Aug 16, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer (20) runs with the ball around Minnesota Vikings linebacker Gerald Hodges (50) to score a touchdown in the first quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football 2014: Arizona Cardinals RB Rundown

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As we continue our RB Rundown series, our focus is one of the most important fantasy players of the 2014 season. How the Cardinals divide their backfield timeshare is going to be one of the defining factors of this fantasy season.

Arizona showed last year that they’re a pass-first, pass-often offense, but they have the talent to also produce fantasy-productive running backs as well.  The big questions going into the season are how much the Cardinals will limit the touches of Andre Ellington, and when they do who will get those touches?

Here’s my take on where you should slot in the Cardinals running backs for your fantasy football drafts. The rankings listed are from my top 80 RB which came out last week and which will be updated later this week.


Andre Ellington

RB, Arizona Cardinals

Ellington is a fantasy stud waiting to happen with the speed and skill to break plays both in the passing game and on the ground. The one thing that Cardinals coaches are seemingly set on is that he isn’t built for a full season’s workload of running between the tackles.  He will definitely get touches in space and inside, but they’ll try to minimize the wear and tear he faces.  For fantasy owners, that means he probably won’t get more than 20 touches a game and won’t be utilized in goal line situations.  When you weigh all the risk factors, I see Ellington as a high-risk RB2 with potential to be a top ten RB if things go his way and the Cardinals take the restrictions off later in the season.  He does represent significant risk if you grab him as your second RB, so make sure the rest of your RB corps is built with that in mind.  If he’s your second RB, try to get a more “safe” RB1 like Marshawn Lynch or one of the elites.  You also want to make sure to get a backup that can slide in if Ellington isn’t given or able to handle the role of being the top RB in Arizona.

Jonathan Dwyer

RB, Arizona Cardinals

In short-yardage and goal line situations, Dwyer looks lined up to be the touchdown vulture when the Cardinals need short-yardage scores.  He successfully converted a one-yard plunge on the opening drive of week 2 of the preseason, but he hasn’t had much other success this preseason.  He has caught the ball well out of the backfield in past seasons, so could merit some third-down work as well.  Since it appears Dwyer has a slight lead in the backup RB battle and got that goal line look, he’s a late-round depth option to be considered if you have Ellington or are looking for someone with a chance to get goal line touches.

Stepfan Taylor

RB, Arizona Cardinals

Taylor is actually listed ahead of Dwyer on the Cardinals depth chart, but he’s definitely in a battle for the backup RB position.  Taylor entered the first game of the preseason before Dwyer, but Dwyer was the second back in during the second game.  Taylor could emerge as the complement to Ellington, but until he clearly has that role, he can be on most leagues waiver wires to start the season.  

This post is part of a series detailing the backfield situation for each NFL team from a fantasy football perspective. Check out my top 80 rankings and click here for the full series.


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Tags: Andre Ellington Arizona Cardinals Fantasy Football Preview Fantasy Football Rankings Fantasy Football RB Jonathan Dwyer RB Rankings RB Rundown Stepfan Taylor

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