Fantasy Football Week 1: Suspension of Ezekiel Elliott upheld; things to know after his appeal
Harold Henderson has upheld Ezekiel Elliott's suspension. Here's what Fantasy owners need to know.
There's one less possibility on the table in the seemingly never-ending Ezekiel Elliott saga. There will be no reduction of his suspension from Harold Henderson, per reports Tuesday:
What has changed
While a favorable ruling from Henderson seemed to be one of the least likely positive outcomes for Elliot, this nonetheless narrows down the possible outcomes. Elliott's suspension, should he serve it in 2017, will be six games. There is no more gray area.
The ongoing legal battle between Elliott, the NFLPA, and the NFL does leave some questions unanswered at this point. Elliott has asked the courts to vacate the suspension on the grounds that the NFL's process was unfair. More importantly, for the short term at least, he's asked for temporary restraining order (TRO) that would prevent the NFL from enforcing the suspension until the court case is decided. Should he win on the second count (possibly this week) he could play all season. The big change here is that NFL's argument against the TRO was that a suspension had not yet been meted out. Now that it has been upheld by Henderson, that argument is gone.
The other thing that changed is we know that because of the timing of the ruling, Elliott will be on the field Week 1 against the New York Giants. If the judge rules against him, he would then sit out Week 2-8 (including a bye week), and return in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
We're all waiting on Judge Amos Mazzant. He has the unenviable task of deciding whether Elliott has a reasonable enough chance of winning this case to warrant a TRO. If he grant Elliott the TRO, it's likely the suspension (if it happens) takes place in 2018. If he refuses the TRO, it's likely the suspension is over before anything is resolved.
What you should do
This doesn't have a huge impact on Elliott's value, but the impact it does have is actually negative, despite being allowed to play in Week 1. Elliott is essentially down to 4th down here. He needs Mazzant to believe he has a reasonable chance of doing what Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson could not: Challenge Goodell's disciplinary authority.
If you already own Elliott, step one is to get him in your Week 1 lineups. Then, there is nothing to do but wait. If you're drafting in the next 48 hours, it's all about risk tolerance. I wouldn't take him until the mid-to-late second round, behind running backs Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman and LeSean McCoy, as well as a host of wide receivers. Jamey Eisenberg would still take him No. 3 overall.
There are countless legal experts who have no idea what Mazzant will decide, so this isn't so much about your legal expertise as it is your willingness to accept risk. If Elliott wins, he's well worth that early first round pick; if he loses, you won't have an elite player for nearly half of your Fantasy season. Choose wisely.
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