NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott yesterday for the first six games of the 2017 season. Immediately these became my least favorite words: “six games”.
As a Cowboys fan and avid Elliott drafter, meaning – if available-I take him, I was devastated. What does this do to the fantasy world? If you have him already or if you planned on drafting him, what should you do? An appeal is expected to be filed, and this may end up in court a-la Tom Brady. Going forward let’s just assume he is out for all six games.
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Already an owner of Zeke in one of my leagues this season, I went into panic mode initially. (Quite frankly Zeke IS my team in this league.) Team owners started expressing interest in trading for him. This league is unique however, with blind bidding, and four rounds of waiver wire pickups. Which coincidentally ended last night. I had one roster spot to fill and $60 to spend, so I bid it all on Alfred Morris, and I got him.
That made me feel pretty good. Morris is currently behind Darren McFadden on the depth chart, but I have a feeling by week one of the regular season that will change. Just a hunch on my part, but if you want to go after McFadden as the handcuff, that is a good contingency plan as well.
In 2016 Morris and McFadden only combined for 73 carries and 330 rushing yards. Mostly due to the constant over-eating of Zeke. Ronnie Hillman is third on the depth chart now, but he probably doesn’t factor into the offensive plans that much. Is it safe to think they could come in and perform close to Elliott’s standards? Probably not.
The highly touted offensive line lost star Doug Free to retirement and is going to rely on La’el Collins to contribute immediately sliding into the tackle spot. Additionally, Tyron Smith has been shut down due to nagging back injuries. Factor in the fact that the Cowboys have the toughest strength-of-schedule against the run over the first five games of the season, according to Fantasyscout.com, and I could see how you may want to avoid the whole situation. Personally, I live in the world of “what if?”, I mean this is fantasy football, right? What if Morris or McFadden can come in and rush for 450 yards and six touchdowns in those games? Is that worth it?
If you are in a redraft league that has not drafted yet, and you were looking to draft Elliott, what are your options?
In my two redraft leagues, which have not drafted yet, I have the 6th and 8th picks. I had conceded that I would not get Elliott. Oh, how a six-game suspension can change things because now I am sure he will be there. Early indications are he is falling to the lower second, early third round. I do not think I will take him in the first round, but who knows? If I do take him, I will surely land whoever is first on the depth chart in the later rounds, even if I have to reach because someone could try to thwart my strategy. Surely, these guys ADP will go up slightly, with McFadden currently being taken in the 11th round, and Morris in the 12th. Getting Zeke in the third and one of these two in the 10th round could be a good strategy.
Say you are in a redraft league that drafted already, and you have Zeke. Unless it’s an eight-team league, Morris and McFadden are probably not on the waiver wire. Hopefully, you have a top RB2, but if not, you could try trading Elliott, or trading for Morris or McFadden. Without another elite running back, or the handcuff, you should probably avoid the situation.
In Dynasty format, if you drafted Zeke last season, you should definitely keep him. And if you have another top-tier running back, just ride it out. Prepare for the onslaught in the second half of the season. If your other backs are not that great, then maybe you should try to add one of this years’ top rookies, like Leonard Fournette, or Christian McCaffrey. In addition, you could pick up one of the handcuffs. Suppose your dynasty league is starting this year, and you planned on drafting Elliott. His value has
Suppose your dynasty league is starting this year, and you planned on drafting Elliott. His value has fallen to $35 according to Fantasy Pros. At that price, you should absolutely take him. Even if it gets up to about $50 because Dynasty is for the long haul and six games will end up being a small fraction of his overall career. Grabbing one of the aforementioned rookies, or another top veteran that is available in your league could be a good option.
To me, fantasy football is not about how you start, but how you finish. Just like the NFL. You can overcome a rough start, get hot at the right time, and win it all. Getting a fresh Ezekiel Elliott back midway through the season could be just what you need to save your season.
Chances are your team is significantly different from the day you drafted it, and an increase in your point total that Zeke will surely provide could be just what you need to get into the playoffs! Go ahead and take Zeke and your preference of McFadden or Morris. Draft intelligently with all your other picks, and you could be sitting pretty heading into the Fantasy playoffs!