Andre Ellington NFL Stats
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Andre Ellington NFL Game Log
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(Compared to other RBs)
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Free Agent Team Injury Report
Ellington suited up for all 16 games last year for the first time in his career, but it is hard to get hurt when you are hardly ever on the field. The lack of available snaps was spurred by the emergence of David Johnson as a rare workhorse running back whose 293 carries dwarfed Ellington's second-place finish (34 rushes) on the Cardinals. Ellington barely racked up more yards from scrimmage (181) than on kick returns (163). Ellington attempted a move to wide receiver this offseason to tap into his pass-catching ability. However, the experiment did not work, as he resumed working with the running backs in the middle of the offseason program. Ellington survived cutdown day, but he'll likely be third on the depth chart behind Johnson and Kerwynn Williams to open the season.
It feels like an awful long time ago, but Ellington was actually the opening-day starter for the Cardinals last year, and he was effective when healthy enough to play (look at that zesty YPC). But staying healthy has been a major concern for Ellington through the years —last season it was a PCL sprain — and he's missed 11 of 48 games as a pro. The Cardinals finally accepted that Ellington isn't ideally built to handle a starting workload or a significant amount of inside carries. We also have to consider that Ellington came into the NFL later than most; he's already 27. At least one of the Johnson backs will have to go off the rails for Ellington to step into notable fantasy value this year; perhaps both of them.
After a dynamic rookie season, Ellington entered last season with high expectations as the starter, but concerns about his small stature and injury history that caused him to fall to the sixth round in the 2013 NFL Draft proved to be well-founded. Hip and foot injuries restricted him to 12 games and sapped his ability to make the quick cuts that made him so dangerous the year before. When healthy, Ellington's vision and burst allow him to get to the second level quickly, and his elusiveness in the open field makes him a threat to break a long gain at any moment, an ability accentuated by his exceptional receiving skills. Too often last season, however, he couldn't get away from anybody, ranking in the bottom five in both missed tackles and yards after contact, a far cry from his 2013 marks. Seemingly having learned their lesson, the Cards spent a third-round pick on David Johnson, who could be the power back complement to Ellington. However, the rookie has missed the bulk of training camp due to a hamstring injury, spurring general manager Steve Keim to bring veteran Chris Johnson into the fold. With an offseason to heal, and backfield partners who can ease his workload, Ellington's production should improve this season.
Ellington proved to be a multifaceted and highly productive runner as a rookie once he played his way into an increased role from Week 8 on last year. He ended up with a sparkling 5.5 YPC as well as a terrific 9.5 yards per reception. However, he's on the small end by the standards of featured running backs – just 5-9, 199 – so he appears destined to be the Cardinals' most heavily used back in a committee approach this year.
Even once Ellington started seeing more regular action last season, he never carried the ball more than 15 times in a game, more than likely in an effort to protect him from injury. But he's too good to shelter completely, and the Cardinals have no one else to lean on for full-time work – backups Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer aren't good for much outside of a change of pace.
The 25-year-old Ellington plays faster than his NFL Combine-clocked 4.61 40 time, and that was on display last season, as he broke eight rushes for more than 20 yards – that's as many as LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson had, but in well under half as many rushing attempts. He also posted the best broken-tackle rate in the league, shedding 28 defenders despite his limited touches. With production like that, the Cardinals are going to have a hard time finding ways not to force-feed him the ball.
Ellington will play a reserve role for the Cardinals with Rashard Mendenhall, Alfonso Smith, Ryan Williams, and Stepfan Taylor on the roster.