The Ezekiel Elliott court saga continues as the Dallas Cowboys running back was given another temporary restraining order from a New York judge. The NFL and NFLPA’s legal fight has been a long and confusing road. But what should you make of it as a fantasy football owner?
Before diving into the fantasy implications of the latest Elliot news, it is important to understand the current situation is. The temporary restraining order is just that, temporary. It should last long enough to keep him on the field for weeks seven and eight. After that, the court will again make a decision, and this would most likely be the final decision on Elliot’s suspension for the 2017 season.
So if Elliot were to get suspended, it would be for weeks nine through 14. Meaning he would miss a week of the fantasy playoffs in standard league formats. However, it is important to note that there is a growing belief that Elliot will avoid suspension this season. This notion is based on the argument that if three judges have already sided with Elliot, then the fourth will most likely do the same. On the other hand, Ian Rapoport reported this statement from the NFL’s Joe Lockhart regarding a possible settlement: “We’re not looking to make a deal, we’re very confident our arguments will prevail in court.” The moral of the story — take every opinion on the Elliot case with a grain of salt.
So what does all of this mean for fantasy? Let’s break it down into the multitudes of situations fantasy owners could find themselves in.
Have a 5-2 record or better: Getting out to a good start with this uncertainty is very helpful because the playoffs are still in reach even if Elliot were to get suspended. However, if he was suddenly ruled out for the first week of the fantasy playoffs, the chase for a championship could be gone in the blink of an eye. So, what should you do? Just like any other game, the object of fantasy is to take first place. In the end, having Elliot on your roster gives you a better chance to do that. Yes, it is a risk, but risks are sometimes necessary for success. However, if a league has a spread out payout distribution where first does not get a majority of the prize money, trading Elliot for a slightly lesser-tier back is a viable strategy. Know your league.
4-3 or 3-4: This is a tricky spot to be in. Still in the playoff race, but nowhere near a lock. The best strategy here is to shop Elliot to the other owners. If a trade presents itself that improves your team right now, do it. Getting into the playoffs should be priority number one. However, do not make a trade out of panic that does not return the value it should. Elliot could still play the whole year, so getting as close to top dollar as possible is crucial.
Down in the fantasy dumps: At this record, making the playoffs would take a miracle, so trading Elliot does not make too much sense. He is the type of player that could vault a fantasy team to a win-streak through a series of good games. There is not much risk in keeping Elliot, since the rest of the team is already struggling. Still, there is always a right price, no matter the situation.
Everyone falls in the same boat here. Trading for Elliot could win the league if he does not serve his suspension this season. Trading for Elliot is a risk, but it could pay off in the form of a fantasy championship. Know your team’s situation and assess if the risk is worth the move.