Ezekiel Elliott will turn 25-years old before the regular season begins. He was born in Alton, Illinois, to two athletic parents. His father (Stacy) played defensive end and linebacker while his mother (Dawn) competed in the heptathlon as student-athletes at the University of Missouri.
In high school, Elliot was not only athletically driven but even more so academically. He played in four different sports, including football, basketball, baseball, and ran track. He was a star running back for the John Burroughs football team and, in his junior year, won offensive player of the year, after rushing for 1,802 yards, 34 touchdowns as well as catching 23 passes for 401 yards and six scores.
Elliot took his senior season to another level, where he rushed for over 2,100 yards and 50 total touchdowns. Elliot led his football team to three straight state championships, unfortunately losing all three.
Elliot also stood out as a track and field athlete, where he was elite in sprinting and hurdling. He recorded several state championships in Missouri and won Gatorade track athlete of the year for his state.
By the time he finished high school, he was considered a four-star recruit by ESPN and listed as the 11th running back in the nation in 2013. He chose Ohio State even though his parent's alma mater Missouri gave him an offer.
Elliot served as back up to starter Carlos Hyde as a true freshman at Ohio State but also served as a governor on special teams. With Hyde heading to the NFL in 2014, Elliot took over as the starter and had an impressive season.
In 15 games, he ran for almost 1,900 yards, 18 touchdowns, as well as catching 28 passes for 220 yards. Elliot was also impressive in the Sugar Bowl against the number one ranked team in the country Alabama. He ran for over 230 yards on 20 carries. In the National Championship versus Oregon, he put up 246 yards on 36 carries and scored four times in the blowout victory. By dominating two teams in championship games, propelled him to win the MVP.
In Elliot’s junior season (2015), he rushed for over 100 yards, including 274 in one game versus Indiana. He posted five separate games where he rushed for over 200 yards in college. Elliot finished second all-time at Ohio State in yards per game with 101.6, behind Archie Griffin.
While Elliot would forgo his senior season and enter the 2016 NFL Draft. The scouting reports detailed his rare combination of size, athleticism, pass-catching, and blocking skills. Elliot is just under 6 feet tall and weighs 228 pounds while running a 4.4 40-yard dash. The Dallas Cowboys would select Elliot with their fourth overall pick in the first round.
Elliot was impressive in his 2016 rookie season, rushing for 322 times for over 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns as well as catching 30 passes for over 360 yards.
The 2017 season did not start well. Elliot violated the personal conduct policy that stems from domestic violence charges from the year before on his ex-girlfriend. The suspension lasted six games. Elliott would finish the season with nine total touchdowns and 983 yards while catching 26 passes. A down season for the All-Pro athlete.
Upon Elliot’s return in 2018, his dominance returned by rushing for over 1,400 yards and scoring nine times. He also added 77 receptions for 567 yards. The Cowboys would enter the playoffs as a number four-seed in the NFC.
2019, Elliot, once again, was impressive. He went over 300 carries for the second season in a row (a rarity in today’s NFL) and gained over 1,300 yards while scoring 14 touchdowns. He added 54 receptions for 420 yards, proving to the Cowboys why his $90 million deal with over $50 million guaranteed was worth it.
Elliot has not suffered many injuries throughout his impressively extensive career. Based on my (Dr. Morse) research, I could only find two injuries over the past six years.
In August 2014, Elliott suffered a fractured wrist during practice that required surgery. He underwent a similar procedure to stabilize the wrist in early 2015, likely after the season ended.
Then in August 2016, he was struggling with some hamstring tenderness and missed a little time, but this did not affect him throughout the entire season.
A hamstring injury is prevalent as guys start to transition from off-season to pre-season and ramp up their explosiveness significantly. The good news is that Elliot has never suffered a hamstring injury during any of his regular-season games, which is impressive for a running back of his caliber.
In 2020, all things seem status-quo for another exceptional season for Elliot. His typical 1,300+ yards and nine-plus total touchdowns. Elliot could explode for more, especially since he is the Cowboys key in the red zone. Elliot’s ADP is the third back off the board and the sixth overall player.
Elliot’s ceiling is high. Touchdowns could come as much as 15+; he did have 16 total his rookie season. Elliot can achieve 2,000 all-purpose yards and finish over 300 fantasy points and finish as the best fantasy running back by the end of the season. All of these factors are possible.
The floor is also high for Elliot. He has over 300 carries in three of his four seasons, and the only season he didn’t is because he played just ten games. Elliot had 242 at that point. Anyone with this many carries is in significant trouble of getting hurt or having their fantasy production drop low. With that said, Elliot will get the volume of carries and reception targets to secure his floor from dropping out.
The Cowboys offensive line is middle-tier in their inside zone scheme. Zack Martin made first-team All-Pro, and Tyron Smith has played at a Pro-Bowl level. Travis Frederick's retirement will hurt, and they have Joe Looney to replace him. La’El Collins is the right tackle, and Dallas drafted Tyler Biadasz in the fourth round.
The Cowboys offense that surrounds Elliot is one of the best. Not only does Dak Prescott lead the way, but Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and rookie CeeDee Lamb are all explosive. These receiving weapons should take defenses away from stacking the box. Blake Jarwin is a serviceable tight end.
Sports Injury Predictor states that Elliot has a 48.8% chance of injury in 2020, projecting him to miss 1.4 games in 2020. This would be the first time in several years despite rushing for over 300 attempts in three of his four seasons.
Zeke is, by definition, a workhorse running back who has been elite at every stage of his career throughout his entire life.
It’s safe to say that through four seasons, Elliot has easily been a top-three running back and has continued to improve with each year. The targets are increasing for Elliot. He has gone from approximately 40 a season in his first two years, to nearly double that over the last two.
Choose Elliot in the first round if you feel the risk of the number of carries he had in the past won’t catch up to him, and Dr. Morse has no concern that it will. His risk score is low, one out of 10, and he is easily an RB1 on your team. Sign me up!
Injury Risk: Low. 1/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Aug 2, 2016||Thigh Hamstring Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Elliott dealt with a sore hamstring in camp. He missed time in the preseason, but it didn't affect him when the games counted.|
|Aug 8, 2014||Hand Wrist Fracture||Elliott suffered the injury in pre-season practice. He underwent surgery on August 9, 2014, and had another procedure to stabilize the wrist in early 2015.|