What once seemed like a pipe dream is now a reality: Tony Pollard is the undisputed RB1 in Dallas. The Cowboys reportedly plan to part ways with Ezekiel Elliott this offseason, something fantasy managers have been clamoring for ever since the former fourth overall pick showed signs of slowing down. Zeke is now free to sign elsewhere — and he’s still a competent power back and pass blocker — while Pollard will presumably have to stave off another RB addition. Let’s break down the fantasy implications of this news.
Old projection: 198.8 carries for 894.5 yards and 6.4 TDs, 44.3 catches on 58.4 targets for 379.7 yards and 1.9 TDs
New projection: 218.2 carries for 981.8 yards and 7.1 TDs, 46.4 catches on 61.1 targets for 397.8 yards and 2.0 TDs
- We are still factoring in the possibility (and, honestly, the most likely outcome) that the Cowboys add another back. When Elliott missed two games earlier in the year, Dallas really only turned to Pollard as a workhorse in one of those games (87% of snaps and 22 carries). In the other game — which they admittedly won by 20 — Pollard had 14 carries to Malik Davis‘ eight and played only 53% of snaps. Cowboys coaches have been on record saying they don’t want to pound Pollard up the middle every play. With that in mind, it’s sensical for them to add another back — likely someone who is archetypically similar to Zeke and can handle a respectable rushing workload while leaving the electrifying plays in space to Pollard.
- The big question for Pollard will be whether he’ll get goal-line work over whoever they sign. He should be the primary pass-catching back and lead the team in carries, but Dallas should be a high-octane offense once again, and the addition of a bigger-bodied back could threaten Pollard’s workload in tight. TP will be their best and most-trusted back plain and simple, so he’s likely the favorite for that role, but it’s something to monitor throughout the summer. If he gets goal-line carries, it’s wheels up for Pollard, as he’ll be getting all the high-value touches in one of the best offenses in the league. For now, we wait and see who else they sign or draft.
- Zeke will likely sign elsewhere in a power-back role. He can still be useful in short-yardage scenarios and as a pass protector, so there’s certainly a path where he sees the field a lot, but it’ll be difficult for him to hit a high-end fantasy season as a between-the-tackles grinder who likely won’t contribute much as a receiver. He could have some TD-driven spike weeks if he lands with a good offense.