- Ezekiel Elliott is suspended again. For real this time. We think. Here are some running backs his fantasy owners should consider adding.
Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension is back on again after the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday denied his request for an injunction, and it looks like it’s for good this time. Elliott’s suspension will start this Sunday, when the Cowboys visit the Falcons in Atlanta.
Elliott owners cannot complain about their fate. They got nine great games out of him, and are likely in good playoff position. If you have him on your team and are headed to the playoffs, do not drop him. His return is slated for Week 16, fantasy championship week in most leagues. In the meantime, let’s consult this week’s waiver wire column to find some candidates to replace him for the next six weeks.
Danny Woodhead, RB, Ravens
The Ravens made Woodhead a priority this offseason, signing him on the first day of free agency back in March. They had him healthy for all of one possession before he suffered a hamstring injury that landed him on IR, with a designation to return. That return is just around the corner. Woodhead practiced last week for the first time since injuring his hamstring, and remains on pace to get back on the field in Week 11. When he does return, he’ll get right back into the role he was supposed to have all season. Javorius Allen has played decently as the Ravens primary pass-catching back, but he’s not nearly the weapon Woodhead is. Alex Collins has emerged on the ground, and his workload likely isn’t in any danger, but Woodhead will make Allen obsolete. Woodhead is obviously a major player in PPR formats, but there should be enough opportunity through the air and on the ground for him to be a factor in standard leagues, too. Woodhead can be the type of player who helps swing regular season and fantasy playoff championships, so long as he can stay on the field.
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots
The Patriots were off in Week 9, but don’t let their absence make you forget about Lewis. He’s now the primary runner in the offense, getting double-digit carries in all of the team’s last three games, and totaling 225 yards on 46 carries in his last four contests. James White is going to hog the receiving work, and Rex Burkhead is back in the mix, but Lewis has enough of a role in an elite offense to be a fantasy factor in all formats. The mere fact that he has three straight games with double-digit carries suggests he’s inhabiting the role that LeGarrette Blount made so lucrative last season. Lewis may not have the same touchdown upside as Blount did in 2016, but there’s enough fantasy value here to place him on the flex radar most weeks.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks
Eddie Lacy got the start for the Seahawks in Week 9, but exited the game with a groin injury. Rawls owned the backfield from that point forward, running for 39 yards on nine carries and catching two passes for 31 yards. It wasn’t the greatest effort in the world, but it was one of the most encouraging performances by a Seahawks back all season. That likely says more about the Seattle backfield than it does about Rawls, but it’s enough to make him a waiver-wire target. He could lose much, if not all, of his receiving volume when C.J. Prosise returns from an ankle injury.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins
Damian Williams, RB, Dolphins
We got our first look at the Miami backfield without Jay Ajayi, and it played out mostly as expected. It was a nearly even split of the workload, with a slight tilt in Drake’s direction. Drake played seven more snaps and got nine carries, to Wlliams’s seven. Both backs got six targets, and both caught all six. Drake turned his 15 touches into 104 total yards, while Williams’s 13 touches resulted in 61 yards from scrimmage. Williams got a receiving touchdown, but Drake was more effective overall, with his 69 rushing yards standing out on their respective stat lines. After the Ajayi trade, we said both backs were worth owning, but that Drake was the preferred option. That remains true after one game in a post-Ajayi world.