3-Point Stance: Zeke Elliott isn’t the slam dunk No. 1 overall choice
As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Friday’s topic: The Dallas Cowboys.
Ezekiel Elliott, who totaled an obscene 1,994 combined yards and 16 touchdowns as a rookie, lived up to his enormous promise and then some. Few fear a sophomore slump, but OVER or UNDER Elliott overall pick in standard formats 2.5?
Liz – UNDER. I’m taking Elliott ahead of Bell. Why? Because I want fresh legs. And Zeke has ‘em. Le’Veon just went under the knife in March to repair a groin injury. And he’s consistently battled knee and foot issues. I’d prefer not to tempt the bounce-back gods for another campaign.
The Cowboy may not get as much love in the passing game, but he seems more likely to deliver a sixteen-week season. I dig that sort of consistency. Plus with the recent addition of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant set to return, it’s unlikely Bell will average 6.25 catches per game again in 2017. Ultimately, both of these backs are studs, but if I’m picking at the two-spot, I’m taking the youngster.
Brad – OVER. Imagine you’re 10 sheets to the wind and stumble into the nearest Taco Bell. As you attempt to shake off the blur and examine the menu, every option, though comprised of similar ingredients, looks and sounds like the greatest edible item ever. Clearly it’s an extremely difficult decision. … That feeling is essentially how I view picking between David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Zeke this year. You really can’t screw it up. All are versatile volume rushers in fantastic situations. Only the dastardly injury imp could possibly thwart a top-flight season.
It’s agonizingly close between the trio, but, my order of preference is DJ, Bell and then Zeke. There isn’t a wrong answer, but the former pair offer more production in the receiving department. And DJ logged a 28-to-16 goal-line touch advantage over Jerry’s thumper in 2016. Again, I’m nitpicking. Elliott should finish north of 1,800 combined yards with 15-plus scores without breaking a sweat working behind Dallas’ nearly impenetrable offensive line.
Oh, and a XXL Chicken Grilled Stuft Burrito smothered in Fire Sauce, por favor. It’s the most appetizing laxative on the planet.
Dak Prescott, passed over time and time again in the 2016 NFL Draft, did his best Russell Wilson impersonation by defying the odds in his rookie season. A hot commodity off the waiver wire thanks to his scoring duality (23 passing TDs, 6 rushing), he finished QB6 in Yahoo leagues. FACT or ALTERNATIVE FACT: Prescott again tucks inside the QB top-10 when the dust settles on the 2017 regular season.
Brad – ALTERNATIVE FACT. This is sure to draw Anderson Cooper eye rolls from Cowboys Nation, but sophomore slumps happen. In a league where defensive coordinators and players constantly tinker and tweak adjustments to stonewall the opposition are often effective. Also, banking on a quarterback, who averaged just 3.6 carries per game, to match or eclipse six rushing touchdowns is an exercise in futility.
Unless Prescott chucks 30 TD passes, which seems highly improbable in an offense predicated on pounding the pigskin, he won’t crack the position’s top-10. My viewpoint isn’t a knock on the player. Prescott is wonderfully skilled and has a long, fruitful career ahead of him. It’s a simple example of common sense prevailing.
Liz – ALTERNATIVE FACT. As Brad said above, defensive coordinators know what’s up. That doesn’t mean Dak won’t win big for the ‘Boys, but his game will have to evolve in order to put up fantasy numbers. After all, he tallied fewer passing attempts than Alex Smith. For fantasy purposes, I want a QB that puts the ball in the air.
When actually on the field, Dez Bryant is one of the league’s most intimidating assignments. Unfortunately, various physical setbacks caused him to underwhelm in back-to-back seasons. FANTASY MADLIB: A song that best reflects how fantasy players will feel rostering Bryant is ______.
Liz – “RETURN OF THE MACK.” The rookies stole the show in Dallas last season. Between Dak’s rise and Zeke’s dominance, Dez’s bounce back went largely unnoticed. Hampered by injuries at the start of 2016, Bryant’s work on the field seemed cast off with the other Cowboy “olds.” But after the team’s bye, from Week 8 through Week 16, Dez threw up the X seven separate times, and was the fourth most productive fantasy player at the position.
Heading into his eighth professional campaign, with his QB and a stud RB firmly in place, the vet is set to produce. In fact, in 2014, when Dallas ran a similar offense, Bryant produced the highest TD total (16) of his career. Sure, injuries can happen, but Bryant’s reward is well worth the potential. Plus, this isn’t some wallflower, satisfied to slink into the abyss as the next generation overshadows his prowess. This is one of the most competitive athletes of his era. And he’s ready to return, mack style. FF: 78-1,167-9
Brad – “WITH OR WITHOUT YOU.” Full disclosure, I just saw Bono belt out this U2 classic at Levi’s Stadium on the revamped Joshua Tree Tour, but it definitely fits the context. Most fantasy owners can’t live with or without Bryant on their team. I’m undoubtedly one of them.
After three-consecutive monstrous seasons from 2012-2014 (91-1311-14 average), the wideout’s star lost its shine. Various setbacks and disappearing acts landed him outside the top-20 in followup campaigns. Due to physical downsides, Prescott’s unwillingness to force feed the former All-Pro and catch rate concerns (52.1, WR87 in ’16), it’s unwise to shell out a Round 2 pick for his services (17.1 ADP, WR10).