Fantasy impact of Ezekiel Elliott suspension decision

Ezekiel Elliott will be eligible to play when the Dallas Cowboys kick off their season against the New York Giants in Week 1.

After that? Well ... let's just wait and see.

The six-game suspension for the Cowboys running back was upheld by an arbitrator on Tuesday. But because the decision came down after a league-imposed 4 p.m. ET deadline, Elliott is being allowed to play. What is complicating the matter is that there are a number of legal motions that have been filed on both sides -- including a temporary restraining order. A decision on that restraining order is expected by 5 p.m. CT on Friday. If if it granted, then Elliott will remain available to play. If it is denied, his suspension will begin in Week 2.

For now, anyone that drafted Elliott onto their fantasy roster will have the star running back at their disposal for the opening week. That's something that seemed unlikely a couple of weeks ago. If the suspension is overturned or at least delayed, then Elliott will continue to be available to fantasy managers. Where it gets tricky is if he is forced to miss games ... and more importantly, when.

In the event that Elliott's suspension begins next week and remains at six games, that means he won't be eligible to play again until Dallas' Week 9 contest against the Chiefs. It's an eventuality that many fantasy managers had planned for even if it ends up being a week or two later than initially anticipated. If the suspension is reduced, then Elliott would return sooner.

At this point, there are any number of permutations that could result from the legal wranglings still to come. If you've drafted already, you hopefully put together a contingency plan -- likely Darren McFadden -- to address Elliott's expected absence. If so, carry on with those plans until there is something resembling finality to this episode.

If you've yet to draft, understand that you will be hard pressed to find Elliott on draft boards after the second round. In light of Tuesday's news, it wouldn't be surprising if he moves up to the first round in plenty of drafts. I've been on record admitting that I'm more conservative than most when it comes to drafting Elliott borne of a desire to not hold a roster spot for seven weeks. Remember that (for now), it's a six-GAME suspension. Not a six-WEEK suspension. The Dallas bye in Week 6 means he'll be out one extra week. If you understand that and build your roster accordingly, then drafting Elliott early is a calculated gamble.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.

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