Why Fantasy Owners Can Finally Trust Andre Ellington

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIOctober 28, 2013

Oct 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) runs for an 80 yard touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington has made a name for himself in the NFL.

The sixth-round draft pick ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run which set the tone for the remainder of the contest on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Ellington finished the day rushing 15 times for 154 yards and one score.

Ellington remained humble following the game. "I work hard, and I try to be the best that I can be. When my opportunity comes, I just try to make the best of it," he told Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com.

Finally, a clear-cut starter has begun to emerge out of Arizona's cluttered backfield.

Going forward, there is plenty to like about Ellington in the realm of fantasy football. After all, the 4-4 Cardinals are in the thick of things in the NFC and must put their best players on the field if they are to create the highest possible chance of success.

Ellington has shined when given the opportunity to carry the football over the course of the 2013 season.

Aside from his three-carry, three-yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7, Ellington has not averaged less than 5.0 yards per carry in any contest.

Despite rushing in spectacular fashion this year, Ellington has also been extremely reliable as a receiver out of the backfield—something that his owners in PPR leagues surely enjoy. On the season, he has recorded 22 receptions for 198 yards and one score.

Even though Ellington has impressed over the course of the season, he still found himself buried on the depth chart—until now.

After a lingering toe injury to Rashard Mendenhall sidelined him for Sunday's game, Ellington was called upon to get the start. Mendenhall's job was already in jeopardy despite his injury. The former Pittsburgh Steeler has only managed to average 3.1 yards per carry on the season.

Ellington was well-prepared for his turn as the featured back. Not only did he impress as a runner, he improved the quality of play from quarterback Carson Palmer as well.

Palmer has been rather lackluster as the Cardinals' quarterback this season. After a strong showing in Week 1 against the St. Louis Rams, he has struggled. Having thrown just 10 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, Palmer needed help to balance the offense.

Ellington is the answer.

Due to the rookie's dominance on the ground, Palmer was able to step back and manage the game from the quarterback position. This allowed him to improve his efficiency in drastic fashion. He completed 13 of his 18 passing attempts for 172 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 116.0—by far his highest on the season.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith had some glowing praise regarding Elllington's performance:

Once we lost leverage, we weren’t going to catch that guy. We said that he was going to be a potential game-wrecker going into this ballgame because he’s a guy that has very good speed, very good vision, and he did a very nice job today.

Obviously, Ellington's potentially dangerous skill set has been recognized.

Despite all of the aforementioned details regarding the former Clemson standout, one sits above the rest: The Cardinals have a very favorable schedule against the run for the remainder of the season.

Cardinals' Remaining 2013 Opponents vs. the Run
WeekOpponentRank vs. Run
10Houston Texans27th
11Jacksonville Jaguars32nd
12Indianapolis Colts28th
13Philadelphia Eagles10th
14St. Louis Rams30th
15Tennessee Titans23rd
16Seattle Seahawks7th
17San Francisco 49ers16th

There are simply too many factors suggesting that Ellington will be a very solid fantasy option going forward. A balanced offensive attack for Arizona along with a banged-up running backs corps and a favorable schedule bodes well for this rookie's near future.

Fantasy owners, rejoice.