The long standoff between Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys is over, as the Cowboys finally signed the running back to a six-year, $90 million contract extension on Wednesday.
Obviously, this is a massive move for the Cowboys, as they are now legitimately a darkhorse Super Bowl contender, whereas without Elliott, they might not even be a playoff team.
But how much of an impact will Elliott make in Dallas’ season opener against the New York Giants this Sunday?
Well, Jane Slater of NFL Network has reported that the Cowboys plan on giving Elliott 20-25 reps.
Keep in mind that that is not 20-25 touches; it’s 20-25 reps, meaning snaps.
Whether or not that ends up being the case, who knows. It seems rather unlikely that Dallas would leak its gameplan, and it could even be gamesmanship on the Cowboys’ part to make the Giants think that Zeke won’t be a huge factor.
But it is important to note that Elliott did not participate in training camp and did not play in a single preseason game, so to expect the two-time Pro Bowler to have as much of a workload as we are used to is probably out of the question.
So, yes; there should be some concern about Elliott’s viability in Week 1 for Fantasy Football.
Again, we don’t know for sure what Dallas’ gameplan is, and we probably won’t know until kickoff, but it seems unlikely that the Cowboys will hand the ball off to Elliott 25 times after having not played in any live action since last January.
The Cowboys seem to like rookie running back Tony Pollard, and they also have veteran Alfred Morris in tow.
Expect Dallas to at least give some carries to Pollard, and it’s entirely possible that Morris gets some touches, as well.
Taking everything into consideration, it might not be all that wise to start Elliott and expect him to rack up big numbers right off the bat. Yes, he has been training in Mexico, but you can’t simulate a live game, and he also probably has to learn some of the wrinkles that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has thrown into the offense.
I’m not saying the Cowboys won’t end up using Elliott a lot, but it’s probably safe to exercise caution in this situation.
Of course, it also might depend on the status of the game. If Dallas is locked in a tight battle with New York throughout the entirety of the contest, then it stands to reason that Zeke will get more touches than one might expect.
But if the Cowboys get out to a big lead early or are comfortably ahead throughout the game, then expect more work from Pollard and less snaps before Elliott.
It’s a tricky situation overall, as Elliott is clearly an elite Fantasy running back and would normally be a sure bet to start in any week, but circumstances are a bit different this time around, and unfortunately, Jason Garrett and the rest of Dallas’ coaching staff do not care about your Fantasy team, so they aren’t going to spill the beans this early.