Release the Kraken: Andre Ellingtion unchained

David “Sho” Showalter
August 23, 2014

This season a second year running back is going to be put into a great position to succeed. He will be the bellcow in vertical passing offense that is about to take off. This back is explosive, elusive, and more durable than he is given credit for. Hearing that you’d think people would be all in especially at the value you can get him at, but numerous analysts never paint the complete picture for this guy who averaged 5.53 yards per carry as a rookie. You’re gonna need a bigger boat, Andre Ellington is gonna be an absolute monster!

Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinal’s offense is about to take a major step forward this year. Having threats at receiver position, consummate pro Larry Fitzgerald, budding star Michael Floyd, and offseason sensation John Brown, will greatly benefit Ellington and his overall effectiveness as a runner as well as a receiver. With Palmer having no fear to sit back and sling the rock as much as Bruce Arians asks him to, opposing defenses won’t be able to stack the box. Ellington should consistently see 7 or less defensive fronts making it easier for him to consistently reach the second level of the defense. That plays into one of his greatest strengths; his explosiveness.

I’m not someone who thinks “Pro Football Focus”(PFF) is the end all be all of player evaluation, but a lot of valuable information can be obtained through their statistical records. One of PFF’s signature stats for running backs is “breakaway percentage” that shows which runners earn the highest, and lowest, percentage of their yardage on big plays (any runs of 15 yards or more). Ellington led the NFL last year in “breakaway percentage” in a little more than half the amount of attempts as it took a fellow explosive Clemson back, C.J. Spiller, who was second. Spiller is known as a home run threat anytime he touches the ball. There is no reason to think Ellington can’t be just as electric as Spiller.

Now with that being said, you could attempt to make an argument, that with such a large percentage of this yardage coming from big plays (47.9%), if Ellinton doesn’t hit a home run, his yards per game could be really fluky. Another great PFF signature stat is their “elusive rating.” “Elusive rating” rates a runner’s success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers. Ellington also ranks very high on this list at 5th in the NFL just barely below star backs like Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, and considerably above another stud, LeSean McCoy. Stop the press!, this guy sounds like he could be legit! To reinforce that point even more, he was 2nd in the NFL with 3.15 yards after contact (9th with 2.47 Yco on inside runs and 1st with 4.62 Yco on outside runs). Take a second to let that sink in. Little old Andre Ellington had a higher average than the Purple Jesus.

All those bells and whistles sound great right, but how will Ellington last an entire season with a 5’9 199 frame? Well first off he put on 8 to 10 pound of muscle this offseason in preparation of a larger workload. Cardinal’s beat writers reported that he hasn’t lost any of his elusiveness or explosiveness. Let me tell you, 209 pounds is extremely compact and thick for someone who is 5’9! Second, Ellington can be just as durable as backs that aren’t as stout as he is like Chris Johnson (5’11 203) and Jamaal Charles (5’11 199). Both of those backs are/were the focal parts of their offense and the primary concern of defensive coordinators. Ellington is not the primary focus! He will be in a better situation than people realize.

All this disbelief about Ellington needs to go away. He has legit high end RB 1 upside at a RB 2 value and should be pounced on when he falls to you. It’s time for everyone to grow a pair and make the bold move to draft him so you’ll look like a genius. Don’t fear the Reaper, Andre Ellington will be a fantasy superstar!


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