Here’s a real brainbuster…
Which is more appealing? A slow, plodding, one-dimensional pickup truck, or a fast, flashy, versatile sports car? Unless you are incredibly odd, you would side with the sport car, correct? Well, that’s exactly how you can describe two of the Cardinals running backs, Rashard Mendenhall being the truck, while rookie Andre Ellington serves as the sports car.
And to be honest, folks. Mendenhall is no longer the most valuable fantasy running back in the desert.
While Mendenhall is clearly the go-to guy in the running game, having carried the ball 69 times with two touchdowns, he may be on the verge of splitting work with his rookie teammate. Ellington has been outplaying Mendenhall this season, averaging an impressive 6.7 yards per clip. His explosive play is certainly raising the eyebrow of head coach Bruce Arians, and as a result, Ellington has been getting more work. After opening the season with zero carries in Week 1, Ellington posted a career-high seven carries on Sunday, while actually seeing the exact same amount of snaps (30) as Mendenhall. Of course, Mendenhall still had 10 more carries than him, but when you factor in Ellington’s presence in the passing game, he clearly brings more to the table. On the season, Ellington has caught 13 balls on an impressive 22 targets and one score. Arians is utilizing his pass-catching back in many ways, lining him up in the backfield, out wide, or in the slot. Considering this offense clearly wants to throw the football, I think Ellington will be more valuable than Mendenhall at season’s end. Quarterback Carson Palmer has attempted 180 passes through five games, which is 14th-most in football, and Arians’ track record suggests that this team will be airing the ball out quite a bit. Over the last three weeks, Ellington has seen an uptick in touches, going from six, seven and 11 this past week. He is rapidly gaining ground on Mendenhall in this committee approach, and despite Arians saying he only sees Ellington as a 30-32 snap guy in the long run, I still believe his talent will beat out Mendenhall’s mediocrity.
Considering the current state of the running back position, those in at least 12-team leagues need to strongly consider adding this guy. Not many running backs in this league will be getting enough work to matter in fantasy land, and as long as Ellington continues to play like this, he may even exceed Mendenhall’s work this season. My advice? Pick him up now, and if you don’t feel comfortable playing him for a while, don’t. However, it certainly can’t hurt to get ahead of the pack, right?
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.