Heading into the 2014 fantasy football season, one thing is for sure: This year's crop of running backs is limited. One of the top emerging names is Andre Ellington, and recent comments from Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians could send his stock up a bit more.
Arians spoke about using a two-back set and system, which might be alarming for fantasy owners but essentially guaranteed touches for the starter. Kent Somers of AZCentral.com shared the news from Arians.
"The Cardinals would like to get the ball to Ellington 20 or so times a game," Somers writes. "But want to limit his carries inside the tackles. He's more dangerous 'in space' as a receiver, plus they want to keep him healthy the entire season."
After showing hesitation last season to use Ellington on every down, Arians appears to be using caution yet again. But in this year of limited reliability at the position, Ellington getting guaranteed 20 touches could lead to big things from the dynamic tailback.
Christopher Harris of ESPN.com believes Ellington is a great option, though he doesn't quite trust Arians:
I absolutely do not believe Bruce Arians when he says he's going to give Ellington 20-plus touches per game; it sounds like Stepfan Taylor is in line for short-yardage work over Jonathan Dwyer, which could wind up limiting Ellington's TD total. But so what? Isn't that the same thing we expect from Giovani Bernard? ... Each guy carries enough usage risk to keep them out of the RB top 10, but each is talented enough to dominate in a given week.
Harris brings up a great point for fantasy owners trying to decide between the two sophomore backs. While Bernard is clearly expected to do more, Ellington proved he has just as much flash in his game and the ability to pick up chunk yardage.
For the sake of comparison, here's a look at their statistics from last year:
|Bernard vs. Ellington 2013 Reg. Season Stats|
|Player||Rush Att.||Rush Yds||YPC||Pass Rec.||Rec. Yds||Total TD|
While there might not be a true feature back for the Cards still, Ellington appears to be the closest option. Despite being in a tough NFC West division, the 25-year-old clearly proved reliable in 2013.
No, Ellington isn't stacking up touchdowns or a workhorse like Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy, but he has plenty of potential. If he gets nearly 300 touches—he would have 320 with 20 per game—look for Ellington to be an excellent RB2 option this season.
He has an average draft position of 3.05 in a 12-team league by FantasyFootballCalculator.com, meaning Ellington might be a huge pickup in the third round. In a year where finding the perfect No. 2 back is difficult, the Cardinals player has great value.
With his ability to pass the ball out of the backfield and outstanding speed, look for the former Clemson back to put up big numbers. If Arians truly does live up to his word, Ellington has a chance to break out in fantasy football during the 2014 season.
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