Andre “Juke” Ellington lived up to his nickname last season after earning regular playing time in his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals. Despite only spending a portion of the season as anything close to being the featured back, Ellington managed to post 1,023 total yards. He only found paydirt four times, but that’s a number that is a certainty to increase.
Ellington is undersized, and likely to lose some goal line touches to Jonathan Dwyer because of that lack of prowess in the size department, but he’s such a threat in the passing game, that he should still see a majority of 3rd downs. After all, his success as a third down back last season is what won him the starting gig in the first place.
The biggest concern about Ellington is not his size, but his protection. The Cardinals offensive line was miserable last season. The addition of left tackle Jared Veldheer will make a big difference, but the right side of the line is still a massive concern, and could be the downfall of the team.
Ellington has a knack for avoiding tacklers, which will be a necessary skill on that side of the field. However, if one side of the line cannot create holes, they’ll have to abandon running in that direction, rendering the running game predictable and less effective, especially when they play six of their games against the superb running defenses of the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams within the NFC West.
Schedule aside, Ellington was a shifty, explosive offensive weapon coming out of Clemson and nothing has really changed. His 5.5 yards per rush as a rookie showed he at least has immense potential as an every down runner, while his versatility has been no secret, either.
ESPN is currently listing Ellington as the 22nd ranked running back for the 2014 fantasy football season. Mock drafts have his ADP coming in around 19th overall according to FantasyFootballCalculator, too.
I like Ellington a lot as a value pick in fantasy football drafts this season. The only thing holding him back is the shaky o-line in front of him, but if they can mildly outperform their expectations, Ellington can go from a solid value pick to a legit RB1.
It’s possible others in your fantasy draft will reach for him, in which case, go ahead and let them. That said, if he’s available in the late third, or early fourth round, make the pick and start watching Arizona Cardinals games.