Ezekiel Elliott is now suspended, at least for one game, so can Alfred Morris deliver for needy fantasy football owners?
As he has appealed rulings on his six-game suspension over and over, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has played all season. But his immediate legal options have been exhausted for the time being, and Elliott will be not be on the field for Week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons.
Alfred Morris has been waiting in the wings to take over if Elliott ever served his suspension, and now he’ll do so for at least a week. So what should fantasy owners expect from Morris in Week 10, and perhaps beyond?
Morris will be the Cowboys’ lead back against Atlanta, who has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to running backs this season (25.2 per game, ESPN PPR scoring). Some of that is driven by vulnerability to running backs in the passing game, as the Falcons are in the bottom five of the league in catches and targets allowed at the position and bottom 10 in receiving yards allowed. It’s worth noting, though, that Morris offers next to nothing as a pass catcher with a career-high of 17 receptions with the Redskins in 2014.
But Morris was basically a starting fantasy running back in each of his first three NFL seasons (2012-2014), with finishes of RB5, RB15 and RB13 respectively. A lot of his production was volume-driven, but Morris has that back now as the Cowboys’ No. 1 running back for a least one week.
Elliott can appeal yet again, but an actual hearing on said appeal is subject to the court calendar. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero offered the bottom line — that Elliott is out for Week 10, but perhaps much longer.
Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News has reported a hearing date for Elliott’s expedited appeal.
After Sunday’s game against the Falcons, the Cowboys play the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Redskins, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders over what would be the balance of Elliott’s six-game ban. Two of those matchups stand out as particularly favorable, as the Chargers (Week 12) and Raiders (Week 15) are in the bottom 10 of the league in fantasy points allowed to running backs (ESPN PPR scoring).
Morris is owned in 59.6 percent of ESPN leagues, and 61 percent of Yahoo! leagues. So he’s teetering on the edge of being a widely available plug-and-play option, particularly for desperate Elliott owners, but Morris is a solid RB2 for Week 10. Darren McFadden and Rod Smith are viable waiver wire fliers in deeper leagues, but that’s it until there’s a game of usage to base anything on.
Morris is entering a favorable situation as Dallas’ lead back. He’ll belong in fantasy lineups as a RB2 in Week 10, and as a RB2 or RB3/flex in subsequent weeks for as long as Elliott is unavailable.