Arizona Cardinals

Andre Ellington Will Have Breakout Fantasy Performance Against Atlanta Falcons

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Running back Andre Ellington #38 of the Arizona Cardinals carries the ball against the Detroit Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIOctober 25, 2013

He hasn't been a productive fantasy running back this year, but Andre Ellington will finally have his big breakout game in the 2013 season against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8.

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.  

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.

Sep 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) celebrates a 31 yard touchdown during the first half against the Detroit Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Andre Ellington 2013 Game Log
GameAttYdsRecYdsTotal TD
@STL001130
DET4202421
@NO3193360
@TB4293220
CAR7525360
@SF7565361
SEA332100
ESPN.com

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.

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.

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