Around noon eastern time today, I was enjoying my life. It was another day, and I had a delicious lunch consisting of a [email protected] and a granola bar. Pretty great. Matt Bowe (make sure to wish my man a Happy Birthday!) and I were talking about Joe Flacco’s broken back, and everything was going according to plan. It was going to be a normal Friday.
And then from around 12-12:15, it all went to crap. It was confirmed that Ezekiel Elliot was going to be suspended for 6 games. So I began writing about that. But then, Sammy Watkins got traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Okay, no biggie, just write two seperate pieces about it. But then, Jordan Matthews got traded to Buffalo. So screw it, we’re going to talk about all of these moves now.
I really hope Adam Schefter’s phone didn’t get hacked.
A short while ago, it broke that Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliot has been suspended for the first 6 games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy for Domestic Violence. Unfortunately, the Cowboys do have a Week 6 bye, so he will also be suspended for their Week 7 matchup versus the 49ers (dang it).
But the reason why I don’t think we should be overreacting is because Elliott and his camp have 3 business days to file an appeal of the suspension. And in all reality, it’ll probably get reduced. Look at it this way: suspensions get appealed all of the time, and as long as your name isn’t Tom Brady, you’ll get it reduced. Ben Roethlisberger got his reduced a few years back, Le’Veon Bell keeps getting his suspensions reduced for what seems like every day now. Jerry Jones is probably the most powerful owner in sports, and I highly doubt he’ll let one of his star players be suspended without putting up a fight. So let’s run through each scenario.
The Suspension Stays At 6 Games
So it stays at 6 games. When it comes to the draft, you have to ask yourself, “What am I comfortable with?” Again, like I wrote about with my running back strategy piece, it’s important to have tiers so you’re aware of what names you are comfortable with, and what names you aren’t. Would you rather have a Elliot for 8 games, or a full season of C.J. Anderson? A full season of Dalvin Cook? Personally, when we start talking about names in the range of rounds 5-6 in standard leagues, with names like Mike Gillislee, Ameer Abdullah, and Adrian Peterson, I don’t mind Elliott here if it means I get him as my 3rd running back, maybe even my fourth. He’s still Ezekiel Elliott and he’s still running behind the Cowboys offensive line, so we know that there will be tons of production for a solid 8 weeks of the regular season. And plus, he’ll avoid opponents such as New York (Giants), Arizona, and Denver. All things considered, if he’s suspended a full 6 games, I still think he’s a Top 25 running back this year.
And as for the rest of the Cowboys team, especially in the backfield, you’re using a bit of caution when drafting them. Honestly, I wasn’t really into Dak Prescott this year, as I thought there were better options around his ADP, but if Elliott is gone for any extended period of time, then I really don’t want to touch Prescott. Opposing defensive coordinators now have a full year of game film on Prescott, and it makes their job a whole lot easier to defend against this offense if they don’t have to see #21 in the backfield.
So as of now, it looks like Darren McFadden is going to be the starting back for this Cowboys team, barring some excellent play in Training Camp from Alfred Morris and Ronnie Hillman. Again, it does look like McFadden will lead this group just based off of pecking order alone, but this could turn into an ugly RBBC time-share very quickly. And I don’t really mind any of these running backs, although I do prefer McFadden and Morris over Hillman, I don’t think you should be really bumping up McFadden with the idea he’s going to replicate Elliott’s success, because, hot take, Darren McFadden isn’t Ezekiel Elliot.
The Suspension is Reduced
Obviously all of my thoughts above about a six-game suspension remains the same if it is 5 games, maybe even 4 games, but this time, I would just bump him up in where he would be taken, where we can start talking about round 5, and maybe even the late fourth. In fact, if I could place my money on the length of a reduced suspension, I would bet on 4 games.
But where things start to get interesting is where we start to talk about a reduced suspension of 3 and 2 games. Remember, Le’Veon Bell was suspended for 3 games (originally 4) last season, and during the offseason, his ADP settled around 11th overall in standard scoring leagues, although it went back and forth between the late first and early second. There was some fear that he wouldn’t be able to produce, but it went out the window when he finished as the 5th best running back in standard leagues. If Elliott gets his suspension reduced to 3 or even 2 games, I would keep him in the first round, as he’s a talented enough back behind that offensive line where it doesn’t matter overall to his value if he misses games against Denver and Arizona.
Alright, now let’s talk about the other moves that occurred today.
It’s Always Sunny in California
To be honest, this move bums me out for fantasy purposes. I really loved Sammy Watkins and the idea of him, in a contract year, in Buffalo as the only relevant receiving option for Tyrod Taylor. Now he’s being uprooted and sent to Los Angeles. For real life purposes, this is great. The Rams now feature an offense with Todd Gurley and Sammy Watkins in beautiful Los Angeles. Unfortunately, there is a major downgrade at QB, in my mind, between Tyrod and Jared Goff, and an even bigger downgrade in offensive line play. Another scary thing about this move is that Watkins will now face Patrick Peterson (x2), Richard Sherman (x2), Xavier Rhodes, Josh Norman, A.J. Bouye/Jalen Ramsey, and Janoris Jenkins/Eli Apple/DRC. Yeah, no thanks.
I won’t be bumping down Watkins too much, I still envision that he’ll be going now in the range that he has been going in, the middle-to-late third round, and he might slip to the fourth round, but I don’t imagine that I’ll have much of Watkins in 2017.
It’s Kind of Sunny in Buffalo?
It’s an interesting move, not necessarily a horrible one, but I’m not that excited about it. Sure, the Buffalo Offense is definitely a viable one for fantasy purposes. But I prefer Philadelphia’s offense more. First off, I would rather take Carson Wentz than Tyrod Taylor. Second, I think there is a legitimate argument that Philadelphia has the best offensive line in the NFL (or at least close to it.)
Before we get to Matthews, I will say that I think we should keep our rankings and feelings the same when it comes to Alshon Jeffrey back in Philadelphia. He’ll get more targets, which is always a great thing, but I wouldn’t bump him up too much because if we do just that he enters a conversation with guys like Doug Baldwin, DeAndre Hopkins, and Brandin Cooks. based off of talent alone, I don’t think he should be in that group of players.
But, like I said earlier, it isn’t the worst move in the world for Matthews. He definitely steps into the WR1 role in Buffalo based on pure talent alone. But I don’t think it will take much for Zay Jones (who now looks like a great late-round flier) or Anquan Boldin to unseat him from this role. They both already have some sort of chemistry with Tyrod Taylor whereas Matthews has no experience with Taylor or the offense. Because of this, there is a lot more risk than reward for Matthews.
Huh, I guess Rex Ryan wins after all.
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