The past two even-numbered seasons in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott has won the league rushing title. Here are Elliott’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season as well as his over/under yardage total.
Elliott was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Ohio State. As a rookie, Elliott became just the third running back to rush for 1,000 yards after just the ninth game of his career, joining Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson. Zeke finished as the NFL’s top rusher with 1,631 yards, which was the 47th best season all-time, the third most by a rookie (behind Eric Dickerson’s 1,808 in 1983 and George Rogers’ 1,674 in 1981), and the youngest player to reach 1,600 yards. His 15 TDs were second-most by a rookie.
In 2017, Elliott was limited to 10 games due to a suspension for an off-field incident and didn’t reach 1,000 yards for the only time in his career. The next year, Elliott led the NFL in rushing again with 1,434 yards despite sitting out one meaningless game. He added six rushing scores with 77 receptions for 567 yards and three touchdowns. His 2,001 scrimmage yards ranked second behind only Saquon Barkley (2,028). Zeke earned 47.9 percent of the Cowboys’ offensive touches, second-most in the NFL behind only Cardinals running back David Johnson (48.3).
Before the 2019 season, the Cowboys made Elliott the highest-paid running back in league history at the time with a six-year, $90 million extension. Elliott had held out of training camp waiting for a new deal. Elliott proved worth the money last year in rushing for 1,357 yards and a career-high 12 TDs. He also caught 54 passes for 420 yards and two scores.
Some could argue that backup Tony Pollard was more effective with his limited touches during his rookie season than Elliott was last year. Pollard’s 5.3 yards per carry ranked third in the NFL and Elliott’s 4.5 (17th). However, just 12% of Pollard’s 86 carries came with 8-plus defenders in the box while Elliott saw almost 20% stacked boxes in his 301 carries. Elliott has logged 133 more carries than anyone else in the league since arriving in the NFL.
Last month, Elliott tested positive for the coronavirus but is feeling normal at this point. He was asymptomatic and only tested after coming into contact with someone who tested positive
“I would say I had maybe one or two days when I felt symptoms,” Elliott said. “Even then, it wasn’t too bad. I had a cough and a little bit of shortness of breath. Now, I feel good. I feel normal.”
As cases of positive tests for the virus mount, he said he was concerned about the safety of players, with the NFL preparing for a return to training camps in July amid the pandemic.
“I just feel like there’s a lot of moving parts that have to be figured out,” Elliott said. “I just don’t know how they can keep the players [healthy]. You gotta put the health of the players first.”
It sure seems like trouble tends to find Elliott, though. He is on the receiving end of a 2020 lawsuit that alleges his dogs attacked a pool cleaner at his residence and the plaintiff is seeking sizable financial recompense for what she describes as “immense pain” that sent her to a local emergency room in March, after she claims the animals bit her “multiple times.”
In addition, Elliott is threatening to sue Sports Illustrated after the magazine ran a column online with the headline, “Ezekiel Elliott Forgets to Log Off, Admits to Being High on Twitch: Traina Thoughts.” Elliott said he was “low-key faded,” slang that is sometimes associated with being under the influence of alcohol and marijuana simultaneously. Elliott made the “faded” comment after appearing to forget to log off Twitch, the popular video game streaming platform.
Dallas is a 2.5-point favorite for Week 1 at the LA Rams.