He hasn't gotten a lot of opportunities, carrying the ball just 28 times this year, but that should change this week. According to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com, Rashard Mendenhall hasn't practiced all week and is officially listed as doubtful with a lingering turf toe injury.
Bruce Arians said RB Rashard Mendenhall is doubtful for Sunday. If Mendenhall doesn't play Andre Ellington will be starter.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) October 25, 2013
With the injury, that means that Ellington will likely be the starter, and he will need to get involved early and often in order for the Arizona Cardinals to maintain a balanced offense in the game.
Through the first seven games of his career, Ellington has ran for 179 yards and a touchdown, averaging an impressive 6.4 yards per carry. There have been questions about his durability as a runner, but he's made the most of his opportunities when he's been out there, and he should have an increased role in the running game.
What makes Ellington an appealing fantasy option isn't just his ability to run the ball. He's also been a pretty big part of the passing game this year, catching 20 passes for 190 yards and another score.
If you're in a PPR league, that certainly makes him an even more appealing option.
However, the issue has been that Ellington hasn't gotten a lot of opportunities. He hasn't had more than seven carries in any game, and his most total touches came back against the San Francisco 49ers, where he have seven carries along with five receptions and combined for 92 total yards and a touchdown.
Where would you put Andre Ellington on your fantasy team this week?
This week, the Cardinals are taking on the Falcons, and Atlanta doesn't have the best defense out there. The Falcons allow 99.7 rushing yards per game, and an average of 4.2 yards per carry. They've allowed at least 100 yards on the ground against their past three opponents, and all of them have averaged over four yards per carry.
The pass defense has been even worse for Atlanta. They've given up 14 pass touchdowns and just three interceptions with their inexperienced secondary, allowing a 104.7 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.
With Ellington's versatility and a weak opposing defense, he certainly is going to have opportunities to break off big plays. We saw plenty of that explosiveness during his four years at Clemson, where he had 3,436 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground while averaging well over five yards per attempt.
It appears that Ellington will finally get an opportunity to get a fair amount of touches against the Falcons, and based on what we've seen from him so far, he should be able to put up some nice points. He's certainly a risky start, but Ellington is worth putting in the flex spot in Week 8 due to his upside.