In recent weeks, Andre Ellington has had the looks of a running back on the verge of breaking down, or even worse, already broken. Over the summer, coach Bruce Arians talked about getting Ellington 25-30 touches per game. Most of us in the fantasy football world laughed it off and chalked it up as coachspeak. But Arians proved to be dead serious. And we’ve come to learn that from Arians. He’s one of the few head coaches that actually speaks his mind. But back to Ellington. He averaged a robust 22.7 touches per game the first 10 games of the season. Weeks 6-11, Ellington received 25.3 touches per game. During that time, he averaged 3.1 YPC.
Owners like myself were just hoping, praying, and keeping our fingers crossed that Ellington could make it through the end of the season. SportsInjuryPredictor.com had Ellington as one of its most high-risk running backs entering the season. They were proven right as soon as the season started, with Ellington playing through a foot injury the first three weeks. Now, Ellington is saddled with a “severe” hip pointer. Arians says Ellington won’t practice at all this week and will be a game-time decision for Week 14 against the Chiefs. We’d put his chances of suiting up at 50-50 at best. Even if he does play, Ellington can’t be treated as anything more than a FLEX option. We saw what hip issues did to Ray Rice in 2013. Ellington isn’t built for this kind of workload. It’s fair to wonder about his long-term outlook. In the meantime, if Ellington can’t go Sunday, Marion Grice will get the start for the Cardinals. Michael Bush and Stepfan Taylor would also be in line for carries, making none of the three backs as game-changing fantasy adds for the playoffs.
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In Other News…
Alshon Jeffery was downgraded from limited Monday to DNP at Tuesday’s practice due to a hamstring injury. Coach Marc Trestman insists it was merely precautionary. The expectation remains Jeffery will be ready for his full complement of snaps as a WR1/2 on Thursday night against the Cowboys.
Coach Chuck Pagano said he remains committed to a backfield timeshare between Trent Richardson and Dan Herron, even though Herron has been running circles around Richardson the past two weeks like every running back before him in Indianapolis when compared to T-Rich. It leaves Herron’s upside capped as mostly an RB2/3 when he could easily post RB1 numbers with 20-plus touches in the Colts’ dynamic offense. As pointed out by ESPN’s Field Yates, Richardson has averaged 3.05 YPC and scored six rushing touchdowns on 296 carries since the Colts acquired him. All other Colts running backs during that span have averaged 5.0 YPC and scored 11 times on 290 totes.
Justin Hunter, dubbed by some as the Alshon Jeffery of 2014 as a prime breakout candidate, was placed on season-ending I.R. on Tuesday with a lacerated spleen he suffered in the Week 13 loss to the Texans. His nightmare of a sophomore season is over. Hunter finishes as fantasy’s No. 63 receiver (currently). He had zero 100-yard games, no more than four catches in a single game, a league-worst 12.1 percent drop rate among receivers, and just three touchdowns. There’s no denying Hunter’s ability. He just needs to put it all together. We’re skeptical it will ever happen, but Hunter remains a hold in Dynasty. The University of Tennessee trio of Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Da’Rick Rogers has proven to be slow-developing to extremely disappointing.
Quarterback & Running Back Slants
Coach Bruce Arians revealed the Cardinals tried to acquire Alex Smith from the 49ers when Arians was hired by Arizona in 2013. Smith, of course, was traded to the Chiefs and inked a four-year extension this year. … The Giants signed RB Chris Ogbonnaya. It could be taken as a sign Rashad Jennings (ankle) won’t be available for Week 14. … Coach Rex Ryan hinted he didn’t believe Geno Smith was the best option at quarterback for the Jets in Week 13, suggesting the decision to reinsert Smith came from GM John Idzik. … The Raiders aren’t considering benching Derek Carr. … Coach Mike Tomlin said he’s not concerned with overworking Le’Veon Bell, who’s played nearly every snap the past two weeks. … The Ravens insist Lorenzo Taliaferro isn’t in the doghouse. He has just three carries the past three games after losing a fumble in Week 9. … Reggie Bush (ankle) is expected back for Week 14. Believe it when we see it. … The Titans think Zach Mettenberger (shoulder) can play Week 14 against the Giants. … With DeAngelo Williams (hand) in doubt for Week 14 against the Saints, Jonathan Stewart may be in line for a well-deserved expanded workload. He could emerge onto the RB2 radar against a New Orleans run defense that has been getting gashed of late.
Wide Receiver & Tight End Slants
Dwayne Allen (ankle) is expected back for Week 14 against the Browns after a two-game absence. The Colts waived TE Weslye Saunders on Tuesday. … Miles Austin (kidney) remains hospitalized in Buffalo. … Brian Hartline (knee) is expected to be available for Week 14. … Roddy White (ankle) expects to be fine for the remainder of the season. … Browns TE Gary Barnidge suffered broken ribs in Week 13. … Terrance Williams (finger) is practicing in full for Week 14 against the Bears.