Fantasy Football 2020: Zeke and Tony Take Texas II

by Alex Kurpeski

 

Ezekiel Elliott is only 24 years old, yet he currently ranks fifth among active players in career rushing attempts, behind guys like Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson, and Frank Gore. Whether this accomplishment is impressive or disconcerting (maybe a little of both?) is up for debate. Elliott has seen 300+ touches in three of his four professional seasons, with the only exception coming in 2017 when he was suspended for six games. During that 2017 campaign, Elliott was on pace for 387 carries, which would have tied Edgerrin James (2000) and Jamal Lewis (2003) for the 12th most rushing attempts in a single season. During the first four years of his career Elliott has been the definition of a ‘bellcow’, accounting for an imposing majority of Dallas’s touch distribution in the games he was active. However, there are some factors that make me believe Elliott will be relegated to a platoon-adjacent role under the watch of Dallas’s new coach Mike McCarthy. 

 

Tony-Pollard

 

During his time with the Packers, McCarthy was known for consistently rotating his backs, as many Aaron Jones owners learned the hard way. While Elliott is a far superior talent to Jones, he also happens to have one of the most talented change-of-pace options in the league (Tony Pollard) breathing down his neck. Pollard, who averaged 5.3 YPC on 455 rushing attempts in his rookie season, looked like a star in the making when relieving Elliott, finishing as the RB53 in PPR formats. While it would be foolish to expect Pollard and Elliott to be deployed in a 50/50 split at this point, it’s possible that Pollard will see more touches in order to conserve Elliott’s health and energy for bigger games. In the case of the second-year back, McCarthy and his staff would be foolish not to get him more involved in the offense, as he and Elliott could very well become one of the best 1-2 punches in the league. 

 

Behind Elliott and Pollard, there should be very little room for any of the remaining backs on Dallas’s roster to become fantasy relevant. Jordan Chunn, Rico Dowdle, and Darius “Jet” Anderson will have to compete for the final spot on the team’s depth chart, as it’s hard to imagine the team carrying more than three backs given the saturation at the top. If I were to choose one guy from this trio to back the final roster, I would put my money on Anderson, who was one of the most elusive backs in college football last season, with a 106.7 elusive rating per PFF. Anderson displayed incredible acceleration for TCU, while breaking 43 tackles on only 153 carries. At 5’10, 208 lbs, Anderson has been compared to Kerryon Johnson by trusted analysts like Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus, a cosign that leads us to believe he may be a very decent NFL back. As for Chunn and Dowdle, it’s hard to imagine them being anything more than practice squad depth. So with our backfield narrowed down, let’s take a look at some projections for the touch distribution: 

 

Ezekiel Elliott

 

  • 1,176 rushing yards
  • 255 ATT
  • 9 rushing TDs
  • 43 receptions
  • 391 receiving yards
  • 2 receiving TDs
  • 265.7 fantasy points (RB6-12)

 

Tony Pollard

 

  • 705 rushing yards
  • 111 ATT
  • 3 rushing TDs
  • 26 receptions
  • 238 receiving yards
  • 1 receiving TD
  • 134.3 fantasy points (RB30-39)

 

Darius Anderson

 

  • 42 rushing yards
  • 16 ATT
  • 0 rushing TD
  • 2 receptions
  • 7 receiving yards
  • 0 receiving TD
  • 6.9 fantasy points (RB100+)

 

This will definitely be a two-man backfield, as evidenced by Anderson’s miniscule projection. Should Elliott or Pollard get injured, Anderson may very well serve some function for fantasy managers. However, we are not accounting for injuries in this series. With two very valuable backs for fantasy purposes, Dallas’s backfield should once again be one of the league’s most productive. 

Agree or Disagree? Let us know!

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