The NFL has suspended Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games. The punishment is for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. What is the impact of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension?

As a rookie, Zeke led the NFL in rushing (1,631 yards). The Pro Bowl back could do it all catching 32 balls for 363 yards and finding the end zone 16 times. Of course, he benefited from playing behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.

Before the suspension, the Cowboys were projected to win the NFC East. Last year’s No. 1 seed in the NFC had a 62.6% chance to make the playoffs (5th best) and a 6.0% chance to win the Super Bowl.

After rerunning 10,000 simulations of the 2017 season with Elliott missing six games for the Cowboys, Dallas is still projected to win the division. The team’s chance of beating out the Giants, Eagles and Redskins barely changes moving from 47.4% to 46.3%.

NFC East Division Probabilities

TeamWith ZekeWithout Zeke
Cowboys47.4%46.3%
Giants23.5%24.9%
Eagles17.6%17.3%
Redskins11.6%11.6%

The Cowboys have a 62.3% chance to reach the postseason and a 5.3% chance of winning the Super Bowl with their star back suspended for the first six games. The suspension has little impact on the team’s 2017 outlook. Why?

First, quarterbacks are the only position that really matter (especially to the spread). The Cowboys still have Dak Prescott and a great line. Plus, Zeke had a capable backup in Darren McFadden. McFadden finished fourth in the league in rushing in 2015 with 1,089 yards. It also helps that Dallas plays just one division game during the six-game ban.

The team would prefer to have Zeke on the field but the Cowboys can overcome his suspension. The Patriots played without Tom Brady for four games last year and their season ended well.

Cowboys Before and After Suspension

Impact of SuspensionWith ZekeWithout Zeke
Wins9.489.43
Playoff Probability62.6%62.3%
Win Super Bowl6.0%5.3%

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