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.
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.
The Cowboys remain “in the mix” to re-sign RB Ezekiel Elliott, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. New England, meanwhile, remains “highly interested” in the 28-year-old. Elliott, Leonard Fournette, and Kareem Hunt all remain free agents as of Monday afternoon.
Free agent RB Ezekiel Elliott reportedly visited the Patriots on Saturday, per multiple reports. The team hosted fellow free agent RB Leonard Fournette on July 18, and are rumored to be linked to Dalvin Cook as well. HC Bill Belichick and company seem keen on adding veteran depth to this backfield to accompany incumbent starter Rhamondre Stevenson. The more this possibility drifts toward reality, Stevenson looks like a potential fantasy loser just one year after recording career bests in touches (279), total touchdowns (six), and scrimmage yards (1,461). Though Elliott has slowed down in recent years, he's posted at least 230 carries in every season of his career dating back to 2016. How good the former All-Pro will be entering his age-28 season is its own matter. Regardless, we'll be sure to monitor this situation should any sort of deal materialize. See where each of these players appear in our current RB rankings.
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