Ezekiel Elliott is currently fourth among running backs in fantasy points per game (18.4) this season.
Another day, another supposedly “official” ruling in the case of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. On Monday night a judge denied a request for an injunction and the most-discussed six-game suspension ever for violating the league’s personal conduct policy was apparently back on, though I feel like we’ve been here before. Why yes, we have been! Is it possible that this time the suspension is really going to happen this season, perhaps starting this week, and we won’t see Elliott until Week 15? Yes, that is possible. But the lawyers aren’t done yet and can still appeal again so yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Assuming the league gets what it seemingly wants and one of the most prolific running backs in the sport does have to miss the next six games, it’s obviously frustrating for fantasy managers since Elliott was a second-round selection in ESPN average live drafts (if you take ADP from opening night) and over the past two weeks he’s rushed for 297 yards and four touchdowns for the 4-3 Cowboys. However, the Cowboys have nine games remaining, so the simple math is Elliott would return for the final three games, against the Raiders, Seahawks and Eagles and in the heart of the fantasy playoffs. It should be clear that it’s not wise to send Elliott, no matter your thoughts on this process or what he did to spark it, to your league’s free agency.
As for how the Cowboys replace Elliott in their backfield, should they actually need to do so, the team employs veterans Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith and could, by the way, also make a trade before Tuesday’s deadline. The organization and the reporters covering the organization have been stating for a while the Cowboys intend to present a committee approach to running the football, and while fantasy managers don’t like seeing that, it sure does make sense.
McFadden hasn’t even been active for a game this season, though let’s remember he rushed for 1,089 yards in 2015, and was a top-10 fantasy running back. Morris and Smith have combined for 23 carries this season. Whom should you add in your league? All of them? None of them? Honestly, if I had to pick one it would still be McFadden, who should be well-rested, at the least. I suspect, if Elliott cannot suit up this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, that the Cowboys would give each running back opportunities and see what happens, while quarterback Dak Prescott would probably throw for 400 yards, since that’s the Chiefs’ actual defensive weakness.