Ezekiel Elliott's 2020 Fantasy Value Helped, Not Hurt, Under McCarthy - Roto Street Journal
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Ezekiel Elliott’s 2020 Fantasy Value Helped, Not Hurt, Under McCarthy

Mike McCarthy‘s pass-happy Packers’ past has many worried for Ezekiel Elliott‘s 2020 fantasy prospects. Understandable, as he fed his lead RB 240+ carries only five times across 13 seasons with Green Bay (Ahman Green, Ryan Grant twice, and Eddie Lacy twice). Moreover, McCarthy has ranked Top-10 in total rushing attempts only once, while finishing in the bottom-half of the NFL in 12 of 17 seasons.

Yet, plenty of hope exists for Zeke, perhaps even for a career year.

Despite the lack of sheer rushing volume, McCarthy’s attacks have been consistently efficient. From 2016-2018, the Packers finished top 5 in rushing offense DVOA each year, and landed in the top 10 in this category every season dating back to 2013. Moreover, each of Green, Grant, and Lacy topped over 1,000 yards rushing across those five seasons as bonafide fantasy RB1s, and none of them can even sniff Zeke’s jock strap. Their outputs:

2006: Ahman Green (GB)-  312 touches (46 rec), att, 1432 tot. yards, 6 TDs

2008: Ryan Grant (GB)- 340 (18), 1319, 5

2009: Ryan Grant (GB)- 307 (25), 1450, 11

2013: Slim Eddie Lacy (GB)- 319 (35), 1435, 11

2014: Growing Eddie Lacy (GB)- 288 (42), 1566, 13

Then, dig a little deeper to McCarthy’s past as an offensive coordinator for the Saints, and you’ll have a hard time hiding your fantasy wood.

Across five years with New Orleans, McCarthy had Ricky Williams (2000-01) and Deuce McAllister (2002-04) at his disposal — far more comparable talents and styles to Zeke than anything he had in Green Bay. Their usage and outputs:

2000: Williams (NO, 10 games) –  292 touches (44 rec), 1409 tot. yds, 9 TDs (16 game pace = 467 (70), 2254, 14)

2001: Williams (NO) – 373 (60), 1756, 7

2002: McAllister (NO)-  372 (47), 1740, 16

2003: McAllister (NO)- 420 (69) (double nice), 2157, 8

2004: McAllister (NO, 14 games)- 303 (34), 1302, 9

Simply put: outside of his mismanagement of Aaron Jones in 2017-18, McCarthy has ridden workhorse-level talent into the ground when it’s provided.

These touch totals mirror, or even top, Zeke’s 355, 268 (10 GP, 429 full season pace) 381, and 355 across four seasons, and McCarthy will likely force-feed his stud RB centerpiece. He vows as much at his introductory press conference, gushing:

“I think first off with Zeke, he’s going to get the football. Let’s make no mistake about that,” McCarthy said. “I think you have to clearly understand when you saw the offense is going to make a quarterback successful, the best way to make him successful is a great run game. We clearly understand what we have here and how we could build off of that.”

The RB2, RB5, and RB4 across his three full seasons (suspended in 2017), Zeke should once again finish among the Top-Five RBs in 2020 under McCarthy. Should McCarthy feed him a Williams / McAllister style 370+ touches, Zeke would easily flirt with 2,000 total yards, 15+ TDs, and the RB1 crown.

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