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Whose Job is it Anyway? Fantasy Football Running Back Outlooks for Ezekiel Elliott, Jeff Wilson, Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White

Tony Pollard - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

In this article, we'll take a look at three backfields that could be seeing a changing of the guard right before our eyes. In Dallas, Tony Pollard has been spectacular in Ezekiel Elliott's absence, but can he remain the "starter" even when Zeke returns?

In Miami, Raheem Mostert had been the guy all season, but then the Dolphins traded for Jeff Wilson Jr. at the deadline. It's only been two weeks, but has Wilson solidified his role as the feature back in Miami?

And in Tampa Bay, has Rachaad White finally passed Leonard Fournette on the depth chart, or will Uncle Lenny get his starting gig back after having some passport issues ahead of the Bucs vs. Seahawks game in Germany? Whose job is it anyway!? Let's dive in.

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Dallas Cowboys Backfield

Tony Pollard vs. Ezekiel Elliott

It's been the Tony Pollard show the last two weeks with Ezekiel Elliott out due to a knee injury. In Zeke's absence, Pollard has averaged 27.8 PPR fantasy points, finishing as the RB4 and RB8 respectively in Weeks 8 and 10. In Week 8, he played just 53% of the snaps due to the Cowboys destroying the Bears. However, in Week 10, Pollard was a workhorse, getting 28 opportunities on an 87% snap share.

Zeke started this week as a limited participant in practice and has a chance to return in Week 11 when the Cowboys travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. However, just because he returns doesn't mean Pollard goes back into a bottle. He's been entirely too good all season to revert back to a secondary role.

In the last two games Elliott played, Pollard saw RB opportunity shares of 50% and 48.3%. This season, per PlayerProfiler, Pollard is sixth amongst running backs in true yards per carry (5.3), third in yards per touch (6.4), sixth in breakaway run rate (8.7%), and 18th in juke rate (29.7%). In comparison, Zeke is 42nd in true yards per carry (4.0), 51st in yards per touch (4.1), 48th in breakaway run rate (1.8%), and 44th in juke rate (18.3%).

Zeke's efficiency metrics have been on a sharp decline since 2021, while Pollard has gotten better with increased opportunities. Even when Elliott returns, expect Pollard to see at a minimum 50% of the RB opportunities in the Dallas backfield. Understandably (due to Zeke's large contract), Jerry Jones always wants to feed Zeke, but it's going to be awfully hard to keep Pollard off the field going forward.

A timeshare of sorts should be expected, but it wouldn't be shocking to see Pollard out-snap Zeke in an effort to keep Elliott healthy for the stretch run of the 2022 season.

Fantasy advantage: Tony Pollard

 

Miami Dolphins Backfield

Jeff Wilson Jr. vs. Raheem Mostert

The Dolphins traded Chase Edmonds to the Broncos and subsequently acquired Jeff Wilson Jr. from the 49ers at the trade deadline. Wilson was reunited with his former offensive coordinator in San Francisco in Mike McDaniel.

In his first game in Miami, McDaniel wasted no time getting Wilson involved in the game plan. In fact, he played on 44% of the snaps and had a 52.2% RB opportunity share. So immediately, he got more opportunities than incumbent starter Raheem Mostert. Not only that, Wilson ran the same number of routes as Mostert (13), and even got more red zone carries (3 vs. 2).

Then Week 10 happened. Wilson was thrust into a featured role, getting 64.7% of the RB opportunities. He put up a cool 22.3 PPR fantasy points on 22 total opportunities (17 carries + five targets). He ran 16 routes compared to just seven for Mostert.

Despite Mostert's hot start to the season, Wilson was able to step right in and supplant him as the feature back in Miami. As a result of his early success, expect McDaniel to go right back to the well after the Bye, with Wilson playing on a majority of the snaps and seeing a majority of the RB touches moving forward.

Fantasy advantage: Jeff Wilson Jr.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Backfield

Rachaad White vs. Leonard Fournette

White has been eating away at Fournette's opportunities in recent weeks, but in Week 10, he finally got the start overseas in Germany. White commented that the opportunity may have arisen due to Fournette having some passport issues. I'll go on the record saying that's just White being politically correct in answering the question of why he was given the start.

Either way, White has improved each and every week this season and has slowly chipped away at the every-down role Fournette owned early in the season. In the first three weeks, Fournette averaged 23 opportunities on an 84.7% snap share. In his last seven games, Fournette has played over 65% of the snaps in just two games. He's also seen fewer than 12 opportunities in three of those games.

Meanwhile, we've seen the exact opposite with the rookie running back. White's opportunities have increased as the season has rolled along, and he's proven to be a very good complimentary piece to the veteran Fournette.

His biggest opportunity came in Week 10 when he got the start and Fournette had to leave the game early due to a hip injury. White rushed 22 times for 105 yards. Two of those carries went for 18 and 29 yards respectively. In comparison, Fournette's longest run this season has been just 17 yards. And check this out:

Oh, and take a look at what trusted Bucs beat writer Greg Auman had to say about White vs. Fournette after the team comes out of their Week 11 Bye:

Fantasy advantage: Rachaad White



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