Tony Pollard and the Future of the Cowboys’ Backfield: 1 Big Thing from Week 11
Image Credit: Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Tony Pollard.

In 1 Big Thing, Blair Andrews uses the RotoViz tools to take a deep dive into an interesting, unique, and potentially actionable development from the last week of fantasy football.

Tony Pollard led all Week 11 running backs in receiving yards, scrimmage yards, and fantasy points. He added two receiving touchdowns. He’s been an RB1 in each of his last three games. That hasn’t been too surprising before Week 11, since those were games that Ezekiel Elliott missed. But Elliott was active in Week 11, and even saw 15 carries (the same number as Pollard). This prompts the obvious question: are we witnessing a changing of the guard in Dallas?

The Decline and Fall of Ezekiel Elliott

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Elliott is not the same back he once was. At the very least, he doesn’t appear to have the ceiling he enjoyed in his first two seasons.

Not only is his ceiling lower, but so is his floor. Notice the dramatic increase in performances at an RB3 level or worse. Whereas such performances were rare for Elliott early in his career, they have become much more commonplace in the last three seasons.

Elliott’s Loss of Efficiency

A large reason for the decline is the lack of efficiency. Elliott hasn’t averaged even 1.0 fantasy points over expectation per game since 2019. In fact, his average over the last three seasons is negative.[1]

Elliott’s Loss of Opportunity

This has, unsurprisingly, translated directly into fantasy scoring. The last time Elliott averaged even 16 PPR points per game was in 2019. Following his inefficient 2020 season, he also started to lose more opportunity. While Elliott ranked inside the top six in EP per game in every season from 2016 to 2020, in 2021 that rank dropped to No. 14. In 2022, he sits at No. 24.

Tony Pollard Is the Anti-Elliott

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Most of that is due to a disastrous 2020 in which he averaged 2.9 fantasy points below expectation.

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Blair Andrews

Managing Editor, Author of The Wrong Read, Occasional Fantasy Football League Winner. All opinions are someone else's.

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