The Arizona Cardinals committed to the experienced Rashard Mendenhall in the offseason, but it has become blatantly obvious that they have a rookie in Andre Ellington who is not only going to be better, but is currently the more explosive backfield option. Head Coach Bruce Arians has stated that he thinks the undersized Ellington (5-foot-9 199 pounds) is only built for 30-32 snaps per game, and while I believe that they will stick to that train of thought, I also believe that they are going to increase his workload and thus increase his fantasy football value as the season progresses.
The Cardinals have won two straight and three of four, success that is directly correlated to an increase in Ellington’s touch count. The rookie is averaging 8.52 yards per touch this season, a number that is impossible to ignore in a backfield where the plodding Mendenhall has 19 more total yards — on 47 more touches! Familiar with how disappointing David Wilson has been this season? He is averaging more yards per carry than Mendenhall. Ryan Mathews hasn’t been the best running back in his own backfield, yet he is averaging more rush yards per game than the Cardinals starter.
The running back situation in Arizona is beginning to feel very much like that of the Cincinnati Bengals. BenJarvus Green-Ellis started the season as the team’s starter, recording 38 touches in the team’s first two games, while Giovani Bernard was a nice change of pace back, touching the ball 14 times in Weeks 1 and 2. The Bengals did what I expect the Cardinals to do, and that’s recognize talent when it is slapping you in the face. Since that second game, Green-Ellis has totaled 35 touches in three games while Bernard has touched the ball at least 14 times in each game. The result? The Bengals have beaten the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. Sure, they lost to the Cleveland Browns (a sneaky good team), but show me one team that wouldn’t take a 2-1 mark over those three games.
Ellington recorded double digit touches just once and hasn’t scored in three weeks, but there is no denying the talent or the opportunity that will be there as Mendenhall continues to fall forward for 3.2 yards per carry. Whether he is a free agent in your fantasy league or stashed on someone’s bench, there is tremendous value (currently ranks fifth in PPR fantasy points per snap) in acquiring this rookie tailback.
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