The case surrounding Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension only continues to get more and more confusing. While ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Elliott’s six-game suspension has been upheld by Harold Henderson, there’s much more to it than meets the eye.
Elliott’s suspension is upheld, but there’s currently the running back’s restraining order which was filed against the league that still has to be decided on. Even with that still undecided, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Elliott will play in Week 1 and that the judge will rule on the restraining order by Friday.
So here’s where the real fun begins. at least for daily fantasy football players. While sorting through the DFS Week 1 madness on DraftKings, FanDuel, Fantasy Draft or any other site you play on, having to decide on what to do with Elliott is going to be a tough task. There are a few ways to look at it, so let’s go ahead and break them down, then give the final call on what to do with Elliott in fantasy this week.
The Positives on Playing Elliott
Well, the most obvious is the fact that he’s an incredible NFL running back. Elliott averaged 5.1 yards per carry, racking up 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns in his rookie year. He also caught 32 passes for 363 yards and an additional score. His upside alone is going to make some people want to use him in daily fantays football lineups.
Throughout all of last season, Elliott had just one game with less than 80 rushing yards, and that was in his NFL debut against the New York Giants, the same team the Cowboys face in Week 1 this season. Tack on the fact that he’s going to enter this game ridiculously hungry after dealing with this off-field drama and wanting to make a statement, and it only boosts his stock.
Another selling point for Elliott is that in those monster daily fantasy football tournaments where first place is paying out huge money, the Cowboys star running back may have pretty low ownership. The reason for this is because the Giants allowed just 88.6 yards per game on the ground last season, tied for third-least in the NFL.
Which leads us into the negatives of playing Elliott.
The Negatives of Playing Elliott
Flat out, the matchup isn’t good against the Giants. New York has a great run defense as previously stated, and from a fantasy standpoint, he had arguably his two worst games of the 2016 season against them. After rushing 20 times for 51 yards and a touchdown in the first matchup, he followed that up with a better overall rushing performance, totaling 107 yards on 24 carries, but failing to catch a pass or score a touchdown.
While his 107-yard performance looks fine on paper, that’s only 10.7 fantasy points, which certainly isn’t worth his high price tag on daily fantasy sites. The Giants are going to be hungry while looking to prove that they can once again keep Elliott under wraps.
The question becomes, can they actually do it?
Consensus on Whether to Play Elliott or Not
Honestly, I have no problem with rolling out a split here. Using him in guaranteed prize pool games (GPPs, or big tournaments) is a smart play. His upside is there and if he can go off with a low ownership, then you’ll be sitting pretty. Elliott has tremendous fantasy upside, but it’s still a risky matchup, no matter how you look at it.
Then, for the cash games such as double ups or head-to-head games, I’d recommend staying away from Elliott. While the upside is there, on most sites you can get someone like LeSean McCoy for just a bit more, or even a name like DeMarco Murray, Devonta Freeman or Jordan Howard for less than Elliott. Each of those names has a high floor, making them good cash game options.
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