Last month at the NFL Combine, Chip Kelly expressed interest in Bruce Ellington and the "interesting things" he brings to the table. Ellington is listed as a wide receiver, but also works as a returner, and occasionally in a running back role. Jim Tomsula and Geep Chryst seemed to have little interest in doing a whole lot with him. He got some opportunities his first year under Jim Harbaugh, but even then it was still limited to a certain degree.
Chip Kelly is sufficiently creative that opportunities could arise, and it opens the door for some intriguing opportunities with Ellington. And that has fantasy football advice columns recommending Ellington as a potential sleeper. Rotoviz is an intriguing site that does a lot of work on dynasty league advice. They recently put together an article about Ellington titled, "3 reasons you should stash Bruce Ellington in Dynasty."
1. Ellington's athleticism
The article points to Ellington's SPARQ score, which attempts to measure athleticism. It is something the Seattle Seahawks focus on, and I highly recommend giving this Field Gulls article a read to learn a little more about it. In terms of that measurement, Ellington ranked out higher than the likes of Brandin Cooks and Odell Beckham, Jr. coming out of college.
2. Efficiency in college
Ellington did not put up dominant numbers in college, but his yards per target were strong. For wide receivers drafted in the first four rounds between 2010 and 2014, the average yards per target in their final college season as 9.8. Ellington's yards per target over his combined final two seasons was 10.9. I don't know what the final two seasons number is for the first four rounds between 2010 an 2014, so it's obviously not a perfect comparison.
They also included a random stat that doesn't really tell us a lot, but I find amusing because it's so random:
As far as his NFL production, Ellington has mostly remained off fantasy radars, but that doesn't mean he hasn't flashed. In fact, in his rookie campaign of 2014, the 49ers' last season under Jim Harbaugh, Ellington scored touchdowns as a runner and receiver, in addition to accumulating 614 kick return yards and 188 punt return yards. Not too bad, right?
I searched Pro Football Reference for rookie receivers with a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown, and at least 100 punt return yards and 100 kick return yards. Since the merger, only three rookie receivers have accomplished that: Hall of Famer Tim Brown, Tavon Austin, and Bruce Ellington. Hmmmm.
I don't think "Hmmmm" is really necessary, but make of it what you want.
3. Chip Kelly's intrigue
Offseason coach and GM talk about players is something we take with a huge grain of salt. That being said, Kelly does use three wide receivers extensively, the team might lose Anquan Boldin to free agency, and after Torrey Smith, there are plenty of questions. There will be opportunities, and Ellington's diverse skill-set would seemingly appeal to Chip Kelly.
It is worth noting that Ellington is not exactly the kind of bigger receiver Kelly seemed to like in Philadelphia. However, if the team mixes him into a variety of other roles, that might not be that big a deal this fall. And so, maybe that's more reason we see Ellington mixed into a variety of roles on offense.
Will any of this matter when September gets here? Who really knows. But it does seem to make sense that Ellington would be the kind of player that benefits from Chip Kelly's offense. This all depends in part on the quarterback situation, and what Kelly can get going with this group, but if you're looking for a deep sleeper, Ellington makes as much sense as anybody.