After a year-long investigation by the NFL into domestic violence allegations against Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL announced Friday that Elliott would be suspended for six games.
While there was initial belief there would be no more than a one or two-game ban for Elliott, given former players Ray Rice and Josh Brown received those short bans, the NFL followed its policy on this occasion with the six-game ban noted in the NFL's rules as the standard for credible evidence of domestic violence.
The NFL announced Elliott's six-game suspension is not connected to the incident on St. Patrick's Day when he pulled down a woman's shirt in public. Per the NFL's statement, Elliott's suspension comes after they found "substantial and persuasive evidence" of multiple incidents of abuse during the week of July 13, 2016.
Elliott will have an opportunity to appeal the suspension, which he almost certainly will. The appeals process will take multiple weeks, so a decision on it won't be known any time soon, but if he won it could reduce the suspension to four games.
For now, fantasy owners must operate under the mindset that Elliott will miss six games. It significantly impacts Elliott's fantasy value this season. Missing more than 40 percent of the fantasy regular season, or six of 13 weeks, would leave fantasy owners without an RB1 for a significant amount of time this season.
It likely pushes Elliott's ADP into the late-second to early-third rounds in standard leagues, potentially with owners that hold a top-four pick taking an elite player with their first pick, then Elliott on the swing around in Round 2 or to begin Round 3.
While Elliott is out, the expected running back to emerge as the go-to runner is Darren McFadden. Running behind the Cowboys elite offensive line, McFadden could make for a strong RB2 in the first four-to-six weeks this season.
But it's also worth noting that Alfred Morris outshined McFadden in the team's first preseason game and he could leap in front of McFadden for the leading role. In that case, Morris becomes the RB2 for the first portion of the season.
Most importantly, the NFL told Elliott further violations of the NFL's policy could lead to a further suspension or permanent ban from the league.