Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott has scored at least 1 TD in 7 straight appearances, a stretch dating back to his Week 6 meeting with the Eagles. Elliott hasn't simply gotten lucky, though. Since his Week 11 return from a knee injury, only Austin Ekeler has seen more total red-zone opportunities. Elliott has also logged 15+ carries in 6 straight games and 10 of 12 games for the season. He carried just 13 times in the 1st Eagles matchup but averaged 6.2 yards per rush. Philly arrives to the rematch still just 20th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA.
The Patriots made Ian Rapoport's Sunday Ezekiel Elliott report look like a lie. The NFL Network reporter said New England planned to give Elliott "starter reps" against his old team. That amounted to 6 carries and 3 targets in the 38-3 loss. Elliott totaled just 22 yards and watched Rhamondre Stevenson beat him 16-8 in touches. We'll see what gets reported about the Patriots backfield heading into Week 5, but Elliott's 3.9 yards per touch so far this season certainly don't scream that he needs to get the ball more. Stevenson managed only 40 total yards against the Cowboys. The New England backfield gets a tough matchup with New Orleans in Week 5 before a better spot at Las Vegas in Week 6.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Patriots RB Ezekiel Elliott will get "starter reps" in today's game against the Cowboys. Regardless of whether he technically starts, that means increased work against his old team. Elliott carried 16 times in last week's win over the Jets but still trailed Rhamondre Stevenson (19) in a run-heavy game plan. Don't be surprised if we get another rushing lean against Dallas, which arrives ranked 20th in run-defense DVOA and third-best against the pass. We've moved Elliott up the Week 4 rankings, where he could be a low RB2 or flex option this week. We'll see what this means for Stevenson's role, but we're not knocking New England's top back out of fantasy-starter range.
On Tuesday, ESPN's Mike Reiss tweeted that Patriots RB Ezekiel Elliott saw "a notable uptick in work" in practice behind starter Rhamondre Stevenson. Reiss specified that Elliott received increased usage as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Granted, this is only one report. We don't want to overreact or make any big takeaways here. The former All-Pro saw a career-low 23 targets with the Cowboys last season and likely won't be too much of a threat to Stevenson in that department. That said, we'll keep an eye on future reports should Elliott continue being utilized as a pass-catcher in practice as it could cut into the point scoring ceiling of Stevenson. He fell a smidge in our PPR RB rankings following Zeke's signing, but we still feel confident Stevenson will be the clear RB1 in this offense. Check back for further updates as we get more information.
The Patriots are unsurprisingly happy so far to have RB Ezekiel Elliott on board. (Otherwise, why would they have signed him?) Coaches have praised his football intelligence and communication with new teammates. The most noteworthy comment, though, seems like OC Bill O'Brien telling ESPN's Mike Reiss, "I do think he's a three-down back." Elliott's receiving fell way off last year, from 2.8 receptions per game in 2021 to just 1.1 in 2022. He also saw the second-fewest pass-blocking reps of his career, according to Pro Football Focus, trailing only a 2017 season in which Elliott was suspended for six games. This might be a throwaway comment from O'Brien. We'd be shocked if New England actually treated Elliott like a challenger to Rhamondre Stevenson's pass-game snaps. But we'll also keep watching for specifics on the new old guy's role. There remains plenty of separation between Stevenson and Elliott in our 2023 PPR rankings.
The Patriots are set to sign RB Ezekiel Elliott to a one-year deal worth "up to" $6 million, NFL Network reports. We'll see about the actual details of the contract but doubt the base value is anywhere close to $6 million. Elliott's name is much bigger than his game at this point. The 28-year-old averaged a career-low 3.8 yards per carry last season, ranking 43rd among 48 qualifiers in NFL Next Gen Stats' Rush Yards Over Expected Per Attempt. His usage and production plummeted in the passing game, too. Elliott caught just 17 of 23 targets for 92 yards (5.4 YPC) and 0 TDs. The Patriots have been flirting with free-agent RBs for a while now -- seemingly in large part because depth RBs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris have failed to emerge. The Elliott signing is more about those guys than lead RB Rhamondre Stevenson. Zeke's arrival adds some risk to Stevenson's 2023 fantasy outlook. But Stevenson was more effective by basically any metric last year -- as a runner and pass-catcher -- and should remain the Patriots' clear backfield leader. Elliott looks more like a Stevenson handcuff than standalone fantasy option. But we'll keep an eye on New England's plans.
Update: Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the deal carries $3 million in base salary, $1 million in signing bonus, and incentives that can take it to $6 million.
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