Ezekiel Elliott had nothing but success in his football career, until last season.
Elliott was great in each of his first four Dallas Cowboys seasons. He was one of the best backs in football each season, but he experienced a major drop in 2020.
The Cowboys fell apart and Elliott was a big part of that. His yards per game plummeted from a career mark of 96.5 to 65.3. His backup Tony Pollard looked more explosive. It was a bad season.
There are plenty of legitimate excuses for Elliott's down season, and many good reasons to bet on him having a nice 2021.
Ezekiel Elliott coming off his worst season
Elliott's rushing yardage total for the 2021-22 season is 1,100.5 at BetMGM. That would be 64.7 rushing yards per game, even less than his career low last season and about 22 yards per game off his pre-2020 career average.
We can't discount the idea that Elliott is in severe decline and last season was the first sign of it. It can happen overnight for running backs, especially those with massive workloads like Elliott. Still, Elliott shouldn't be finished yet.
The Cowboys had massive injury issues on offense last season. Dak Prescott broke his leg. That meant defenses didn't need to respect the passing game the same way and could load up against the run. Three of the Cowboys' best linemen suffered major injuries. Zack Martin played 10 games, Tyron Smith played two games and La'el Collins didn't play any. No team can overcome losing three top-end offensive linemen. Also, the Cowboys defense was terrible and put the team in many pass-heavy game scripts, particularly early in the season.
Basically, everything was against Elliott. There's no denying he played poorly. Every stat for Elliott was down from any of his first four seasons. Yet, he's just 26. While "best shape of his life" stories are a laughable cliche by now, sometimes they are worthwhile. And Elliott has clearly dropped weight after a disappointing season.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) July 22, 2021
All of it adds up. Prescott is back. The offensive line is healthy, at least for now. The Cowboys should be better as a team and not have to pass for entire second halves of games. Elliott, with a strong track record of success and few durability concerns, is motivated and still at an age in which he shouldn't be falling off a cliff.
Also, BetMGM's number is low. It's scary to bet overs on running backs with the risk of injury, but the total for Elliott is so low relative to his career numbers that it's worth the risk. Bet on Elliott returning to close to a pre-2020 form.
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