In The Blitz, RotoViz writers react to the latest news and help you place it within the context of our 2020 research and recommendations.
It’s a wonderful feeling when patience is rewarded. That’s how I felt this weekend watching Tony Pollard finally receive a full workload and post incredible numbers. Since his rookie season, I’ve had my eye on Pollard when he earned comparisons to Alvin Kamara from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Following an efficient rookie campaign last season, I was sold on Pollard when Curtis Patrick tabbed him as a must-buy in dynasty leagues and provided compelling research.
Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard got the start in Week 15 with Ezekiel Elliott (calf) inactive due to injury. Pollard ran the ball 12 times for 69 yards and two touchdowns, adding six catches for 63 more yards. Pollard led the team in targets in the passing game with nine. One of his touchdowns came on a long 40-yard run, with the other coming on a one-yard goal-line plunge. It’s been mostly common knowledge that Pollard had league-winning upside if Elliott were to go down, but this was the very first time Elliott had missed a game due to injury. Pollard proved his believers right and should be a strong RB2 next week against the Eagles if Elliott remains on the bench.
Historical Efficiency Upside
A fourth-round rookie out of Memphis, Pollard played second fiddle to Elliott and his second consecutive 350-plus touch season in 2019. A true workhorse, Elliott did not cede many opportunities to Pollard, but when those opportunities presented themselves, Pollard capitalized in a big way. It was a small sample size, but there was a lot to like about him from a college production standpoint and the efficiency he employed as a rookie.
As mentioned, Curtis has been all-in on Pollard since early this year. As a rookie, he cites that Pollard averaged over 16 fantasy points/game when he hauled in at least two receptions. That explosive playmaking ability showed up time and time again in college, where he excelled as not only a rusher and receiver but as a return man as well. Curtis had the following to say about Pollard back in June when he listed him as a must-draft running back for 2020:
Pollard was a hyper-versatile stick of dynamite on the college football field.
Since the year 2000, only two players in college football amassed the following production profile:
- 100 career rushing attempts
- 100 career receptions
- 7 kick return touchdowns
The players: C.J. Spiller and Tony Pollard
Since 2000, only 26 players managed an individual season consisting of:
- 400 rushing yards
- 400 receiving yards
- 400 kick return yards
The list includes: Chris Johnson, Christian McCaffrey, Spiller, Joe Mixon, Randall Cobb, Reggie Bush, Saquon Barkley, and … Pollard
All Pollard needed was an opportunity, and all he’s done when he’s received that opportunity is produce for fantasy managers.
An Ascending Dynasty Asset
In August, Shawn Siegele slotted Pollard in at No. 6 in his Zero RB candidates for the 2020 season. He cited Curtis’s excellent work and went on to highlight how special teams touches are a positive indicator for college prospects transitioning to the NFL. He also highlights the work of Blair Andrews and the importance of rookie year efficiency for running backs, especially efficiency in the receiving department.
Fantasy managers who rostered Elliott this season are rightfully disappointed in their investment. The loss of quarterback Dak Prescott has hurt every aspect of the roster, and it hasn’t gotten any better in recent weeks.
Pollard has already been one of the most valuable standalone handcuffs in the league. Elliot entered 2020 after consecutive 350-plus touch seasons and, despite some character concerns and a brief holdout, recently signed a significant six-year contract worth $90 million. He’s scheduled to remain with the Cowboys through the 2026 season, but it will be interesting to see what happens this offseason with the organization. Regardless, Pollard made a big statement in Week 15 and should be viewed as an ascending dynasty asset for the foreseeable future.