In 2014 fantasy owners in every league invested heavily in Andre Ellington with the hopes that he would have a breakout sophomore year. Unfortunately, Ellington experienced what can only be considered a sophomore slump. His previous 5.5 yard per carry average plummeted in 2014 to 3.3, and he was only able to rack up 8 more rushing yards in 2014 (650) than in his freshman season (642), on 83 more carries. These numbers are disheartening for fantasy owners, but on the bright side he was struggling with injuries throughout the year that could be considered the primary cause for his decline. Whatever the reason, fantasy owners are looking ahead and trying to decide whether or not Ellington will be worth an investment in 2015. In this article, we will look at the factors affecting his value in 2015 and try to figure out just where to draft this boom or bust candidate.
Can Ellington be a lead back in today's NFL?
The NFL today is a completely different animal than it once was. The days of a a single RB racking up 300+ carries on any given team are over, typically being replaced by RBBC's. The fact is that the league has evolved into a faster, pass-heavy style of play where individual backs serve different purposes such as pass catching, pass blocking, rushing between the tackles, and edge rushing. While this fact doesn't only have an effect on Ellington, it hurts him as much and possibly more than other backs because of his size. Measuring in at 5'9" and only 195 lbs, many believe that Ellington doesn't have the size and durability to be a lead back in today's NFL. Think Giovani Bernard minus 10 lbs. Like Bernard, don't be surprised if Arizona looks to add a bruiser at running back to take 1st and 2nd down carries, while spelling Ellington to 3rd down duties. Now, this isn't to say that Ellington can't be a lead back, but unless he can bulk up in the off season like the Cardinals want, expect another RB to enter Arizona leaving fantasy owners everywhere with another headache.
Can Ellington stay healthy in 2015?
In 2014 Ellington was plagued with a series of injuries that made it seem like he was made of glass. A week before the season started, Ellington tore a tendon in his left foot and then dealt with a hip flexor issue. Finally, Ellington's season was ended by a sports related hernia which required surgery that sidelined him for the remainder of 2014. Because Ellington has proven to be so injury prone, the need for Arizona to add not only a bigger, but also a more durable back is only more dire. Because of his injuries, Ellington was limited in his carries this season and failed to record a single 100 yard game.
Where to target Ellington entering 2015
When looking at Ellington's current situation, we really find nothing but question marks. Can Ellington bulk up in the off season? Can he stay healthy in 2015? Will the Cardinals bring in another back to compliment Ellington? The questions go on and on. The only certainty entering 2015, is that the Cardinals will have improved run blocking in the form of elite run blocking guard, Mike Iupati. Unfortunately, even the addition of Iupati isn't enough to sell me on Ellington. Currently, Ellington is being drafted as an RB2 in most standard mocks due to the Cardinal's lack of depth at the RB position. However, the question marks surrounding Ellington are too much to ignore, and it's likely that the Cardinals will look to add a big back in either free agency (fingers crossed for Adrian Peterson) or the draft. Either way, any decent addition to the Cardinals backfield will only further hurt Ellington's value. I wouldn't reach for Ellington come draft day, but as a true boom or bust candidate I wouldn't mind taking him as my third or fourth RB. Nothing earlier.