It’s okay to overreact after Week 1. It’s especially okay to be pissed after your first-round workhorse put up an opening night dud. Ezekiel Elliott did not finish with an impressive stat line, but by no means should you be slamming the panic button. In fact, if you’re not a Zeke owner, you should be trying to buy-low on the Cowboys’ workhorse and take advantage of your panicked league mate.
Here’s why Ezekiel Elliott is a hold and a buy-low candidate:
- Snaps are key: Elliott only had 11 carries in Week 1 — the second-lowest total of his career. However, he was on the field for 70 of the Cowboys’ 84 snaps. For comparison sakes, Tony Pollard only saw 20 snaps. Kellen Moore threw the rushing plays out of his playbook, but Elliott owners should be optimistic with his snap total. He simply got schemed out of the offense.
- Bucs’ run defense is elite: Let’s get it straight. No one runs on the Tampa Bay Bucs’ ferocious front-seven, led by the monstrous Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea. The team has had the league’s No. 1 ranked run defense in back-to-back seasons, allowing only 73.8 rushing yards per game in 2019 and 82.7 rushing yards per game last season. It was clear early on that in order to keep up with Tom Brady, Moore needed to abandon the run game
- Pass-heavy game script: To bypass the Bucs’ gigantic front, Moore schemed up some short passes, such as swings and screens, to replace the running game. Prescott targeted Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb 31 total times and finished with 451 yards of total offense. The Bucs’ secondary was also banged up. They were without starting safety Jordan Whitehead and starting cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting suffered a dislocated elbow in the first half. It would have been nice for Elliott to catch a few more passes, but the offense wasn’t the issue in Week 1.
On limited carries by Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, Mike McCarthy says is a result of “defensive matchups we are seeing” per the TV broadcast.
— Brianna Dix (@briannadixNFL) September 10, 2021
- Tony Pollard didn’t do much either: It’s clear Pollard is talented, but this is still Elliott’s backfield. The third-year back only had three carries and caught all four of his targets on the night for 43 total yards. It didn’t matter who was in the backfield, the Bucs kept both running backs in check.
All-in-all, Elliott needs to be locked into your lineup moving forward. He will miss La’El Collins for five games, depending on his appeal status, but he’ll get All-Pro G Zack Martin back from the COVID-19 list. Zeke could also get more passing game involvement with Michael Gallup sidelined for three to five weeks with a calf injury.
Looking forward to Week 2, Zeke will look for running room Week 2 against a talented Chargers front-seven that gave up 127 yards on the ground to the Washington Football Team. Then, he’ll get the Eagles in Week 3, who let up over 100 yards to a Falcons team that trailed throughout the game.
Relax and check back on Tuesday night for The Wolf’s Week 2 Rankings.