Rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott is being hyped up all over the Dallas media and practice fields, but Is all the hype leading to him being overvalued in the betting odds this offseason?
Dallas’ Running Back Core
Before Memorial Day the Dallas running back core looked to be one of the deepest in the NFL. However, an unfortunate accident to Darren McFadden left the oft-injured running back with a broken elbow and a “couple of months” timetable. McFadden had a nice bounce back 2015 where he rushed a career-high 239 times for nearly 1100 yards and he added another 40 catches and 328 yards through the air.
The Dallas Cowboys, though, unimpressed and probably rightfully skeptical of McFadden’s season went out and paid Alfred Morris. Morris had a down 2015 but he is still averaging 4.4 yards per carry in his career, and the 27-year-old should easily have a role in the Dallas backfield.
However, the Cowboys weren’t done, because they drafted Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall. Elliott has been talked up everywhere, and even MMQB’s Peter King thinks he is ready for 375 carries. Even 350 carries would easily net him the over is he averaged over three yards per carry, but I am skeptical for many reasons.
For starters, it would be incredibly irresponsible for the Cowboys to give Elliott even 300 carries. A number between 200-250 is more likely for the rookie. He could easily struggle in the beginning, and the Cowboys should be interested in preserving him considering they spent the fourth overall pick on him.
On top of that, McFadden should be back by the time the season starts and he is still one of the better-running backs in the league when healthy. McFadden’s season from last year should not go overlooked in Dallas and Morris’ potential as a goal line and short yardage back leaves Elliott to a first and second down back if all Dallas’ running backs are healthy.
There is little chance that Elliott reaches over 1110 yards on just 200 carries this season, especially if they are just using him on first and second down. Dallas still has a prolific pass attack as well and I expect them to throw the ball a lot if Tony Romo remains upright.
The last thing working against Elliott is his recent domestic violence allegations. He could be completely innocent, but if he isn’t and a suspension and/or court case are in the future, you know he isn’t reaching the over on this prop. Combine that with the plethora of Cowboys running backs and their likely desire to keep him fresh, Elliott is an under NFL Pick for me at this point.
The sportsbooks are telling me Elliott is going to have one of the best rookie running backs of all time with his yards prop and I just don’t see it. He isn’t going to see the workload that Todd Gurley got last season and he definitely won’t be underutilized like David Johnson was, but it will end up somewhere in between there. I see Elliott with around 950 yards on 220 carries this season.
Free NFL Pick: UNDER 1110.5 rushing yards (-110)
Best Line Offered: at Bet365