7 loss to Detroit. Jones rushed 10 times for 27 yards in that game while also losing a fumble.
That came one week after Jones had his biggest game of the season, rushing 16 times for 135 yards and a touchdown in Washington's Week 6 win over Philadelphia. In seven games this season, Jones has 99 rushes for 460 yards (4.6 avg) and three scores to go with eight catches for 73 yards. Since 2015, Washington is 6-0 in games which Jones tops 70 all-purpose yards.
While Jones has had his issues, there’s been no debating he’s the best back Washington has. With him out, the backfield will now feature Chris Thompson and Robert Kelly.
Thompson is more of a passing down back who has 22 catches for 184 yards and one score this season. He also has 38 carries for 193 yards (5.1 avg.) and one score.
If second-year running back Matt Jones (knee) is unable to play this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Washington Redskins will turn to rookie Robert Kelley “in the lead role” in the backfield with Chis Thompson complementing him.
We now know Jones will be out and it seems the rookie out of Tulane who has 17 carries for 103 yards (6.1 avg.) to go with a one-yard touchdown catch this season will be taking over the starting job. Washington really likes what they have in Kelly, enough that he appears to be the main back on Sunday with Thompson being the change-of-pace guy.
Another name to watch out for is Mack Brown, who was called up from Washington’s practice squad this week and could be active on Sunday. Brown spent time on the team’s practice squad last year as well and has never played in the regular season. An international game might not be the best time for a player to get his first regular-season action, but that could be the case for Brown.
The former Florida star did make a push for a roster spot with 149 rushing yards in the preseason finale and an NFL-high 227 rushing yards over the entire 2016 preseason, but he was cut in favor of Kelley and Thompson.
Brown and Kelly are more straight-line runners who will do the bulk of their damage between the tackles. Those are the kinds of backs Cincinnati’s defense has done well against this season. It’s the versatile, dual-threat backs who can catch passes and do damage outside of the tackles that really give this Bengals’ defense trouble.
So while Kelly may be the starter on Sunday, Thompson is the guy who could really give Cincinnati fits. In terms of fantasy football, the four highest-scoring backs this season vs Cincinnati are Ezekiel Elliott, DeAngelo Williams, James White, and Matt Forte. Those backs combined for 20 catches for 181 yards and three scoring grabs.
Losing Jones will hurt Washington’s offense, but probably not enough that it will be the difference in who wins this game.