Some fantasy football players were dealt a blow Thursday when Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal for an injunction of his suspension was reportedly denied, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.
That means he will have to start serving his six-game suspension, and Pelissero noted the argument in his expedited appeal is scheduled for Dec. 1—which is four Cowboys games from now.
It appears as if fantasy players will need to turn elsewhere if they are looking for production from the Dallas backfield. With that in mind, here is a look at fantasy reaction for Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith.
Morris jumps out as the likely starter, which is encouraging news considering he will be running behind the fourth-best run-blocking offensive line in the league, per Football Outsiders.
However, a backfield by committee typically spells disaster for those relying on one player for significant production. That doesn’t change the fact Morris is the safest play of the three Dallas backups, especially since he had three seasons of more than 1,000 rushing yards when he was a primary back in Washington.
He is also averaging a head-turning 8.3 yards per carry this season, although it comes in a small sample size with 14 attempts.
That didn’t stop Michael Fabiano of NFL.com suggesting fantasy players should pick him up:
Michael Fabiano @Michael_Fabiano
If Alfred Morris is a free agent in your league, you might want to add him. Like now.
Michael Salfino of Meadowlands Media Group doesn’t envision a significant drop-off from Elliott with Morris taking over:
Michael Salfino @MichaelSalfino
I confidently give Alfred Morris who again is 27th all-time in YPR through age 27 minimum 1,000 carries about 75% of Elliott’s proj pts.
Morris is worth an immediate add if he is still available on the waiver wire and should garner flex consideration as a potential starter as long as Elliott is out.
McFadden has been inactive this season without a single carry, and Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News thinks he will still be the No. 3 option after Thursday’s news:
Jon Machota @jonmachota
Alfred Morris is expected to start Sunday at Atlanta. Rod Smith will be the No. 2 and a significant part of the game plan. Darren McFadden should also be active as the team’s No. 3 RB
The fact Machota said Smith will be a “significant part of the game plan” against an Atlanta defense that ranks a middling 18th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game is concerning for those hoping for a breakout performance from McFadden.
If the other two are finding success, that will leave little opportunity for McFadden to see consistent opportunities.
He is still buried on the depth chart even without Elliott and is best to avoid from a fantasy standpoint.
Adding Smith is a high-risk, high-reward move.
On one hand, he has 74 rushing yards in 26 career games, 69 of which have come this year on the Cowboys. He has also never scored a single touchdown in his career.
On the other, this could be his breakout opportunity.
Brad Evans of Yahoo Sports loves his upside:
Brad Evans @YahooNoise
Said this before and will say it again, I’m adding Rod Smith wherever possible. Big back. Excellent receiver. Young, fresh legs. DAL RB with most upside.
Smith is 6’3″ and 235 pounds and physical enough to work at the goal line, and Evans envisions positive things from him as a pass-catcher.
The thought here is fantasy players need something of a track record to fully trust the 25-year-old Ohio State product, but those in need of risky home run additions for the stretch run before the playoffs should take a gamble.