Finally getting the start and lead-role workload in the Arizona Cardinals backfield, rookie Andre Ellington made the most of it in Week 8, rushing 15 times for 154 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 27-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Does that mean he’s a viable fantasy option going forward? Well, he should be.
Anyone who saw Ellington turn on the afterburners in his 80-yard touchdown scamper can’t deny he’s got the goods to be an every-down back in the NFL. He took what looked like a rather pedestrian run, showed some unpredictability in bouncing to the outside and took off. Then he took it to another level in outrunning Atlanta’s Asante Samuel to hit pay dirt.
Any back who can show these skills will find a place in the league. The sixth-round pick carried the ball 15 times, more than double his career high, and he nearly doubled his season yardage output, upping his per-carry average to 7.7 yards. With those numbers, he’ll no doubt shine if given the proper workload.
But will he get the opportunity?
Here’s the thing: it’s not like anyone is impressed with Rashard Mendenhall. Ellington has already surpassed his paltry 281 yards this season, and on a third of the carries. Mendy is a notorious plodder who does nothing to jump start an offense, certainly not the way that Ellington did on Sunday.
Fortunately for Team Ellington, fellow rookie Stepfan Taylor failed to impress in extended garbage time, totaling just 38 yards on 14 carries. So it looks like Mendenhall and his gimpy toe will be Ellington’s primary competition.
Will he put up another 150-plus yards with Mendenhall back in the lineup after a Week 9 bye? Not necessarily. Will he get at least a baker’s dozen worth of carries and every opportunity to do something with them? If the Cards know what’s good for them, he certainly should.