Shoot for Upside in the Dallas Backfield week 10 2017

By Jen Ryan
Jen Ryan The Ezekiel Elliott suspension drama dates back to July of 2016, when it was announced that the league was investigating him for domestic violence allegations. Fast forward 14 months and Elliott has been suspended and granted stays more times than we care to count at this point. What we know definitively is that he will miss this Sunday’s game on the road against the Atlanta Falcons and, barring some sort of success on the Supreme Court level, he will return to the field on Christmas Eve when the Cowboys host the Seattle Seahawks. What are we supposed to do about this backfield for fantasy purposes?

McFadden was the lone bright spot of the Dallas Cowboys 2015 season. In a year where we saw a carosel of quarterbacks fill in for Tony Romo and Dez Bryant battle a foot injury for essentially the entire season, McFadden’s fantasy value in the Dallas offense equated to a 1,000 yard rusher with an RB13 finish. Since then, the Cowboys drafted Elliott in 2016 and shortly thereafter the league announced their investigation. Remember when McFadden broke his wrist in August of 2016? He has been inactive ever since. For the beginning of the 2016 season, McFadden was placed on IR and then moved to the NFI list. He has not been active in a single game in 2017.

Morris joined the Cowboys during the 2016 offseason. Depth is essential at the running back suspension, especially for a back who has had a suspension looming over him since coming into the league. Morris’ first three years of his career remain one of the most impressive stretches of any running back, tallying 3,959 yards while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. After a sub-par 2015 season, Dallas brought in Morris.

Heading into the 2016 season, the Cowboys were sure to keep an established running back with bellcow capabilities on the roster as Elliott’s backup and kept a veteran who proved he could handle the load on ice. All this was done in preparation for the suspension that could come down at any time. This carried into 2017 and, through out the saga, Morris as remained the back up with McFadden being a healthy scratch.

Here we are, Week 10, and Elliott is set to service his first of what (likely) is a six game suspension. Morris is set to start, McFadden will be active for the first time since 2015, and there is another guy no one is really talking about that will be in the mix. That guy is Rod Smith.

We know what Morris and McFadden are made of. Smith has untapped potential. He has been a player the Cowboys have kept around since 2016. Smith has shown flashes in the 2017 preseason, where he finished 10th overall in rushing. He is already ahead of McFadden on the depth chart and has run with the second team in practice. Cowboys’ running back coach Gary Brown told Jane Slater last week that Smith “will surprise us” and “thinks he can be an every down back”.

The first round of waivers has already run in your league. Someone blew FAAB or a high waiver priority on Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden, if they haven’t already been rostered. Whoever gets the lion’s share of the touches in Dallas stands to have some serious fantasy value. We do not know exactly how this backfield will shake out but we do know that Smith will be involved and that he is younger, fresher, and a contributor on special teams. He is probably on your waiver wire right now and if his upside hits you will want to roster him before it’s too late. During the next six weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles are the only top-15 rush defense the Cowboys will face. If you stayed away from the Morris/McFadden waiver rush, grab the guy with the highest upside in Rod Smith.