DFS Roundtable: Ezekiel Elliott

With Ezekiel Elliott coming off suspension, do we dare fade him?

Ezekiel Elliott - Elliott is off suspension this week and gets the Seahawks at home, who just allowed Todd Gurley to rush for 152 yards and 3 touchdowns while catching 3/28/1. Is Elliott a must play this week for both cash and GPP games? If you were to fade Elliott who would you consider in his place?

Phil Alexander: Yes, Elliott is a must-play in all formats this week. Both sites have him priced below Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram II, and Kareem Hunt, which doesn't properly reflect his value in a potential shootout with Seattle. Before serving his six-game suspension, Elliott's only rival in terms of touches per game was Le'Veon Bell and now he's playing with fresh legs. The Seahawks' legs, on the other hand, are not so fresh. All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was a shell of himself playing at less than 100% last week, and while he didn't do any further damage to his injured hamstring in the blowout loss to the Rams, it's doubtful he'll be fully recovered in time for Sunday's game. On the bright side for Seattle's run stopping-unit, Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright is expected back from a concussion.

Even if the Seahawks are in better shape defensively than they were last week, it shouldn't stop Elliott from producing at least a 3x salary multiple (DraftKings). He has the implied game script in his favor (Dallas -4.5 at home), and despite the six missed games, only five running backs have scored more total touchdowns than Elliott's nine this season.

Justin Howe: Yes, Elliott is an elite value here on the mid-second level of RB1 pricing, and he has the look of a cash-game lock. Were Le'Veon Bell on the main slate, Elliott would come a little too expensively to shoehorn him in, but as it stands Elliott is my top cash priority. Elliott's absence hasn't been injury- or rehab-related, and he's practiced with the team all week, so there's no real worry about rust or conditioning. I'm expecting a solid Cowboys win, with at least 25 touches for Elliott and a handful of touchdown opportunities, so fading him cash play looks silly. He projects as well as any main-slate back but comes at a reasonable price point.

In GPPs, I expect his ownership to be a bit prohibitive, and I'm not sure just how much we'd benefit from a typical Elliott game. He's great, of course, and the matchup looks cherry at the moment, but Elliott is no GPP-value lock. I really don't want to sell him short, and he's indeed reached or closely approached this 32-point DraftKings GPP-value marker a handful of times thus far this year. But generally speaking, for a RB in the (likely) 30%+ ownership range, I'm wanting a clearer path to those 32 points. Elliott is a dynamic receiver, but he's not exactly Bell, and if he struggles on the ground he's not likely to get that 7-catch boost. This is nitpicky, of course, and I'm not suggesting a GPP fade of Elliott. But if his ownership ultimately projects that high, I'll scale my ownership back markedly.

Justin Bonnema: Phil nailed it. Elliott is a great play in all formats. I’ll be jamming him into lineups. I understand what Justin is getting at in wondering if his GPP value is low. But top-tier running backs have been the best way to attack most slates, and even if he doesn’t hit the elusive tournament value we always discuss, he’s still a virtual lock for 25+ points. I want those points in my lineup and will happily leapfrog the 70% of the field that doesn’t have him. The Cowboys are playing for their playoff lives. They’ve seen what Prescott offers as a passer. They are going to ride Elliott for four quarters and keep this game grounded as best they can. Thirty touches coming. Don’t miss out. 

Chris Feery: Yes, there doesn’t seem to be any viable reason to fade Elliott this week. He’s beyond well-rested and in line for a monster workload, and the game against the Seahawks projects to be a relatively high-scoring affair. If you’re playing multiple lineups in GPPs, it makes sense to build some lineups without him for differentiation purposes. For cash games and the single bullet crowd, view Elliott as almost a free square this week and focus your research efforts elsewhere.

John Mamula: I have to agree with my colleagues that Elliott is indeed a cash game must this week. Elliott is simply priced too low on the major sites for this matchup. Losing Kam Chancellor was yet another blow to this once-vaunted defense. Expect the Cowboys and Seahawks to leave it all on the field this week as the loser will be eliminated from the playoffs. The Cowboys will lean on Elliott as he provides them with the clearest path to victory. 25+ touches are not out of the question, even in his first game back from suspension. 

For GPP tournaments, Elliott is not a must play but still projects to be a very strong play. If creating multiple lineups, I prefer to be overweight as compared to the rest of the field. 

James Brimacombe: Yes Yes Yes. Just like everyone else I will be starting all my DFS teams this week with Ezekiel Elliott. It is rare that you get a running back this late in the season that will be so fresh and ready for a heavy dose of touches so it almost feels like a free play this week even at a high price tag. The Seahawks were embarrased last week on their home field against Todd Gurley who rushed 21 times for 152 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns to go along with 3 catches for 28 yards and another touchdown. The Rams built a perfect game script of how to destroy the Seahawks last week and I see no reason why the Cowboys would look to anyone else in this game to take control of it. In the eight games that Elliott played this season he has averaged 97.9 yards rushing and has 9 total touchdowns on the season. The Cowboys are also fighting for their playoff lives and this is a game which features two teams that are sitting with 8-6 records and are desperate for the last wildcard spot. Don't overthink it this week at the RB spot, just plug in Elliott as your RB1 for both Cash and GPP and just have the worry of who you should start in your RB2 spot.

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