The Arizona Cardinals finished just 23rd in the NFL in rushing offense this season (96.3 yards per game), but both Rashard Mendenhall (687 rushing yards, eight touchdowns) and Andre Ellington (652 rushing yards, 39 receptions for 371 yards and four total touchdowns) were productive enough to be relevant to fantasy football owners all season.
Mendenhall is headed for free agency, and while his history with Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians could lead to a return to Arizona, Ellington will reportedly try to add weight during the offseason in the hopes of having a bigger role next season. Should fantasy owners buy-in to any potential hype that may surround Ellington in the coming months?
Ellington averaged a league-high 5.5 yards per carry this season, and his overall production is even more impressive considering he had just 48 total touches over the first seven games of the season. But he had at least nine carries in each of his final eight games (double-digit carries six times), and his production followed suit with 473 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 90 carries along with 19 catches for 181 yards. Ellington did miss a game with a knee injury (Week 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles) at a crucial time for fantasy owners, but otherwise his surprisingly productive rookie season left little to be desired.
Ellington should absolutely see more touches (157 this season) next year, with the only substantial limit on his fantasy value coming with the possibility of losing goal line carries to Mendenhall or someone else. Assuming the Cardinals don’t add significant competition for playing time during the offseason, and I don’t automatically put Mendenhall in that category if he is re-signed, I think Ellington has the makings of a RB2 or RB3 with upside in 12 and 14-team leagues and his value will deserve a boost in PPR formats.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.