Ezekiel Elliott Rushing Yards Prop: A Case For The Over And Under In 2021

Written By Brett Gibbons on July 7, 2021
Ezekiel Elliott fantasy

2020 wasn’t kind to Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys running back finished with career lows in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, attempts per game and yards per attempt. Ezekiel Elliott fantasy hopes were dashed, along with season-long prop bettors who took overs.

Injuries to the offensive line created huge holes and evaporated rushing lanes. A season-ending injury to Dak Prescott erased the Cowboys’ passing threat and created stacked boxes.

DraftKings Sportsbook has released season-long rushing yard totals for a swath of players, including Elliott. Let’s take a look at the rushing totals, cases for betting the over and under and Ezekiel Elliott fantasy implications.

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Ezekiel Elliott 2021 Rushing Yards Total

DraftKings Sportsbook has Elliott’s season-long rushing prop is set at 1150.5 yards (over ). With a new 17-game regular season, that’s a per-game average of 67.7 yards per game– just 2.4 yards over his 2020 per-game average. A good rule of thumb when considering running back totals is that they will miss a start or two.

In five seasons, Elliott has started all 16 games just once (2019) and has started 15 games three times. Missing just one game in 2021 would be a per-game average of 71.9 yards. If we accept that, Zeke would have finished ninth in rush yards per game in 2020. However, that would be his second-worst per-game average of his career.

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The Case For Betting The Over

The most immediate case for taking over Zeke’s 1150.5 rushing yards is the return of Dak Prescott and, in turn, the balance to Dallas’ offense. In 2020 under Andy Dalton, the Cowboys were 5th-worst in net air yards per pass attempt and 8th-worst in passer rating. Prescott led the NFL in passer rating and yards before his injury. Without the fear of a lethal passing game, defenses were able to stack the box and shut Zeke’s running lanes down. With Prescott back in the lineup, it frees up running lanes for Elliott.

While backup Tony Pollard ate up some of Zeke’s touches in 2020, the Cowboys will surely look to Elliott often and early to take some of the pressure off Dak. It is worth noting, however, that Dallas faces the seventh-hardest strength of schedule for running backs in Weeks 1-4. That figure comes from fantasy points allowed a season ago (yards, touchdowns, receptions).

Despite having an extra game, Ezekiel Elliott plays about 15 games per year. At that pace to hit 1,150.5 yards, Zeke would need a 14.9% increase in rushing yards. He saw 13.7% less carries in 2020 than his career average and had 11.1% fewer yards per carry than his career average. With all of these figures pointing toward a positive regression in nearly every category, we can expect Ezekiel Elliott to come close to– if not over– his projected rushing total.

The Case For Betting The Under

Ezekiel Elliott’s rushing yards have never been better than his rookie season, where he amassed a league-leading 1,631 rushing yards on 322 carries (108.7 yards per game). Since then, he missed six games his sophomore year (suspension) and then led the NFL in rushing with 1,434 yards on 304 carries. Since then, his yards per carry has declined every season.

Another major factor that could affect Ezekiel Elliott fantasy expectations and his yardage output is his declining attempts per game. In his first three seasons, Zeke averaged 22 attempts per game. In 2019, that number dropped to 18.8 attempts per game and then a career-low 16.3 in 2020. The determining factor? Dallas drafted running back Tony Pollard in 2019, who has seen 101 and 129 total touches. That’s caused Pollard to be schemed into several packages and takes Zeke off the field more often.

Moving into 2021, Tony Pollard should see, at minimum, his 2020 work. Pollard actually recorded more yards per touch than Zeke in both seasons with the team.

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Ezekiel Elliott Rushing Yards: Where To Go From Here?

The obvious answer here is to buy back into Ezekiel Elliott fantasy stock. Just once in his career has Zeke averaged fewer than 84 yards per game (his 2020 season, which included a banged-up line and an injured Dak). Even if you average out his previous career-low yards per game (2019, 84.8 yards/game) and his 2020 per-game average (65.3)– creating a bottom-third season for Zeke– his per-game average is enough to break the 1,150.5 at 16 games.

The only question left to ask yourself is whether Elliott will play 16 games and whether you believe Prescott will keep the offense among the upper tier in the league.

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Brett Gibbons

Brett is an avid sports traveler and former Division-I football recruiter for Bowling Green and Texas State. He’s a graduate of BGSU and works as an auditor for Google content curation products. He’s also contributed to Sports Illustrated and Fansided during his young writing career.

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