Thursday, August 14, 2014



The positive reviews continue to pour out of Arizona Cardinals training camp regarding second-year upstart RB Andre Ellington who seems primed to have the sort of breakout season that would place him right at the top of the running back rankings both in real life and in fantasy football.  Being presented a prime opportunity to serve as the primary runner on the Cardinals after veteran Rashard Mendenhall retired, head coach Bruce Arians has talked up Ellington every step of the way.  The latest report came out Wednesday when it was revealed that Arians wants Ellington to his team's version of Kansas City's Jamaal Charles.  Heady comparison no doubt and the story just added more excitement to a guy who seems ready to be a weekly highlight reel catching and running the football.  With all that said let's check in a bit deeper and see what in fact Ellington could provide his fantasy football owners this season.

Right now Ellington generally has been drafted in the mid-to-late second rounds in drafts this summer and that seems about right for a guy who is virtually guaranteed to get the majority of work of the Cardinals' backfield.  While the team remains a pass-first outfit, Ellington no doubt will get his hands on the football often both in the run and receiving game.  Thus Ellington carries a bit more value in PPR formats than he does in standard but overall this has the look of a guy who is being drafted as a RB 2 but who by the end of the season could have the numbers of a one. 

As far as Ellington's rookie season was concerned, he wound up rushing for 652 yards on only 188 carries which comes out to a very impressive 5.5 average.  In addition Ellington caught 39 passes on 59 targets as he instantly showed himself to be a very good receiver out of the backfield.  Blessed with some of the best speed among the running back fraternity, Ellington is an explosive play waiting to happen almost every time he gets his hand on the football.  Unfortunately Arians was not totally ready to give Ellington a big workload due to his slight 5-9/199 pound frame.  Mendenhall got a large dose of carries which he didn't deserve and what is even more frustrating is that he also got almost all the goal-line work which hurt Ellington in standard formats.  Thus the light rushing total and only 3 scores on the ground.

Fast forward to 2014 and what we have now is Arians vowing to get Ellington 20 touches a game which is a sharp rise from a year a year earlier.  That doesn't include the fact that Ellington should also be a lock for 50 catches and likely more as the team look to take advantage of his abilities there.  What Arians did say which gives slight pause is that he doesn't want Ellington running between the tackles due to his light frame and instead wants him running to the outside.  While Ellington has the burst to be successful there, the fact he won't be used for the tough yards means he is not going to get many goal-line carries either.  This will likely fall to Jonathan Dwyer who is bigger and has had some success there in the past.  Thus Ellington once again has quite a bit more value in PPR leagues than in standard.  However the total package of numbers still will be sizable enough that Ellington plays well in all setups.

When you put things all together, Andre Ellington should be one of the most improved and exciting running backs in the game this season.  While I wouldn't say he is as talented as Charles, it is nice to hear the team thinking about using him the way the Chiefs do their star.  Ellington seems like at worst a very good RB 2 and the upside remains for more this season altogether.

2014 PROJECTION:  1,127 yards 5 TD 52 catches 671 yards 2 TD

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