Will Ezekiel Elliott Rush for 2,000 Yards During 2017-18 NFL Regular Season?
NFL Odds: Yes +1000, No -3500
Elliott led the NFL in rushing by a healthy margin last year. He ended the season with over 300 more yards on the ground than the next closest runner, Jordan Howard. Elliott never hit the rookie wall that so many rookies do and even broke through it by averaging 6.9 and 6.7 yards per carry in his last two games of the regular season. He finished the year with 1631 rushing yards total despite playing in only 15 games.
His total of 5.1 yards a carry for the season was one of the highest in the NFL. Elliott wasn’t run into the ground by coach Jason Garrett either with an average of just 21.5 carries a game. Garrett didn’t allow Elliott to carry the ball more than 30 times in any game all season and he finished the year with more than 25 carries in a game just twice.
There’s no question that the Dallas Cowboys have the best offensive line in the NFL. C Travis Frederick, RG Zach Martin, and LT Tyron Smith were all named First-Team All-Pro selections in 2016 and paved the way for Elliott to be successful all season.
What’s amazing is that the offensive line could have been even more talented too. LG La’el Collins only played a handful of games before being declared lost for the season after tearing a ligament in his right toe. Chaz Green was also seen as a potential starter at right tackle but a plethora of injuries derailed his 2016 campaign.
Doug Free filled in ably at right tackle just as he had his previous seasons in Dallas, but he retired this offseason. Green was seen as likely to usurp him this season, but has been unable to stay on the field because of injuries. He was a third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft but has only been able to play in four games in his career. The team signed Byron Bell to give the position depth, but he too is an injury risk. Bell missed all of 2016 after fracturing an ankle in offseason workouts.
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The Cowboys offensive line has the potential to be not just the best unit in the NFL, but the best unit in Cowboys history and that’s saying something. If Collins can stay healthy, he is an elite talent at guard and that means this team could potentially have four First-Team All-Pro selections along the offensive line.
Offensive line health is a major factor, but another one will be the play of Dak Prescott in his second season. Prescott had a solid rookie campaign and played well enough to earn a Pro Bowl nod. He made good decisions most of the season, but his numbers did dip at the tail end of 2016. Prescott only threw for over 215 yards once in the team’s last six games. If that continues into 2017 and it’s obvious he’s having a sophomore slump, the team will have to rely on Zeke more often.
It’s crazy to call for someone to run for 2000 yards, but everything is lined up for Zeke. His offensive line is fantastic and it’s conceivable that Prescott takes a small step back in 2017. For critics saying that Garrett won’t allow Elliott to be overworked, consider this. 400 carries in a season is considered the death knell for running back, but none of the seven previous 2000-yard runners hit that mark. At 10-1 odds, Elliott is a decent bet to break 2k.
NFL Prediction: Ezekiel Elliott Over 2,000 Rushing Yards