The closer we get to the start of the 2022 fantasy football season, the more fantasy football drafts we see completed and the more questions people have regarding certain players. You can take a look at the fantasy football player rankings and get a feel for things so long as they are routinely updated like we do here in our free fantasy football draft guide. You can also look at things like fantasy football ADP and fantasy football mock drafts to help gather some public opinion, but there is still that inkling of doubt/concern that creeps into your mind. This is why we are doing this series of fantasy football player debates – to answer those questions.

One of the biggest concerns for fantasy players is how to view and what to expect from Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. We know the history and we know that Tony Pollard is there, so are we still drafting Zeke too high? Andrew Cooper and Kevin Tompkins duke it out today to help you make your draft day decisions.




Draft Ezekiel Elliott at his Fantasy Football ADP with Confidence

by Andrew Cooper

This year with Ezekiel Elliott there is one crucial saying you should keep in mind - “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”. Everyone wants their running back and their situation to be perfect. No situation is perfect. Not even for Jonathan Taylor, who got fewer targets last year than teammate Nyheim Hines. And Jonathan Taylor goes first overall - we are talking about a guy here that goes at pick 35 on average so you can get him in the third and possibly even the fourth round. He’s RB16 in ADP.  Folks will bring up the Tyron Smith injury and Tony Pollard and they will claim Zeke has “lost a step”. And that’s fine. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

Sure Tyron Smith is out now and La’el Collins is gone but the Cowboys lost Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Blake Jarwin etc. for huge chunks of time in 2020 and Zeke was RB9 in PPR that year. Through the first few weeks, before they lost their starting quarterback, Zeke was RB4. Losing a tackle does not mean Zeke is a bad pick at ADP.

And of course Tony Pollard is going to play some. There are practically no running backs that play every snap. In the modern era, it’s about high-leverage snaps. Zeke is the better pass blocker so he plays on pass downs. Zeke played 526 pass snaps last year, Pollard played 216. Zeke is better in short yardage, so he gets the goal line work. Zeke had 17 carries inside the 10-yard line, Pollard had three. They say they are going to get Pollard on the field in the slot WITH Zeke on the field. That’s fine. As long as Jerry Jones is in charge, Zeke is the guy. If you don’t believe me, you can hear it from the man himself.

In that clip, Jerry Jones also says Zeke is in the best shape of his life. Which he was last year too after working out all off-season with Josh Hicks. He’s once again working out with the RB Guru. Last year, in Week 4 before Zeke tore his PCL, he recorded his fastest on-field speed since 2016. Does that sound like a guy who has “lost a step”? Through the first four weeks before the injury, he was averaging over 20 PPR points a game. And, despite playing with a torn ligament in his knee, he still finished as RB7. The fantasy gamer who finished second in Best Ball Mania on Underdog drafted Zeke and had him in his lineup for 15 weeks. Spike weeks be damned.

This isn’t a guy you need to take as the RB5 in your drafts this year. You can get him at RB16 and you can safely start him every week. He’s easily the best pick in that range for both floor AND ceiling. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. And Zeke is better than good - he’s finished as an RB1 in fantasy every single year he’s been in the league. He’s GREAT.



It's Time to Stop Drafting Ezekiel Elliott in Fantasy Football

by Kevin Tompkins

So I don’t know if you all have heard this piece of breaking news yet as we’re on the doorstep of Week 1, but avert your eyes: Ezekiel Elliott played much of 2021 with a partially torn PCL.

I know, right? I’m so sorry to have to break this news to you that surely nobody has heard before.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter.

We, as humans, get emotional attachments to things that have served us well over the years. Maybe it’s a pair of old jeans or a broken-in pair of shoes. What about a leather jacket from your high school days? It makes you feel nostalgic for “the good old days” long since passed.

But eventually, that old pair of shoes just gets old and doesn’t give you the same feeling it once gave you.

Sometimes, you just have to let go.

Elliott has given fantasy managers a lot of good times for years now, but he’s the fantasy football embodiment of that old pair of shoes.

Sure, Elliott hasn’t finished worse than RB14 in any season since entering the league in 2016, and that RB14 was the season he was suspended for six games. He’s been a workhorse for so long, with no fewer than 237 carries in any given season. In fact, his carries per game over the last four seasons have dwindled from 20.3 in 2018 to a career-low 13.9 last season.

That coincides with the rise of Tony Pollard, who seems to be the innocent bystander catching strays from the emotional responses people have when faced with somebody completely out on Elliott in 2022.

Never mind that Pollard’s efficiency has been much better than Elliott’s, with Pollard averaging a robust 5.5 yards per carry and 8.6 yards per reception in 2021. Only one running back in 2021 had a better yards per route run (Cordarrelle Patterson) than Pollard’s 2.01 among backs with at least 30 targets. Moreover, the offense was markedly better with Pollard on the field as his usage in the Cowboys offense has steadily climbed while Elliott’s has declined.

I talk about “assuming rational coaching” quite a bit when trying to decide why coaches do the things that they do. There might not be a worse case here than with Jerry Jones's influence on personnel and playing time. He gave Elliott a massive contract and wants to get every nickel and dime worth of that contract that he can. Unfortunately, that’s seemingly at the expense of the better player at this juncture of their careers, Pollard.

Elliott comes off of draft boards at RB16 in Fantasy Alarm’s aggregate ADP tool, while Pollard checks in at RB26, which equates to a Round 7 ADP. The price for Pollard is mildly prohibitive, but Elliott’s cost for a back that is declining in usage and clinging to red zone work as a buoy for his current value (35.1% of Elliott’s points came via the touchdown last season) is far more unreasonable.

Add in the fact that Tyron Smith will likely miss into November at the earliest this season with an avulsion fracture to his knee, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Think the team misses Conner Williams and La’el Collins — the two former Cowboy offensive linemen who left in free agency?

With Elliott, it’s just a pattern of multiple years of declining usage that will eventually catch up. The draft market is very sharp to Elliott’s declining peripherals, and they aren’t willing to pay more than a mid-third round price for Zeke on draft day. You could say Elliott is the drum major of the running back dead zone.

Don’t get caught up in nostalgia here with Zeke; the old pair of shoes don’t fit like they used to.

Now that you've heard both sides to the argument, which one speaks to you the most? Tell us on the Fantasy Alarm Twitter page!

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