2021 Comeback Player Candidate: Ezekiel Elliott! Put Some Respect On His Name

The NFL offseason is already underway and this is around the time folks begin to start dropping their takes for the 2021 season on what players they like, dislike, will perform well, or bounce back. Last season, I did a segment on The Fantasy’s Phinest podcast for some of my choices for my 2020 Comeback Player Candidates where I talked about some guys who I felt could rebound from a down season prior to the start of the new one. Whatever better way to kick off the 2021 offseason than with a guy folks are starting to really sleep on after one bad season. Enter Ezekiel Elliott.

The Zeke slander is getting out of hand and I don’t understand why.

Yes, even Ezekiel Elliott would admit that he had a down season even by his own standards. In fantasy, it was a significant drop in production as well considering that most took Zeke inside the top 5 among running backs during the 2020 fantasy season. Despite the off season, Elliott still managed to finish inside the top 10 with an RB 9 placement. He ran for 979 yards and scored 8 total touchdowns on the season while still, somehow, managing to rush for 4 yards per carry despite having an injury riddled offensive line for most of the season.

Even though he finished inside the top 10, Zeke still only averaged nearly 15 fantasy points per game. That lands him at 26th overall among fantasy running backs. Not good for a guy you took high in the 1st round of the fantasy draft after finishing 3rd overall at the end of 2019. Elliott had to deal with quite a bit during the 2020 season that could have attributed to his lackluster performance. Losing most of your offensive line, the fumbling issue, then losing your franchise QB to a season ending injury, all while the defense is constantly getting beat down on the ground and giving up points left and right doesn’t help things either.

Dallas was constantly on the wrong side of game scripts as teams would pile up points forcing the Cowboys to play catchup and lean heavier on the pass. On the season, Dallas turned into a pass heavy offense, having to throw the ball nearly 60% of the time according to FFToday.com. It also didn’t help that Elliott was only averaging 15 carries a game, totaling just 244 carries for the season and the lowest in his career to date. Factoring these things into the slight fall of his ADP, which is currently at 1.10 per FantasyFootballCalculator, makes sense as to why people think that Ezekiel Elliott is finally beginning to fall off the face of the running back platform.

That’s also the reason why you shouldn’t pass on him next season.

As mentioned before, Elliott had to deal with a bunch of obstacles that most running backs wouldn’t be able to get pass. With a new season brings new opportunities to right the wrongs from a down season. Elliott has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with after some have questioned everything from his resolve, his weight, and his dedication to improve. Mind you, if I looked like Elliott at 256 LBS or whatever it was that folks were complaining about him weighing in 2019, I’d take it. Elliott came back from Cabo when he held out for a new contract and started Week 1, with no training camp, and proceeded to run over defenders averaging 4.5 yards per carry and finishing 4th in rushing yards with 1,357. Again, that’s without training camp!

Now heading into the 2021 season with a chip on his shoulder, as well as an offseason ahead of what could be a full training camp, Zeke is set to bounce back in a big way. Granted, the Cowboys QB situation has yet to resolve itself as the front office continues to play chicken with the Dak Prescott, the guy they laud in the media as “our guy” but have not started negotiations with despite being able to since Week 17 was the end of the season. One way or another, Dak will be under center preferably under a long-term deal. That would only further help Ezekiel Elliott’s case for a comeback season.

Don’t sleep on Elliott in 2021. Even if you factor in the presence of Tony Pollard helping out the backfield, it still belongs to Elliott. Be sure to pay close attention to his value as we get closer to the 2021 Draft season. It could very well fall into the 2nd round with newcomers Cam Akers and Jonathan Taylor garnering rising stock as fantasy owners will go “gah gah” over the shiny new toys landing in fantasy running back position.

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