Well, let’s start this off with simple facts. Ezekiel Elliott is currently suspended for the first 6 games of the 2017 NFL season due to off the field misconduct, largely stemming from a domestic violence accusation. Not to state the obvious, but this clearly won’t do anything positive for this upcoming fantasy outlook considering he’s a lock to miss half the fantasy football season. However, I think there is a way to turn this situation into a positive in regards to your football team with a little bit of luck and a lot of strategy.
As a matter of fact, I’m more likely to own Ezekiel Elliott in my leagues this year now more than ever for the following reasons:
- People will overreact
Most fantasy leagues take place in a single season vacuum. Since the ultimate goal of fantasy football is winning, it is imperative for teams to maximize their value. Because of this, it is almost assured that Zeke will plummet in your draft, maybe even into the third or fourth round. People will take lesser options since on the outset they have the potential to play the full season. But here is what we know for a fact: Zeke, when healthy and playing, is an explosive talent behind an offensive line that could maximize those considerable talents. If I’m sitting in the late third or early fourth round and Zeke is sitting there, I’m pulling the trigger because I think his value for the last 6 regular season weeks is more than other players at that spot.
- Fantasy Football is Unpredictable
Last year, I played in a league where I ended up going with wide receivers the first three rounds (I bought into the zero RB craze). Because of this, I was able to craft a wide receiver core of Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, and Keenan Allen. Allen blew out his knee in the first game. Robinson ended up being a complete bust due to Blake Bortles inability to pass the ball. 2 out of my first 3 picks were wasted, and despite nailing a late pick at running back (Melvin Gordon), my team was destined to fail. The point is, after my draft I felt super confident that I had three players who were going to get a majority of the targets and have major upside and quite possibly win me some money last season.
Here is what we do know though, Zeke will be gone for 6 games. After that, he will be back and carrying the ball again. It’s completely possible anybody else you select who doesn’t have the upside Zeke does when he’s playing gets hurt for that amount of time or longer.
- The Beauty of America
One of the more remarkable things about the American judicial system is the seemingly endless appeal process. This can work on multiple levels in the case of Zeke Elliott’s fantasy football forecast. First, if he appeals the NFL’s punishment, he is eligible to play until the appeals process is completed. Second, if his appeal is successful, he will most likely have his punishment reduced (although given the nature of the accusations not completely absolved). And third, there is a precedence for taking an appeal to the actual federal court system (see Tom Brady, subsection, DeflateGate). That puts the (unlikely) option on the table that this entire suspension could be pushed until the 2018 fantasy season.
Until the past week, if you didn’t have a top 5 pick, you weren’t getting Ezekiel Elliott. Even with the looming suspension most fantasy players were willing to take the risk of Zeke after David Johnson, LeVeon Bell, Antonio Bryant, and possibly Odell Beckham Jr. Now that he is officially suspended, he gives me the ability to consider taking him later in the draft than I ever thought possible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not burning a first round pick on him. But as the draft moves on to the later rounds, it becomes entirely possible that I’ll risk the pick to get a player of his caliber.
- I have faith in my process
This year, probably more than any other, I have spent a lot of time and energy doing my research and participating in mock drafts to get a feel for the pulse of the upcoming season. Because of this, I have a very good feel for what players are being drafted in specific rounds. As it gets closer to drafting season, anybody can put in a little bit of time to see what players ADP’s are and other projections related to the upcoming football season. Due to the time I have put in, I feel great about potentially taking a risk on Zeke Elliot early in the draft because I know when the players I can use to supplement him in the first six weeks are going and can execute that game plan. It may mean shifting my draft around a little bit, but if I want to make a shot on Zeke then it is a risk I would gladly take.