Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended by the NFL for six games for violating the league's personal conduct policy following a year-long investigation into multiple incidents -- including a domestic violence allegation -- involving the Dallas Cowboys running back. Last season, Elliott was the NFL's rushing leader with 1,631 yards and finished as the second-highest scoring running back.
The bottom line is that Elliott -- who was a consensus top three fantasy draft pick -- will miss approximately half of the fantasy regular season. At this point, there is no way he can be considered anything more than a fourth-round pick. While you're getting a running back with top three talent when he returns, it also means holding a roster spot for the first two months of the season. It's not a luxury that all fantasy managers will be able to afford.
In Elliott's absence, Dallas is likely to turn to a committe approach with veterans Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris splitting the workload and a possibility. McFadden is just two seasons removed from rushing for 1,089 yards behind the Cowboys offensive line. Morris saw very limited work in 2016 (69 rush, 243 yards, 2 TD, 4.9 ypc) but was once a legitimate fantasy threat, opening his career with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and three straight top 15 fantasy RB finishes.
With the two players likely to split carries, both will see their current ADPs rise (McFadden is currently the RB53 on FFCalculator; Morris is unranked) but McFadden as the presumptive lead back shouldn't be drafted before the ninth round. For now, Ronnie Hillman remains on the roster but it seems unlikely that he'll have a significant role in the offense.
This will undoubtedly have an impact on the Dallas passing game. It might not be as clear-cut as you'd think, though. The Cowboys ran a higher percentage of pass plays without Elliott on the field but Dak Prescott was considerably less efficient. Not having their workhorse available means Prescott will be asked to take on more responsibility. That could mean more targets for Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley. Yet Prescott will also likely see more pressure from opposing defense which would make it difficult to duplicate last season's success.
For now, Prescott remains a viable option for those waiting on a quarterback in drafts. However with Bryant potentially seeing an uptick in targets, his current late second-round ADP could see a bit of a bump.