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 Cowboys have decided to release long-time former Pro Bowl RB Ezekiel Elliott after seven seasons spent with the franchise. This move will save the Cowboys $10.9 million in cap space. Elliott entered the league in 2016 and immediately led the league in rushing yards (1,631) as a rookie. For as good as the affectionately nicknamed Zeke has been as a pro, his production has seen a precipitous dropoff over time. 2022 saw Zeke post career lows in rushing yards per game (58.4), total touches (248), and PPR fantasy PPG (12.4). It's certainly feasible that Elliott can latch on somewhere as the hammer in a committee, but it's tough to imagine he'll have much of a market entering his age-28 season. This move does, however, free up RB Tony Pollard to take on the lead role in the Cowboys' backfield. The soon-to-be fifth-year back averaged 15.6 PPG en route to an RB8 overall finish in PPR in 2022. Whispers of the Cowboys' interest in Texas RB Bijan Robinson might put a damper on the prospective upside of Pollard. However, if the franchise opts to pair Pollard with another RB of lesser acclaim, he should have a highly productive season in 2023 and find himself well within the RB1 conversation. The absence of Elliott is now one hurdle cleared for Pollard, the RB16 in our dynasty rankings.
The Athletic's Bob Sturm writes that the consensus opinion from analysts and scouts is that Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott "has very little left in his legs." Zeke isn't even 28 yet but has amassed well over 2,000 touches through 7 NFL seasons. He posted career lows this past year in yards per carry (3.8) and yards per catch (5.4), while ranking outside the top 30 RBs in Pro Football Focus' rushing and receiving grades. The Cowboys are reportedly hoping to get Elliott to agree to a pay cut to stick around for 2023. We'll see how that plays out over the next few weeks. Elliott is cheap in early best-ball drafts, with a current Underdog ADP of RB37. But he's not an exciting pick even at that price point.
The Cowboys named Brian Schottenheimer their new OC. He spent this past season in Dallas as an offensive consultant. HC Mike McCarthy is expected to take over play-calling duties from the departed Kellen Moore, so we're not sure Schottenheimer's role will change much in 2023. He does have 12 seasons of experience as an NFL OC, most recently from 2018-2020 with the Seahawks. Those were run-leaning attacks, with 2 of the 3 finishing top 3 in rushing attempts.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott tallied 26 yards on 10 carries in Sunday's Divisional Round loss vs. the 49ers. It's difficult to project the veteran's future fantasy value looking ahead into 2023. Elliott has seen his average rushing yards per game drop year-over-year and concluded this season at a career-low 58.4 in 15 games. The Cowboys have an out in Elliott's contract with an $11.86 million dead cap hit that would enable them to move on if they choose to. That may sound like a lot of money to cut, but it's certainly a cheaper option than paying Elliott an average of around $16 million a year for the next 4 seasons. There's also the difficult situation of the franchise figuring out what to do with upcoming free agent RB Tony Pollard, who left Sunday's game with a fractured left fibula in the 2nd quarter. This will certainly be a backfield to watch in the coming months.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott tallied a mediocre 61 total yards on 17 touches in Saturday's win over the Eagles: 16-55 rushing, 1-6 receiving on 1 target. He scored the team's lone rushing TD, marking his 8th straight game with at least 1 score. Elliott has also carried 15+ times in every appearance since Week 7. He gets 1 of the league's worst RB-scoring matchups in the Titans in Week 17, however. That will challenge his usability in fantasy football lineups. RB Tony Pollard managed just 19 yards on 9 carries against the Eagles, adding 6 catches for 61 yards on 8 targets. Each of those receiving numbers ranked 2nd on the team. That aspect will make Pollard better suited for the Tennessee matchup.
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