Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden could both be in line to receive more prominent roles in fantasy football with Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott potentially facing a six-game NFL suspension.
On Thursday, the Associated Press reported a federal appeals court ruling cleared the way for the league to enforce its suspension. The NFL Network provided further information about the situation:
NFL Network @nflnetwork
BREAKING: Ezekiel Elliott's suspension has been reinstated after the 5th court of appeals rules against the RB. LATEST: 📺 @RapSheet https://t.co/bEJe9ZVxSu2017-10-12 20:59:17
Let's take a closer look at how the Cowboys' backfield workload might be divvied up and examine the possible fantasy impact while the team waits for more information on the starter's status.
Morris was a highly reliable fantasy asset during his early years with the Washington Redskins. He topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first three seasons, including a terrific rookie campaign in 2012 that saw him post 1,613 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Michael Fabiano of NFL.com passed along some simple advice:
His usage and production has dropped with every successive year, though. It reached a low point last season as he finished the campaign with just 72 touches in 14 games due to Elliott's success and his lack of big plays in those limited opportunities.
On a positive note, the lack of wear and tear he's accumulated since leaving Washington should mean he's fresh if he's asked to take on more of a workhorse role until the starter returns. It could be a chance to turn back the clock, at least for awhile.
Matthew Berry of ESPN suggested picking up both of the Cowboys' backup rushers:
Matthew Berry @MatthewBerryTMR
But honestly, Morris is avail in 95% of lgs. If you have the roster space (tough I know, esp with byes) I'd grab both RB. But DMC>ALF for me2017-10-12 20:58:47
It's unclear exactly how the Cowboys will divide the workload in the short term. The coaching staff might simply opt for the hot-hand approach, which creates a boom-or-bust scenario for both Morris and McFadden. But it makes the former Redskins star a definite flex option at the least.
McFadden appeared in just three games last season after suffering a broken elbow during the offseason. While he'd played all 16 regular-season contests each of the previous two years, injury woes were a constant part of his story during his time with the Oakland Raiders.
In turn, while he's the more dynamic playmaker of the Cowboys' two main backfield options behind Elliott, the team probably isn't going to turn him completely loose. His touches will likely be monitored in order to keep him healthy.
ESPN Stats and Info pointed out there's a lot of extra work to go around, though:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Ezekiel Elliott has 105 rushes this season. No other Cowboys running back has more than 8 carries (Alfred Morris).2017-10-12 20:51:19
McFadden said in June he was prepared for whatever Dallas threw his way after deciding he wanted to stay with the organization, per Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"This is where I wanted to be, so I didn't even get into negotiations with other teams," he said. "I'd rather be comfortable and at home at this point in my career than chasing some money. A few hundred thousand extra dollars to me don't make a difference."
Mike Clay of ESPN thinks McFadden will step into the starting role if Elliott's suspension is confirmed:
Mike Clay @MikeClayNFL
McFadden has been a healthy scratch, but tea leaves suggest he'd be the primary RB if Zeke is out. Morris the 2. https://t.co/VxbC0EMPIu2017-10-12 20:43:38
The University of Arkansas product possesses No. 1 fantasy back potential if he's given a full complement of snaps. But the Cowboys will likely opt for an even timeshare, however, which leaves McFadden in the same flex category as Morris, unless either one emerges as the clear top guy.