After releasing Dez Bryant, star wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys decided to completely revamp their receivers lineup. On top of that, Jason Witten, one of the best tight ends chose to retire, and the team brought in few guys to fill those spots. As a result, it is a good question how many actions will go over Ezekiel Elliott.
With all the changes that are made on the roster, it is clear that America’s Team will heavily rely on running game, and we know who the #1 man in that segment is. What is currently speculated is how much load can Zeke carry throughout this season. While we can only guess that, there are few things from the history of the league that we could take into consideration.
Looking at the NFL figures it is clear that only five players had more than 400 carries in a season. Those guys are James Wilder, Jamal Anderson, Eddie George, Eric Dickerson and Larry Johnson that has done it in 2006 and no one managed to reach that figure since then. We don’t expect Elliott to breach that 400 mark.
In 2014, DeMarco Murray, carried the ball 392 times for Cowboys and they finished 12-4. Backups in 2014 were Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle meaning that coach didn’t have a lot to work with loading Murray as much he could. At this moment Dallas has Rod Smith and Bo Scarbrough, and they could take some snaps.
In 2016, the total number for Zeke was at 322 carries, but there were both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten on the team. That year, backups were Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris, so we think that Elliott will surpass that 320 mark.
There are a few more things that we need to factor into this equation. Injury and suspensions, hopefully, those will not hit Zeke, and he will have a clean season. Anything under 300 carries will be considered a bad joke, and a lot of things depends on the efficiency of the passing game. With many new pieces on the board, it will be interesting to see how will that work. In case Dak doesn’t bounce back from a mediocre season, Zeke will get even more play time.
Our best guess is that we will see something between 360 to 380 carries for this season. This a lot for one player, but Elliott is still young, and he certainly can take that load. With a good snaps distributions between him, Smith and Scarbrough it is possible for the team to perform like a well-oiled machine.