Oh boy. What a huge mess we’ve got in Dallas. The Cowboys’ most dominant offensive weapon, Ezekiel Elliott, has been suspended for 6 games by the NFL. I’m not going to sit here and put in my two cents on whether he should’ve been suspended or not. That’s irrelevant at this point. What I will do, however, is break down the impact that Elliot’s suspension will have on this fantasy season. Before I do though, I just want to say, that this incident is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t draft your fantasy team until a week before the season starts. I get it, you’re excited that fantasy is back, and you just want to have your team already, but look at what could happen. I’m sorry, but scratching the fantasy itch is hardly worth losing the most important player on your roster. We haven’t even played one game in the regular season yet, and all the Elliott owners are already scrambling to hold their teams together. The later you draft, the lower the odds are of an injury, or suspension, ruining your season before it even starts. Keep that in mind when selecting a draft date.
So where do Elliott owners go from here? This isn’t just any running back you’re losing. Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards last season, so hopefully, you took some sort of precaution when drafting him. Either Alfred Morris, who has a career average of 4.3 yards per rush attempt, or Darren McFadden, who has a career average of 4.2 yards per rush attempt, should’ve been a late draft pick for any Elliott owner. Even the recently signed Ronnie Hilman, could be worth something in Elliott’s absence. Dallas has the best offensive line in all of the football, and whoever gets the bulk of the carries behind that line, will certainly be a worth a starting spot. What if you didn’t take any of those players though? Well, then you need to hit the waiver wire and see what’s left. Remember that every single season, plenty of valuable players are left sitting on the waiver wire after the initial draft, and right before the regular season starts. Do some research, have a little faith, and take a shot on a player.
The other option you have, and the option I’d go with, is trying to pull off a trade before the season starts. You can try to include Elliott in the deal, but you have to understand that if you do, you’d be selling him for a fraction of his normal value. Nobody is going to pay you full price for a guy who’s going to miss multiple games, let alone 6 games. You can try to add another player to the deal to bring the value back up, but don’t go too crazy. The whole point of a trading is to make your team better not worse. I wish there was some sort of default advice that would cover all the Elliott owners, but unfortunately, there isn’t. If you’re in the unenviable position of owning Elliott right now, it’s not the end of the world. The season still hasn’t even started. Both times I won my league, I had to do it with basically nothing at my #1 RB position, so who’s to say you can’t win it with half a season of an elite RB. When Elliott comes back, whether it’s in week 8, or earlier, he’ll be fresh, and motivated. Patient Elliott owners will probably be handsomely rewarded at the end of the year.
If you haven’t drafted yet, and you’re still considering taking Elliott, do it. Just make sure you take one of his back ups too or draft another RB that can start for you until Elliot’s suspension is over. Odds are Jerry Jones, and the Cowboys, are going to use every single resource available to them in order to get this suspension thrown out. I don’t believe it’ll get thrown out, but I definitely anticipate it being reduced to at least 4 games. If it is reduced, I can still see Elliott going in the 1st round. He’s extremely talented, and his situation isn’t unlike LeVeon Bell’s situation last season. Bell was still going in the first round of some drafts, and when he returned, he looked every bit like a top 5 pick. This suspension sucks for Elliot owners, or anyone who was hoping to draft him, but remember that this is a fluid situation, that could change at any second. If you have Elliot, don’t panic, do your due diligence, and make the move that’s best for your team. Whether that means keeping him or dealing him. If you were hoping to own Elliott, don’t be scared off. Just understand that what you’re drafting now, isn’t what you would’ve been drafting a week ago.
Baseline Times NFL Contributor