By Ben Franklin. When it comes to the Ezekiel Elliott fantasy outlook for 2016, it’s in part, a tale of the tape. Ezekiel Elliott is 6’0” tall, 225 lbs. Elliott has posted two straight 2,000-plus, all-purpose yard seasons including 41 touchdowns. He’s tallied two straight 1,800-plus yard rushing seasons. Ezekiel Elliott has 650 plays from scrimmage. Elliott is 20 years old. He enters the NFL with all the bells and whistles of a quality every down running back. And, these are just the numbers of Ezekiel Elliott.
There’s also those other things. Ohio State running back and Dallas Cowboys first round pick. Workhorse, pass-blocker, most NFL ready running back, best running back of his draft class, and countless other descriptions. The title that’s most important now, “starter.”
Ezekiel Elliott will still be fighting to prove himself in the NFL and earn the starting role from Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Yet, there is no arguing that some of the Cowboys’ stars are entering their twilight years, including the aforementioned McFadden and Morris. The Cowboys have tons of talent on both sides of the ball, but at a few critical positions, they are aging. Thanks to the 2016 draft, take running back off of that list.
Elliott may have carried a heavy work load in college, but he is still just 20 years old and strong enough to carry the team. With the football intelligence and physical skillset he possesses, he will be tormenting NFC east opponents for years to come.
Going into the draft, the Cowboys had Darren McFadden coming off a revival year in which he wasn’t the starter for 6 games but still amassed over 1,000 yards rushing. He looked re-born, quick, smart, and ready. Think of what the younger Elliott can do. To add depth, the Cowboys also added Alfred Morris, a veteran division rival from the Redskins.
The Cowboys are looking to get back to the dominant running game they had with Demarco Murray back in 2014, when he set the Cowboys’ single season rushing record with 1,845 yards rushing. The Cowboys are looking for the punch, the power, and the threat they had with Murray.
Behind what is still one of the most dominant offensive lines in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott has a good chance to be the next great Cowboys running back.
For fantasy purposes, even by sharing some of the carries, Elliott should be on a pace to gain 1,000 to 1,100 yards rushing and tack on up to 200 yards receiving with 6-8 TDs. Barring injury, Elliott should push to finish as a Top 10 fantasy running back. He’ll be a second to third round draft pick in most fantasy drafts.