The NFL's legal battle with Ezekiel Elliott may finally be coming to a close. New York District Judge Katherine Failla denied the NFLPA's motion for a stay, which has resulted in the NFLPA filing an appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for an injunction. I know, I know, you don't really care about this legalese and want to know what this means for your fantasy squad. Well, the long and short of it is Zeke is an extreme longshot to play this weekend, and an even longer shot to avoid serving the league's six-game suspension this year.
There's a small chance Elliott and the NFLPA win their appeal, but it's looking very unlikely. So, for the sake of saving time, let's operate under the assumption that Elliott's suspension begins this Sunday against the Chiefs (Week 9), which would keep him off the field until Week 15, when the Cowboys face the Oakland Raiders. That would put him back into the mix for potentially two weeks of the fantasy postseason (depending on your league's schedule), so Zeke owners will have incentive to stash him on their bench.
As for the Cowboys backfield sans Zeke, as I wrote back on October 12th, we really know nothing about who the leader will be or if it will be a committee. Alfred Morris has received the most work in relief to date (13 carries for 105 yards), while Darren McFadden amassed 1,400 total yards in this offense in 2015. Then there's the wild card of Rod Smith, a young runner out of Ohio State (undrafted in 2015) who gained some buzz during the preseason and has 10 carries for 69 yards on the year. All three should be added in leagues just in case, as the Dallas offense remains one of the league's most potent and its running back(s) will have fantasy value. The Cowboys have four favorable running back matchups during Zeke's suspension (Chiefs, Falcons, Chargers, Giants) and two worrisome matchups (Eagles, Redskins). We'll need to read the tea leaves, track practice reports, and listen to coaches this week in order to discern who might lead the backfield this week against the Chiefs. But right now, it's anyone's guess.
One quick note on Dak Prescott, this could increase the offense's reliance on him and raise his fantasy ceiling for the rest of the season. Prescott has played exceptionally well this year already and that's translated into fantasy success (currently the QB6). Increased passing volume, especially near the goal line, could be a huge boon for him down the stretch. If you've been leaning on Prescott as your starter, do not panic at Zeke's impending departure from the starting lineup. Dak will be fine.
Make the necessary moves on the waiver-wire to add one or more of these players and stay tuned to the news. The final chapter in this suspension saga has yet to be written ... sadly.
*-- Alex Gelhar is a fantasy writer/editor for the NFL, who encourages you to check out the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website and spend your time, energy, and money on a good cause. *