Fantasy NFL

Four hundred touches for Ellington?

By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians can't get on the same page with his general manager ... or himself.

Arizona's staff hasn't been able to make its mind about what type of role 5- foot-9 running back Andre Ellington will play in 2014.

Cardinals GM Steve Keim first publicly addressed the team's running back situation back in February, saying that Ellington would get more work than he did in 2013 but that Arizona would use multiple backs and not make Ellington "featured."

One day later, Arians contradicted Keim.

"We want to build our offense around him," Arians said about Ellington, according to Darren Urban of azcardinals.com.

In late March, Arians said the coaching staff has to be careful about building too much of the offense around him because the team would be in a tough spot should he suffer an injury.

At the same time, he also said Ellington could touch the football a lot in the right situation.

"He is still not a guy who you will pound up the middle 30 times a game and survive," Arians said. "He can run the football 30 times a game if you do it correctly, but you'd rather have him have 10 catches and 20 carries and let Stepfan Taylor or (Jonathan) Dwyer have the rest of the carries pound the rest of the ball up in there."

It seems Arians thinks the Cardinals run about 100 plays per game even though they were 14th in the NFL with 64.8 in 2013.

On Tuesday, the coach reiterated that Ellington is the team's No. 1 back and said he expects him to get 25-30 touches per game, which extrapolates to 400-480 touches over a full season.

Keep in mind Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy led the NFL with 366 touches in 2013 and that Arians runs a pass-first vertical offense that features Larry Fitzgerald, budding star Michael Floyd and fly-pattern specialist Ted Ginn.

No running back in the NFL averaged 20 carries per game last season, not even McCoy.

This situation has a C.J. Spiller reek all over it.

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's comment prior to last season that the team planned to give the ball to Spiller "until he throws up" is now infamous among fantasy owners after Spiller averaged just 15.7 touches per game and was pulled out for Fred Jackson every time the team neared the goal line.

It's highly unlikely Ellington will even approach 300 touches once the games actually start and Arians stops throwing out ridiculous numbers that aren't grounded in reality.

That doesn't mean Ellington won't be effective -- he had 11 gains of 20-plus yards last season on 157 touches and will certainly see more work in 2014 -- but fantasy owners can't overpay based on Arians' most recent comments, especially because he and Keim have wavered a few times already this offseason on just how much the team will actually use the second-year tailback.

05/27 17:17:57 ET