Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington should be a trendy fantasy pick based on his ability to both run and catch the football.
Ellington had just one catch for a yard in Sunday's preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he carried the ball nine times for 46 yards.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller provided his take on Ellington's play and how valuable he is proving to be after being chosen late in last year's NFL draft:
Cardinals head coach and play-caller Bruce Arians has said he plans to get Ellington 25-30 touches per game, which seems outrageous based on the lack of workhorse backs in the modern NFL. Arians shared his thoughts on Ellington in late May, via ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss: "It’s easy to hand it to him but it’s throwing it to him, that [is where] he’s really dynamic. As the season progresses, it’ll depend on how they treat him as a receiver or a running back."
Rotoworld's Adam Levitan observed how Ellington stayed on the field enough in the first half Sunday to be on track for that many touches:
A vertical passing game serves as the foundation of Arians' system, but adding a playmaker like Ellington to the mix gives the Cardinals an added dimension. There are plenty of capable contributors in the receiving corps, namely Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Any pressure Ellington can take off quarterback Carson Palmer would be a welcome development, though.
Palmer was 7-of-19 passing with an interception against Cincinnati. That likely means Arians will only lean harder on Ellington when the regular season rolls around.
As a rookie in 2013, Ellington made the most of limited opportunities. He ran for 652 yards on 5.5 yards per pop and had with 39 receptions for 371 yards.
Both of those numbers should increase as Ellington becomes a focal point of the offense in his second year. The NFC West's best teams in Seattle and San Francisco are built on a physical rushing attack. Although Ellington is more diminutive, he also possesses rare versatility at the position that should see him become a fantasy stud.
Relying on a less intimidating back to be a No. 1-caliber fantasy play is dangerous, but Ellington hasn't done anything to date to shake the faith he ought to command.