Mastermind Moment - RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
Michael Nazarek - 8/11/2017

The hammer came down on Dallas Cowboys stud RB Ezekiel Elliott today, as the NFL suspended him for the first six games of the 2017 season for a domestic violence incident from last year. Before we talk about the fantasy impact and how you should handle Elliott in your draft this summer, let's take a look at his player profile from our Pre-Season Draft Guide...

10) Ezekiel Elliott, DAL ® - When the Cowboys drafted Elliott in the first round of last year’s draft, there was a strong feeling that he would have a big rookie season because of the gigantic offensive line in front of him and the unquestioned talent Elliott brought to the table. But few could have expected the consistent domination Elliott would have. He finished his rookie season playing in 15 games, rushing 322 times for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 363 yards and another TD. He finished the season with seven 100-yard games, 12 games with 20 or more carries, 10 games with touchdowns and five games with two or more touchdowns. It may be difficult to replicate the numbers he put up as a rookie in 2016, but if anyone is going to do it, it’s Elliott and the nearly one ton of steamrollers in front of him on the offensive line. His only question mark is for PPR owners because he isn’t used a ton as a receiver. STAT FACT: In his debut game against the Giants, Elliott ran 20 times for 51 yards. In the 14 games that followed, he never ran for less than 80 yards in any of those games, giving fantasy owners consistent and lethal production. Update 8/11: Elliott has been suspended six games, so his stats take the appropriate hit in our poll today. That said, Zeke is still a top 3 RB talent, so when he plays, he will produce like a fresh STUD RB. Keep that in mind when you consider drafting him.

How Do You Handle Drafting Zeke?

This is the million dollar question. Once the appeal has been heard, if Elliott is still suspended six games, he will not play until week #8 since the Cowboys have a BYE in week #6. That said, you will likely see fantasy players draft him anywhere from late in the second round to down to the 4th/5th round in 12-team leagues. Why so early? Simply put, the impact a fresh elite STUD RB will have come the final 10 games of the season will be very explosive for his owners, in an excellent way. The question here is when do you seriously consider drafting him? Personally, I'd start to think about it in the third round of your draft as your #2 fantasy RB. If Elliott slides to the 4th round, he is very good value, and if he slides to the 5th, he is a true STEAL.

How can that be for a player who won't play until November? You must think of it in terms that you will NOT take a ZERO in the RB position where you would normally start Zeke. Of course, you will start an alternative, a player that would normally be your #3 fantasy RB. The first target to grab is RB Darren McFadden, Zeke's current official handcuff. But if you don't get him, don't sweat it. There are other options out there, guys who can amply fill the void in a "decent" fashion until Elliott returns. Players you can get relatively cheap include RB Mark Ingram, RB Paul Perkins, and RB Danny Woodhead. In PPR leagues, there are also cheaper guys to target and start like RB Charles Sims, RB Darren Sproles, or RB Chris Thompson. Of course, there is RB Rob Kelley in Washington, whose ADP is so low you can probably grab him in the 9th or 10th round. In addition, RB Jacquizz Rodgers is likely to start the first three games of the season for the Bucs with RB Doug Martin suspended. He will come even cheaper than Kelley!

The point I want to make here is that where there is complexity, there is often opportunity. If you play this right, you could end up with two elite STUD RBs like RB LeVeon Bell and RB Ezekiel Elliott on your roster. As long as you can hang around until week #8, you could start two of the most productive RBs in the game today EVERY WEEK together down the playoff stretch drive!

That's what I call Masterminding your league!


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