Why you should be hoping for Zeke’s suspension
Despite no charges being filed against Ezekiel Elliot after his then-girlfriend accused him of assaulting her on five separate occasions between July 17–25, 2016, Adam Schefter reported this week that there is “a growing sense” that Zeke will face a suspension by the League.
Seemingly to ensure this outcome, Zeke has found himself on the wrong end of several off-the-field stories since his NFL-leading rookie year that saw him dash for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. Here is a list of Zeke’s offseason incidents that we know about:
February 17: Zeke enters a Columbus bar with a friend who is carrying a firearm. Zeke speaks with police, his friend is arrested.
March 13: Videos show Zeke exposing a woman’s breast at a Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Celebration.
April 4: Zeke is ticketed for driving 100 mph in a 70 mph zone. He is later convicted of a misdemeanor, which he is now appealing.
July 17: Zeke is involved in a late night altercation at a Dallas bar. While no arrests have been made at this time, this DJ’s nose is broke af…
True, the incidents and accusations above vary in their range of severity. But, for a guy you would assume is trying to avoid a suspension, it sure seems like Zeke is doing everything he can to get suspended. Zeke is two decades too late, he would have thrived on a 90’s Cowboy team.
If I was in the Cowboys’ front office, I would already be annoyed at Zeke’s behavior, and I would be more than a little nervous about the seemingly endless off-the-field issues that follow Zeke wherever he goes. But, I’m not in the Cowboy’s front office, and neither are you. We are fantasy players, so no need to panic about a possible suspension. In fact, we should relish in it. A suspension will only increase Zeke’s value in fantasy this year. Here is why.
Potential Draft Slide
Zeke is a first round talent. Period. It does not matter if he is suspended 1, 2, 3, or even 4 games. For the record, if Zeke does get suspended — which is looking like a smaller and smaller “if” each passing day — I suspect it will be for 2 games, or 3 at the most. Zeke’s current ADP is sitting at 3.0 overall in standard and 3.7 overall in PPR leagues. If Zeke is suspended, expect to see his ADP slip to the latter stages of the first round or even the top of the second.
Last year, Lev Bell was in a similar position. He faced a 3-game ban to start the year and we saw him drafted at the end of the first round, and even in the second round of almost every draft. As my old friend George W once said, “fool me once, shame on… shame on you? You fool me…you can’t get fooled again.” So, don’t get fooled again.
The ONLY players I would take over Elliott, even if he is suspended are David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown. An argument can be made for Julio Jones or ODB, but I prefer a suspended Zeke over both.
If you find yourself sitting in the 5, 6, or 7 spot of your draft and you are waffling between an Odell Beckham Jr., LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman, or Ezekiel Elliott. Do not over think it. Take Zeke. He is younger, better, fresher, owns his backfield, and runs behind a better line.
If you are in a league where everyone tends to overreact, and you see Zeke fall even further than #7 overall, good for you — make sure to stay in that league forever.
Increased End of Year Production
Running back is the skill position that takes the biggest year over year punishment— by far. It is hard to present an empirical based argument that Zeke’s end of year stats will be better off if he is suspended based off one year of statistics. Logic and common sense, however, tell us that a guy who takes 2–3 games less physical abuse than his counterparts, will have fresher legs in the latter stages of the season.
Zeke had a torrid streak between weeks 3–6 last year. During that time, he averaged 24 carries, 142 yards, and 6.3 yards per carry. Those are some pretty gaudy numbers. While he did put up strong weeks 14 and 15, (I am nit-picking here because he never fell below 86 yards and scored a bunch of TDs in this timeframe) in weeks 8–13 he only eclipsed the century mark once. As I said, not the best empirical argument.
Still, I don’t mind Zeke missing a few games in to start the year if it means I can get him at a better price and his legs are fresher in the playoffs and championship round — that is when it truly matters.
Here is to hoping Zeke gets a short suspension and then wakes up and gets his act together.