NFL Player Props: Zeke to bounce back with fine 2021 season
2020 wasn't what we'd come to expect from Ezekiel Elliott but with an over/under line of 1150.5 yards at SugarHouse in NJ - our Neil Monnery spies a betting opportunity...
It would be fair to call Ezekiel Elliott’s 2020 season a bit of a disappointment. The former Buckeye had been one of the most dominant running backs since being drafted in the first round by the Cowboys back in 2016. Last year however saw him only churn for 979 yards on the ground - his lowest number of his five-year career so far.
Yet there were extenuating circumstances. Andy Dalton stepped in for Dak Prescott at the QB position and with defenses less concerned about the passing game, they were able to stack the box to stop Elliott. Also the offensive line that had been the strength of the Cowboys for several seasons took a big step back. With holes not being opened up and an extra defender in the box, the chances of success in the running game were greatly diminished.
2022 though should see both of those issues resolved. Dak Prescott returns after that compound fracture to his right ankle. He’s set to be 100% going into the season. With a top caliber QB at the helm and a good top three wideouts in CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michal Gallup - opposition defenses are going to have to choose whether to stop the run and leave these guys one-on-one.
Also the o-line on paper should be significantly better and more like the Cowboys’ line that we have grown used to seeing. Tyron Smith and La’el Collins were both missing for large chunks of the season with the latter not taking a single snap. Zach Martin was banged up most of the year so was nowhere near his All-Pro best. If all three come back and play towards what we would expect - it will open up holes for Elliott to run through.
Of course this all relies on the 26 year-old to still be in good shape. If you read articles from pretty much every player in the offseason they say they are more motivated than ever and in the best shape of their lives. That is just a given. Whether it is true or not is a very different kettle of fish.
I get the sense that it might be true in this case however. That 2020 season hurt his pride and he’s dedicated himself to returning to his former elite status at the position. He’s lost 10lbs and is 218lbs coming into training camp. Having also worked with a personal running back coach for the first time in his career in the offseason, he’s worked on short-area quickness and getting that initial burst. The early talk coming out of Cowboys’ training camp is that he’s in terrific shape.
SugarHouse in NJ have set the line at 1150.5 rushing yards on the season for Elliott and I’m very much buying and taking the over. Last year was the first time he’s played a full season and dipped below that number - heck his previous lowest for a full campaign was 1,357 yards in 2019. With a chip on his shoulder and a healthy o-line - Zeke is going to be a star this year both in real life and in the fantasy world.
Pick: Over in the Ezekiel Elliott Rushing Yards Market (1150.5 yards) at -112.