Free Andre Ellington (11/12/13)

By John Ewing
A look at how the Cardinals and fantasy football owners would benefit if Arizona made Ellington their primary back.

The Arizona Cardinals are 5-4 and sit one game behind San Francisco for the second Wild Card in the NFC. Arizona is in contention for the playoffs after two straight wins produced by a strong rushing game. As a team the Cardinals have rushed for 298 yards in their last two victories, which accounts for 35% of the team’s entire rushing output this season.
Leading the team in rushing both games is sensational rookie Andre Ellington who continues to produce despite Arizona’s insistence on starting and splitting carries with Rashard Mendenhall. Ellington is averaging 7.2 yards per carry compared to 3.1 for Mendenhall. Ellington leads the team in rushing though he has half as many carries as the veteran Mendenhall.
What would the rest of the season look like for Arizona and fantasy owners if Ellington were the starter for the Cardinals?
Status Quo (Ellington as a backup)
Arizona’s Project record: 8.5 wins, 7.5 losses
Cardinals 27.8% to win NFC West, 11.5% to win Wild Card
Ellington - 65.8 fantasy points
  • 56.7 rushes, 306.2 rushing yards, 1.7 rushing touchdowns
  • 20.9 receptions, 201.9 receiving yards, 0.8 receiving touchdowns
Mendenhall - 59.8 fantasy points
  • 106.4 rushes, 346.9 rush yards, 2.9 rushing touchdowns
  • 9.3 receptions, 66.2 receiving yards, 0.2 receiving touchdowns 
Ellington as the Starter (20-25 touches per game)
Arizona’s projected record: 8.6 wins, 7.4 losses
Cardinals 32.4% to win NFC West, 14.9% to win Wild Card
Ellington - 104.1 fantasy points
  • 117.7 rushes, 576.0 rushing yards, 3.1 rushing touchdowns
  • 24 receptions, 232.0 receiving yards, 0.8 receiving touchdowns
Mendenhall - 28.25 fantasy points
  • 45.4 rushes, 123.8 rush yards, 1.8 rushing touchdowns
  • 6.2 receptions, 44.1 receiving yards, 0.2 receiving touchdowns
As a backup the rest of the season we project Ellington to continue out producing Mendenhall for fantasy owners but he would rank just 27th among all backs and would be a low end No. 2 or flex option.
If Bruce Arians were to free Ellington of his Mendenhall shackles the rookie would shine. As a starter Ellington would be the third best fantasy running back over the remainder of the season behind Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte. The uptick in production from Ellington would also increase the Cardinals’ chances of making the playoffs.