Ezekiel Elliott’s performance at the end of last year left a bad taste in the mouths of those who had the back on their fantasy football teams. In the final eight games of the regular season, Elliott averaged just 42 rushing yards per game.
But it’s important to note that Elliott partially tore a knee ligament in Week 4, so his late-season struggles can generally be attributed to injury.
Now, Elliott has lost his spot as a top running back option in the eyes of many fantasy football experts. So is he worth drafting, or should you avoid adding him to your fantasy roster?
Let’s take a closer look:
Ezekiel Elliott Average Draft Position (ADP)
Here’s the ADP for Elliott according to some of the major fantasy football outlets:
- CBS: 36
- Yahoo: 29
- FantasyPros: 27
- RotoWire: 30
Elliott’s ADP projects him as the 16th running back off the draft board in standard scoring leagues, which has him going late in the second round to early in the third round depending on the number of teams in your fantasy league.
This is a far cry from where Elliott used to rank among fantasy running backs. The former Ohio State Buckeye was a top-tier RB1 option through his first four seasons, but took significant steps back in 2020 and 2021.
Cowboys offseason moves
Dallas moved on from some valuable pieces of its offense in 2021. The most notable departures are wide receivers Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, who, respectively, accounted for the second and third most receiving yards on the team last year.
Now, Dallas will be relying heavily on Elliott and CeeDee Lamb to produce on offense. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has commented throughout training camp that Elliott remains the focal point of the Cowboys offense, saying “we go as Zeke goes”.
Jones making such comments would indicate that there are no concerns about his health heading into this season. Elliott was even clocked at running 22 MPH during OTAs.
One thing that scares many fantasy footballers from taking Elliott is the possibility that Tony Pollard has a strong season and takes snaps from Elliott. Considering Pollard has gotten an increased number of carries through each of his first three seasons while Elliott’s carries have declined in four consecutive seasons, it’s a fair concern.
But early in training camp, Mike McCarthy was quoted as saying Pollard will get playing time as a slot receiver this season. This will allow both backs to share playing time while helping create depth at WR for Dallas, which is currently a weak position group.
The final verdict
Jones’ comments show he’ll be as involved as ever in Dallas’ offense this season, and giving Pollard time at receiver will only allow Elliott to rack up more carries.
So the opportunities will be there, but the biggest concern is whether Elliott can stay healthy. Running backs have shorter careers than almost all positions in football because of the physical toll the position takes on their bodies.
Our advice: Elliott will have a productive season if healthy, but don’t reach for him in your drafts. If he falls to you in round three, consider selecting him.
But the continued digression he’s shown in the number of carries and overall stats the past few seasons is concerning. Plus, whiffing on early-round draft picks usually spells doom for fantasy teams.
Surely, you don’t want to shave your eyebrows or take the SAT, or whatever the trendy fantasy football punishments will be at season’s end.