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Hot Button Topic: What to do with Ezekiel Elliott?

Hot Button Topic: Ezekiel Elliott

Welcome to the newest article series from The Fantasy Authority. We’re going to be examining the latest hot button topics within fantasy football and collecting thoughts from our writers and the occasional guest. Twitter seems to buzz with a new topic that fluctuates as news becomes available. We’d like to gather our thoughts into an easy to read article to give you an easy place to find the thoughts from TFA’s perspective. This hot button topic is in regards to the ever-entertaining Dallas Cowboys and their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott.

Justin McCasland –

It’s obvious that Ezekiel Elliott has a problem keeping his name out of the media. This problem stems from an apparent lack of good influences keeping Elliott out of trouble. It would be so much easier for Zeke and his future if he’d maintain a responsible core of people around him that hold sway over him. It does no good for a young man with money, influence, and a bright future to surround himself with “yes men” who won’t step in when he’s about to make a mistake. That all being said, what I think Elliott should do and what’s likely to happen are completely different things. It’s more likely that he continues to struggle with these type of incidences until someone forces him to realize what he risks by making these poor decisions.

While the most recent incident has a police report that DOES NOT mention Ezekiel Elliott and the person who filed the report does not know who assaulted him, who wouldn’t know Zeke in Dallas, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Elliott will face some sort of suspension in the near future. Whether the suspension is handed down from allegations from a year ago or damning results from the latest incident, I’m hopeful that whatever suspension is handed down will wake him up and make him think bigger picture for his decisions.

With dynasty in mind, I will have my top 3 running backs ranked David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, and Le’Veon Bell. Not much changes with this situation long term but in the mean time, I will be attempting to acquire Darren McFadden in all of my leagues where I own Elliott. We all saw how dominant Bell was when he came off of suspension last year and Elliott will the exact same if a suspension is handed down. I would caution on overpaying the McFadden owner as well considering the suspension looming is likely only a 2 game suspension and we all know how much Bell’s handcuff is worth right now a year removed from his suspension.

Kevin Steele –

On the surface, I don’t think there is much to worry about with Ezekiel Elliott. At least for this season. We already know that he’s facing a short suspension due to his involvement in a domestic violence incident back in 2016. Now, we get the news that he was allegedly involved in a bar ‘altercation’ early Sunday morning. One thing is clear, the soon to be 22-year old seems to find himself in bad situations all too often. From a trip to a weed shop to being involved in two wrecks, and now his latest incident we seem to be developing a pattern. No matter how small the incidents are, he continues to find himself on the wrong side of media reports.

In regards to fantasy, I wouldn’t be all that concerned with him in redraft leagues. Whatever suspension he receives will likely be short. We have to look no further than Le’Veon Bell last season to understand that a suspension isn’t some sort of death warrant for a player. However, where I would be concerned would be in dynasty formats. At the very least, Ezekiel Elliott is starting to display a pattern of questionable decision-making skills. We have seen this story play out one too many times and it never seems to end well. Perhaps, this is just a bump in the road. Maybe we look back on all of this and realize that many folks (myself included) made a much bigger deal out of something that turned out to be just a 22-year-old kid doing what 22-year-old kids do. I wouldn’t run out and try and trade Ezekiel Elliott. It’s far too premature for that, however, this is a situation that we all should watch.

Frank Gruber –

To Zeke owners: yes, there is a lot of smoke, but do not panic with a top 3 dynasty asset (Jun ADP). Any suspension is likely to be brief, and now may be the worst time to sell. If you have cold feet, wait out any suspension and sell when Zeke is back on the field producing, not when his price may be depressed.

To Zeke buyers: probably worth feeling out the owner and/or floating a slightly discounted offer. At the very least, establish contact now so that if things do get uglier you already have an active dialogue with the Elliott owner so you’re ahead of your league-mates.

Ryan Williams –

Maybe Ezekiel Elliott isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed…the guy finds himself in headlines for a bar fight, AFTER already being in headlines for a potential suspension over a domestic abuse incident. This behavior I do not condone. However strictly from a fantasy standpoint, I’m already preparing myself to have Elliott shares because of his potential ADP drop. This reminds me of last year when Le’Veon was suspended for four games (later reduced to three). Everyone avoided him, making his average ADP around 12 overall. Bell was still finished top four in Standard and PPR leagues. If Zeke somehow ends up falling close to the second round he will be a steal, especially in Standard leagues.

For those of us who have Zeke shares, I would encourage you to hold onto those shares at the moment. We know little about the incident at the bar from this morning, and the Adam Schefter radio hits have alluded to a suspension for the domestic abuse at most being two games. Once he suits up he’s going to be a bell-cow for the Cowboys (no pun intended) especially given their rigorous schedule. I even think he’ll be utilized catching passes more due to their tough competition, the offensive line losing two starters and Lance Dunbar gone to the LA Rams. I’m not buying into the McFadden hype train. Even if you draft Elliott and want to handcuff with McFadden, the price to get DMC is going to be too high; see last year when DeAngelo Williams was going around the seventh round and ended up as RB49 only playing in 8 total games.

The Cowboys will get this fixed, they have too much invested in Zeke. I see these incidents as learning experiences for the sophomore back. Jerry Jones just needs to come in and give him the “Dez Bryant treatment” I like to refer to it as, where they have a guy watching him 24/7. It may seem silly but, then again, the kid is less than a week away from turning 22. He’s a pup by NFL standards. I’m still confident even in 13-14 games, Zeke will finish as an RB5 in both standard and PPR so let him fall guys – I’ll reap the benefits.

Matt Okada –

*Matt has an insanely bold take article that includes a take on Ezekiel Elliott here.

Ben Cummins –

With Ezekiel Elliott once again in the news for the wrong reasons, I fully expect a suspension to come his way before the beginning of the season. Yet, I don’t see this as a mandatory six game suspension under the league’s new domestic violence policy despite that being one of the subjects of the NFL’s investigation. Instead, I see a two game suspension where the NFL cites lack of domestic violence proof, yet enough circumstantial evidence over a one to two year period where some kind of action was necessary and warranted.

A two game suspension is not one that would worry me much at all as a Zeke owner. Look no further than Le’Veon Bell’s historic 2016 season in which he began the year with a three game suspension. The year Josh Gordon lit the NFL on fire? Ya, he began the year with a suspension too. The first few games of the NFL season are arguably the least important when it comes to fantasy football. I always draft expecting to make the playoffs and because of this my thinking stays geared toward who possesses the most upside to help me win a championship come playoff time. A short suspension for Zeke does nothing to alter his league winning upside in one of the most run friendly offenses in football. He’s still my RB3 in all formats, my #3 overall pick in standard, and a top 7 asset in PPR.

Zack Marmer –

Zeke’s impending suspension and inability to stay out of trouble don’t worry me much for fantasy purposes. This situation is not dissimilar to what happened to Le’Veon Bell last year with his 3-game suspension. If you could handcuff Bell with DeAngelo Williams or just manage to survive without him, you were rewarded with the highest scoring fantasy running back on points-per-game basis in the NFL. Even if Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension is 2 games and you start out 0-2, I wouldn’t be worried because you still have one of the NFL’s top running backs behind one of the NFL’s top offensive lines on a team that is committed to feeding him the rock as much as possible. Bell fell to the end of the first round of drafts last year, don’t let a potential league winner slide that late in yours. Draft him as the 3rd back off the board after David Johnson and Bell with confidence.

As my fellow analysts have mentioned, don’t overpay for Darren McFadden. Plenty of backs miss a game or two during the course of a season, and if you normally handcuff guys, then draft McFadden like you normally would anticipating a missed game or two. I’ve never been a handcuff drafter in redraft leagues, so I would just try and hit on other late rounders who can start for you here and there with higher weekly upside than McFadden assuming Elliott plays 14-15 games.

Landon Sparkman –

Ezekiel Elliott could be suspended for 6 games because of yet another incident involving domestic violence. According to NFL policy, that would be the punishment if he is convicted. For a 2 or 3 game ban, I would not alter my draft strategy when it comes to the reigning NFL rushing king. Six games change everything.

Let’s think about this, Zeke is arguably set up for success more than any other back in the league. He has possibly the best line in front of him, one of the most balanced passing attacks, and a play caller who has already given him 300 totes and now wants him more involved in the passing game. 2500 total yards is not a stretch of a goal at all.

If Zeke sits for 6 games, look for Darren McFadden to have a career year. RunDMC has already rushed for 1000 yards in the Cowboys current system. In the 11 games he started after taking over for Joseph Randle, he had 19 or more carries 5 times and 5 games of 3 or more receptions. This may not sound like a ton of work to some, but remember the Cowboys offense was largely anemic and they fell behind in most games.

Some may question McFadden’s durability, but he has been healthy throughout his time in Dallas, minus the cell phone incident over the summer last year. We also need to consider the fact that McFadden is only in Dallas to win, he’s highly motivated as he took a lesser deal to stay and compete vs more money elsewhere.

Alfred Morris is a more-than-capable back, but his receiving and blocking skills are not equal to those of McFadden. McFadden shows the capability to be a three-down back. With that in mind and a possibility of a six-game suspension, Darren McFadden becomes an 8th to 10th round pick due to the fact that most fantasy regular seasons are about 12 weeks long. For a Zeke owner, I could see as early a round 7.

Ezekiel Elliott

Most of our analysts agree that Zeke’s impending suspension doesn’t worry them much. What do you think? reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, or even our new Instagram page and let us know what your opinion is!

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