If you have a top-5 pick in your draft, you're probably wondering what to do with Ezekiel Elliott...
The NFL has given Elliott a 6-game suspension stemming from an investigation into allegations of domestic violence. The City Attorney's office in Columbus, Ohio where the allegations occurred chose not to pursue charges because of "conflicting and inconsistent information", but the NFL in its discretion can still penalize a player. We expect him to appeal the suspension similar to the way Tom Brady did it previously.
How does the suspension affect his rankings and where should you look to draft him? It won't come as a surprise to see Zeke drop in the rankings. In fact, he's already the biggest mover among running backs in our most recent Movers and Shakers. The problem is that the Cowboys are on bye in Week 6 which means that his last game of suspension would be Week 7 and he'll be eligible to return in Week 8 against Washington. A six game suspension means that he's effectively out for half the fantasy season. If his appeal gets reduced to four games, he'll be able to contribute for you for 10 weeks.
It wouldn't be any stretch of the imagination to see some regression from last year's numbers. He turned in a very impressive 5.1 yards per carry much of which has been attributed by analysts and Monday-morning quarterbacks alike to the elite Dallas O-line, but even that line will take a small step back with the loss of both RT Doug Free and LG Ronald Leary. That doesn't mean that he won't put up fantastic numbers when he can suit up again, but some regression should be expected.
Even if he gets his suspension reduced to four games, Zeke is no longer a first round pick. He's more like a third round pick - not that dissimilar from Le'Veon Bell's situation when he was lost for four games last year. Even though you'd be holding onto Zeke for half the fantasy season, he's an elite RB1 for you the rest of the season, and just as importantly - in the playoffs. He still has tremendous value, particularly if you can handcuff Darren McFadden. It remains to be seen where McFadden will be drafted now, but we certainly expect his stock to rise.
If Elliott were to go in the third or fourth round of your draft, he's likely going to be your RB2. As long as you're comfortable with spending that kind of pick on him and waiting to cash in with potentially half the season under your belt, he can still be a stud for your fantasy team.