Dallas Cowboys: A fantasy football analysis of Ezekiel Elliott

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after completing a pass against Jarrad Davis #40 of the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after completing a pass against Jarrad Davis #40 of the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott has had a solid season, but is he trending up or down in terms of fantasy football stock value?

Hello Dallas fans and fantasy football players alike, as we hit the mid-season mark we are left with a ton of questions. For Ezekiel Elliott owners and Dallas Cowboys fanatics it appears to be what is going on with this offensive line, and how come Elliott is not more productive.

Let’s address some of these issues and get to the root of what is really going on.

Quick question, what do Todd Gurley, James Conner, and Ezekiel Elliott all have in common?

They all are averaging 4.7 yards per carry on the season. The only number one running back with over 100 carries averaging more yards per attempt is Joe Mixon and he only has 105 carries. Melvin Gordon is averaging 5.1 yards per attempt but currently sits at only 91 carries.

Basically, this says that Conner, Gurley, and Zeke are the most effective and efficient running backs between the tackles, on the goal line, that is a whole different matter. Elliott only has three touchdowns on this season which has hampered his fantasy value a bit.

I mean realistically the Dallas Cowboys are still figuring out who they are on offense so it makes sense to see the multiple ways they score every week. Teams have also been on the lookout for Elliott in goal-line situations often forcing the offense to pass the football instead of hand it off to number 21.

In comparison, players like, Cam Newton, David Johnson, Sony Michel, Alex Collins, and Isaiah Crowell have more touchdowns. Does that not seem a bit odd to you? Well it is, the Cowboys offense just has not been clicking as it is hard to run the football against stacked boxes and easy to defend when, situationally, your running game is easy to predict.

That should all change with the introduction of Amari Cooper as he is a true real life wide receiver one. In fantasy he is more of a low-end WR2/WR3 however for Dallas he should prove to be more effective than Dez Bryant.

He will force that extra defensive back to cover him, opening up the middle of the field for Elliott a bit. Make no mistake about it, the Dallas Cowboys feed Ezekiel Elliott a lot as his 132 carries on the year make for third most in the NFL only behind Kareem Hunt and Todd Gurley, oh and by the way, the Cowboys had a bye last week.

Elliott is second in attempts per game averaging around 19 carries per contest only second to Todd Gurley. It is the same situation when looking at rushing yards, Elliott is second to Gurley and no other running backs in the NFL. Elliott is on pace to break 1200 yards this season so his red zone usage can only go up from here.

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He is also the only back behind (once again Todd Gurley) in terms of average rushing yards per game for players over 100 carries. Currently, Elliott is recording 88.4 yards per contest which is pretty impressive considering the obstacles he has faced. He has gone up against some of the best run stuffing teams in the NFL (Jacksonville, Washington, Seattle, and Carolina).

When he has had a good matchup (once against the Detroit Lions) he can pile on the yards resulting in a highly productive day both on the ground and in the air. With the Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles (twice), and the Washington Redskins looming, Elliott’s matchups don’t lessen in difficulty except for three contests prior to the end of the regular season.

Those games being against the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, and Atlanta Falcons, two of them happening during the fantasy playoffs. When you look around at the running back position in fantasy, there is not a lot of help elsewhere.

Elliott is also ranked in the top ten (8th to be exact) in terms of fantasy points accumulated throughout the season. He is behind Melvin Gordon, James White, Kareem Hunt, James Conner, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and of course Todd Gurley.

Elliott also remains in the top 20 when it comes to receptions however the Dallas Cowboys should have a couple of new plays for Elliott in the passing game following the bye week. It is clear that the plan is to push Cooper, Prescott, and Elliott as the primary offensive weapons for the remainder of the season.

You cannot scoff at that value especially with a talent as incredible as Elliott. This is an important time in football, trends are recognized, players evaluated, and offenses adjusted. This is particularly the case in fantasy as the trade deadline is quickly approaching.

If you look at the top backs and the situations they are in, only two jump out as players who could produce more than Elliott during the second half of the season, Saquon Barkley and Todd Gurley.

If you look at Kamara, Conner, Gordon, or White, their situations are not as solid. Kamara will continue to seed work to Mark Ingram, Conner could lose his job if Le’Veon Bell ever decides to come back to work, Gordon has been dinged up lately, and White will have to contend with Sony Michel stealing carries.

Elliott is truly a top three back because of his ceiling, not his floor. The mandate with the Dallas Cowboys has to be run the football, period. That is the only way Prescott can be productive.

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Defenses should be a bit less likely to stack the box now that Cooper will be lining up on the outside, so his fantasy production should improve as the weeks go on.

  • Published on 11/02/2018 at 22:00 PM
  • Last updated at 11/02/2018 at 12:09 PM