Fantasy Football: Ezekiel Elliott suspension back on -- again -- after latest court ruling

Ezekiel Elliott is suspended -- and this time, it looks like it's actually going to cost him some games.

Elliott's motion for an injunction of the six-game suspension handed down by the NFL was denied Thursday by the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. An appeal will be heard "on an expedited basis" on the court's next available calendar. 

So without a firm date of the appeal, and with no certainty the appeal would even be successful, Elliott will almost certainly miss the Cowboys' next six games. He's currently on track to return Week 16 against the Seahawks and will follow that up with what might be a game with huge playoff implications at Philadelphia in Week 17.

Elliott is expected to be replaced in the starting lineup by Alfred Morris, who earned the backup job in training camp and the preseason. Known for being a great runner in the zone-blocking scheme, Morris proved he's also effective running in the power-blocking game, a wrinkle that likely gave him the edge over inexperienced rusher Rod Smith and veteran Darren McFadden.

Morris is already owned in 90 percent of CBS Sports leagues and is considered a consensus No. 2 Fantasy option by our analysts. He'll take on a Falcons run defense that's allowed 4.1 yards per carry to opposing running backs, but given up just three rushing touchdowns.

Smith will quickly get snared in the 88 percent of CBS Sports leagues he's still available in, particularly after this tweet:

Smith looked good in the preseason and figures to pick up some snaps over the next six weeks. But it'll take a Morris meltdown for Smith to become good enough to get more touches.

However, the simple fact that Smith is the next man up in case something happens with Morris makes him worth stashing in Fantasy. He's right up there with Devontae Booker as great running backs to grab off waivers and take a wait-and-see approach. Better than McFadden.

Also, this isn't the first time I've heard about McFadden being "out of the picture." He's been inactive not only because Smith's special-teams skills made him more valuable the Cowboys coaches, but because those same coaches are OK with using Smith on offense. Expect all three backs to be active on Sunday at Atlanta, but for McFadden to be third in the pecking order.

As for Elliott, he's back to the bench until Week 16 or whenever the courts again rule in his favor. Fantasy owners desperate for wins should consider trading off Elliott for at least one good starting option, if not two. Meanwhile, first-place Fantasy owners with visions of making the playoffs should start making offers for Elliott just to have him for that crucial Week 16 game -- typically the week when Fantasy leagues hold their championships.

There is, of course, the chance his expedited appeal hearing happens during the course of the next six games and Elliott wins that -- this situation has shifted so many times, we simply can't assume it's over. However, it certainly seems like Elliott has exhausted his options, and so his chances of having the suspension halted are down to the whims of the justice system. We don't know how long that might take, so you have to continue to assume he's gone until Week 16. Anything else would be a pleasant surprise. 

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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