Polarizing Players: Ezekiel Elliott

Polarizing Players: Ezekiel Elliott

This article is part of our Polarizing Players series.

In 2021, Ezekiel Elliott's full-season production was solid. He ranked eight among running backs with 1,289 scrimmage yards. He also scored 12 times and caught 47 passes. However, his play declined in the second half of the season, and he's now being drafted well outside the top-15 RBs in fantasy leagues. Is he a player in decline, or is he primed for another big season?

Upside

Elliott played with a partially torn PCL in his right knee most of last season. In his first six games, he posted at least 96 scrimmage yards in each, scored six times and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. But the injury, which he suffered in Week 4, took its toll, and he was limited to no more than 10 carries in five of his last nine games as he lacked burst and was no longer a big-play threat. When healthy, though, Elliott was still an elite player. According to offseason reports, he is on schedule to be healthy by training camp. Based on what we saw when he was at full capacity last season, a top-5 fantasy finish at his position is in play.

Downside

After handling at least 268 touches in each of his six seasons, Elliott turns 27 in July. If the Cowboys want him to be productive as he ages through the entirety of the six-year deal they signed him to in 2019, they could move Tony Pollard into a bigger role. Pollard totaled 1,056 scrimmage yards last season, and

In 2021, Ezekiel Elliott's full-season production was solid. He ranked eight among running backs with 1,289 scrimmage yards. He also scored 12 times and caught 47 passes. However, his play declined in the second half of the season, and he's now being drafted well outside the top-15 RBs in fantasy leagues. Is he a player in decline, or is he primed for another big season?

Upside

Elliott played with a partially torn PCL in his right knee most of last season. In his first six games, he posted at least 96 scrimmage yards in each, scored six times and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. But the injury, which he suffered in Week 4, took its toll, and he was limited to no more than 10 carries in five of his last nine games as he lacked burst and was no longer a big-play threat. When healthy, though, Elliott was still an elite player. According to offseason reports, he is on schedule to be healthy by training camp. Based on what we saw when he was at full capacity last season, a top-5 fantasy finish at his position is in play.

Downside

After handling at least 268 touches in each of his six seasons, Elliott turns 27 in July. If the Cowboys want him to be productive as he ages through the entirety of the six-year deal they signed him to in 2019, they could move Tony Pollard into a bigger role. Pollard totaled 1,056 scrimmage yards last season, and using a one-two punch in the backfield will help keep both players fresh and productive. But that would cut into Elliott's upside. Also, the team lost offensive linemen La'el Collins and Connor Williams in free agency while left tackle Tyron Smith is 31 (turns 32 in December) and has missed 20 of 33 games the last two seasons. Between a reduced workload and an offensive line that could be in decline, Elliott could struggle to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards.

The Verdict

Elliott has more risk this season than he's ever had. But he was elite for six games last year, and it's easy to see his sluggish finish was due to injury. He's still one of the best RBs in the league, and Dallas is plenty motivated to have him remain a big part of the offense, largely due to his massive contract. And Elliott is durable — last year's injury was the first significant one he's had in his career. Look for him to continue his string of 1,200-yard seasons and finish in the top 10 at his position.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Coventry
Coventry covers football for RotoWire. He started playing fantasy football in 1994 and won a national contest in 1996. He also nabbed five top-50 finishes in national contests from 2008 to 2012 before turning his attention to DFS. A published author, Coventry wrote a book about relationships, "The Secret of Life", in 2013.
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