Is Zeke an elite RB heading into the 2021 season?
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot had a career-low single-season performance in the 2020 season. Elliot muscled out a career-low rushing yards per game (65.3), career-low rushing yards per attempt (4.0), and a personal career-low single season rushing touchdown mark (6). It’s safe to say that Zeke’s signature “feed me” gesture wasn’t regularly used.
Zeke will have his sights set on a stronger rushing effort next season and hope to successfully prove his six-year – 90 million contract extension signed in 2019 was worth it. Zeke should prove to be a reliable, talented RB for his Cowboys offense led by the healthy Dak Prescott at QB. However, there is a question worth pondering: will we see the 2019 Zeke (1,378 rushing yards) or a RB closer to the 2020 version? Is Zeke truly going to show he’s a Top 5 back again?
With that being said, I’m going to outline the Top 10 RBs heading into next season and where I believe Zeke stands amid the NFL’s top RBs.
- Derrick Henry
The clear top RB in the league is 2020 Offensive Player of The Year Derrick Henry. Henry joined fellow Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson as the second Titans ball carrier to have a 2,000 yard rushing season. Henry was just recently named as ESPN’s top RB in the league. The 6’4 240 RB will not see even see fewer defenders in the box with Julio Jones at the wideout position.
- Christian McCaffrey
The second-best RB in the league belongs to one of the few RBs ever to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. CMAC will be healthy and seeking vengeance with his new QB in 2021.
- Dalvin Cook
Dalvin Cook is one of the most electric RBs to play the game in the last decade. Cook has battled nagging injuries, but that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the most productive RBs in the NFL. Cook is coming off a very impressive (1557 yds, 16 TDs), despite missing two games.
- Alvin Kamara
Cook and Alvin Kamara are both coming off fantastic seasons and appear to be at the utmost prime of their careers. Kamara proved his contract right with 1,688 total yards and 21 total touchdowns last season. AK was even named ESPN’s second top RB in the league.
- Saquon Barkley
ESPN had Saquon Barkley pinned as the No. one RB headed into the 2020 season, but Barkley suffered a devastating leg injury in just Week 2. Barkley fell to number sixth on ESPN’s top ten RB list heading into the 2021 season, but I believe his talent at this stage in his career is enough to keep him labeled as a top 5 back.
- Nick Chubb
It doesn’t matter who Nick Chubb has next to him in the Browns backfield, he will be a very efficient RB at all times. Chubb averaged a whopping 5.6 YPC, unleashed 1,067 yards, and cranked out 12 touchdowns in 12 games last season. Chubb’s rushing success over the past few seasons is why an NFL exec boldly stated that he is the best pure runner in the league.
- Josh Jacobs
I believe that Josh Jacobs is right in the prime of his career. He’s consistently hard to bring down and he doesn’t slow down when defenses adjust to make him the priority. Jacobs may not be on a sexy team, nor coveted by a season of All Pro honors, but he’s shown to be an elite, reliable talent. Jacobs is 23 years old and he’s due to unveil a career season in 2021 or 2022.
- Ezekiel Elliot
The Cowboys RB is surely a Top 10 RB headed into the 2021 season. ESPN puts Zeke at number seven, but I don’t believe he’s the same player he was and he’s capable of returning to a 1,300+ rushing yard season. The RB with 979 rushing yards last season should be around a 1,100 yard back moving forward, but I believe his prime is behind him and Dak’s return would justify him over the names mentioned above him.
- Joe Mixon
I like Joe Mixon’s pure RB ability and his outlook moving forward. Mixon should capitalize off the improved Joe Burrow in the offense. I believe the RB that missed 10 games last season but unleashed 1,100+ yards in each of the previous two seasons, should be placed in the Top 10.
- Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor and Aaron Jones are tight for this spot, but the Colts RB with 1,169 rushing yards, 5 YPC, and 11 rushing touchdowns deserves to grab a spot. Aaron Jones is a talented all-around back, but It’s very possible that the strong Colts RB ousts a 1,300 yard+ season in 2021.