This story has been told a hundred times before, and it almost always ends the same way. Whether it was Le’Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette, or any other big-name running back who joined a new team in free agency, the acquisition usually turned out to be better on paper than it did on the actual field of play.
While this is extremely frustrating for the organizations that sign those backs and their fans, it can also be hugely disappointing for fantasy football managers banking on these ball carriers shining in a new situation.
Two new star running backs will be entering this age-old cycle this upcoming season: Ezekiel Elliott with the New England Patriots and Dalvin Cook with the New York Jets. Both of these men have carried their fair share of fantasy teams to league titles in their former glory days, but it’ll be a long shot for either of them to return to the cream of the crop at their positions with their new teams.
It’ll be a much steeper hill for Elliott to climb than for his fellow free-agent escapee. While Zeke has remained a steadfast workhorse for the Dallas Cowboys and for fantasy managers for seven straight seasons, he’s been steadily declining at an alarming pace since his second-team All-Pro year in 2018, when he garnered over 2000 yards from scrimmage across his rushing and receiving attempts.
Since then, he’s failed to top that number and hasn’t eclipsed over 1400 yards from scrimmage more than once, dropping in total yards each and every season. Last year marked his worst season to date with just 968 scrimmage yards, as he saw a significant amount of his opportunities handed off to Tony Pollard.
Ezekiel Elliott Stats
For Dalvin Cook, his greatest obstacle has always been injuries, as he’s played in over 14 games in a season just once in his career: last season. Despite that good fortune, Cook put up only 1468 scrimmage yards, well short of his totals in 2019 and 2020, despite playing in three fewer games in both of those seasons.
Having Aaron Rodgers under center as opposed to Kirk Cousins should open more running lanes for Cook, but unless the New York Jets have a markedly better training staff than the Minnesota Vikings, taking a chance on Dalvin Cook is far from a sure thing in this upcoming fantasy season.
With Elliott and Cook joining new offenses and missing all of training camp with their new teams, there’s a plausible chance that neither of them has a great season.
My 2023 Fantasy Football Rankings (Updated)
-Did another full update to the rankings to account for the Dalvin Cook & Ezekiel Elliott signings, as well as some changes after the first week of preseason action. https://t.co/zeBaPJgfQ7 pic.twitter.com/WeGdJumVe1
— Justin Boone (@justinboone) August 15, 2023
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| Title: Why Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook are fool’s gold in fantasy football this year
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: August 16th, 2023