Rumor’s of Ezekiel Elliot’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Since being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott has been a perennial RB1 for both the Boys and for fantasy managers who rostered him. It can be argued that Elliott’s rookie season is why expectations for rookie running backs have reached untenable levels over the last few seasons. So it’s no surprise that the moment he starts faltering as a running back, people are jumping at the opportunity to say he’s washed. To that, I say I respectfully disagree.
The Argument Against Ezekiel Elliott
Critics claim that Elliott has lost his burst. A quick look at the stats suggests that this is indeed the case. Elliott only has 3 breakaway runs this season and a 1.4% breakaway run rate. He’s also only averaging 3.9 YPC. He isn’t the same running back that he was his rookie season, that’s for sure. The tape tells a similar story, and it isn’t a coincidence that his best run in the past 3 years only went for 38 yards. He’s not a home-run hitter anymore, and those hoping Elliott reverts to his rookie form will be disappointed. The offensive line is also nowhere near the level it was a couple years ago. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of putting up elite numbers.
The Argument For Ezekiel Elliott
He’s lost his burst, the offensive line is in a rebuild, and Dak Prescott is coming off a major injury. This is not the type of scenario that inspires confidence in a bounce-back season. It may not be the best decision financially, but I think Jones will do right by Prescott and offer him the deal he deserves. When that happens, I’m confident the man known as “Zeke” can bounce back with a high-end RB1 season at the age of 26. While he may not have the same burst as before, Elliott has continued to develop as a passing-down back. Even without Prescott, Elliott has 45 receptions, 285 receiving yards, and 62.3% route participation rate (routes run per team pass plays). Elliott’s value is just as high through the air as it is on the ground. Elliott is still making it difficult for opposing defenses to tackle him, which his 56 evaded tackles show. Ellliott was thriving with Prescott under center; it was only until his injury that Elliott and the entire offense suffered an absolute meltdown.
Elliott will be available at a discount next season. I’m pouncing on that value and expect one more big season from the former First-Team All-Pro.