You’re On the Clock: Ezekiel Elliott

By Armando Marsal
Armando Marsal Being in the limelight might be something that some athletes enjoy, however, when the attention is mainly negative, it can become quite the opposite. Ezekiel Elliott continues to get buzz, but for all the wrong reasons. He is dealing with a domestic violence allegation, an alleged assault, and is reportedly appealing a misdemeanor conviction for speeding where he was clocked going 100 MPH. Needless to say, it has been a very bad offseason for him off of the field. At this point, it appears that a suspension is imminent, which may lead to fantasy owners having a tough decision on draft day.

To draft or not to draft Elliott in the first round?

This is a question many fantasy owners will be asking themselves come draft day. Before answering this question, several things have to be considered. First and foremost, if Elliott is indeed suspended, how long is the suspension? If you look at the chart below, you can get an idea of what exactly you are losing on a week-to-week basis.

As you can see, Elliott was very efficient, finishing eighth in fantasy points per game in standard formats and tied for fourth in PPR formats. This was amongst all players including quarterbacks. Let’s assume that he averages similar numbers to his rookie season and pencil him in 20 fantasy points per game to make math easier. If he misses, say four games (I believe there is a chance he misses more than that), at this point you have lost 80 fantasy points for the season and in the first four weeks, which can put you in a bind to start the season. Had he scored 80 fewer fantasy points last season, he would have dropped from the fifth overall scorer in PPR formats to 36th, which is a sizeable drop. At his position, he would have gone from RB2 to RB8. Granted, he is still considered an RB1, but the amount of fantasy points you lose is significant.

You are probably analyzing this chart and saying to yourself, if Le’Veon Bell was able to finish with as many fantasy points as he did after missing four games why can’t Elliott? My answer is Bell is just that good and although I think Elliott is a beast, Bell is just on a different level in my opinion. Let’s take a look at Tom Brady who also missed four games. He finished 27th in overall rankings even though he had one of his better seasons if you look closely at the numbers. He averaged 296.2 yards per game which is the fifth highest he has averaged throughout his NFL career, a 67.4 completion percentage which is the second highest, and 8.2 yards per attempt which is the third highest of his career. Despite those numbers he finished 15th amongst quarterbacks. Had he played a full season, he would have finished third amongst quarterbacks and in the overall rankings.
Another thing to consider is the level of competition in your league. If you are in a very sharp league or even a very competitive league, taking Elliott in the first round despite his suspension can be a big mistake. In a much softer league, I can see the warrant in doing so as you can make up ground in the mid-rounds, but that will not be the case in a tough league.
Understanding your league settings is also crucial when you are on the clock. The number of weeks that your league runs for will be another determining factor. In most cases leagues run about 13 weeks and assuming he is suspended for four games, he will miss roughly 31 percent of your regular season games. That is a decent portion of your fantasy season and missing such a big producer early on can be the difference of a playoff berth or not.

How about taking him for my playoff run?

Yes, I understand that if he is only suspended for a portion of the season, he will be back for you during your playoff run. The question is, what are the chances you make the playoffs when you basically started your draft in the second round for a decent chunk of your season? I am not focused on the playoffs until I have locked my playoff spot in my league. I am finding ways to win each week and not having my first round pick for the first month of my season does not sound like a winning recipe for me.


At this time, there is no information regarding the amount of time Elliott might be suspended for or that he will even be suspended. I think he will serve a suspension due to the incidents, but that is something we should have a better idea about as we get closer to the season. I used four games as a point of reference to provide you with an idea of how drafting him could impact you as a fantasy owner. In no way, shape, or form am I saying he will be suspended for four games.


If I am drafting today, I will pass on Elliott in the first round because I feel like I will be giving up way too much value to get a player who I strongly feel will not play a full season this year. What I will be doing is drafting Darren McFadden at his current 13th round ADP before his price gets inflated. He has already jumped from being drafted in the 14th round to the 13th. We are quick to forget, but in 2015, McFadden’s first season with the Cowboys, he rushed for the second most yards and had the second most 100+ rushing yard games in a single season of his NFL career. He also averaged a respectable 4.6 yards per carry. This is certainly a situation worth keeping an eye on and until we have more clarity, we will have to trust our instincts and the little information we have. That being said, at this time I am fading Elliott in the first round.