One of the best ways to prepare for fantasy football dynasty drafts is to try and figure out what decisions a manager may face while on the clock. Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette are right next to each other in dynasty ADP. If faced with this conundrum, which one should you draft?
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Should I draft Ezekiel Elliott or Leonard Fournette at their current dynasty ADP?
As of May 2022, Elliott and Fournette were right next to each other in dynasty ADP according to Sleeper. While both are undoubtedly in the back halves of their respective careers, they still have the potential to be productive fantasy assets for a little while longer. If a fantasy manager is only looking to take one older running back in their dynasty startup draft, should it be Elliott or Fournette?
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys | ADP: RB24
Elliott burst onto the scene in 2016 after the Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft. He was an elite RB1 from the start, averaging at least 19.5 PPR fantasy points per game in each of his first four seasons.
Beginning in 2020, Elliott’s production started to decline a bit. His yards per carry dropped from 4.5 in 2019 to 4.0 in 2020. He failed to reach 1,000 rushing yards and only scored 8 touchdowns. This resulted in him averaging just 14.9 ppg.
In 2021, it was really a tale of two halves. Zeke’s 14.8 ppg suggests this is just who he is now, but he was averaging 19.1 ppg over the first seven weeks of the season. He averaged 5 yards per carry over that span as well. Then, over the final 11 weeks, Elliott’s production fell off and he averaged just 12.5 ppg. So, what happened?
Elliott is still only 27 years old, but it is fair to wonder if he’s starting to decline. This is a man with 1,938 career touches who has only missed three games in his career. Is Zeke just done? I’m not so sure.
We knew Zeke was battling a knee injury last season, but we didn’t learn until after the season that it was actually a partially torn PCL, which he sustained during Week 4. Had Elliott simply elected to not play, it’s highly probable he’d be viewed more favorably in the dynasty fantasy community than he is now. Instead, fantasy managers witnessed over half a season of ineffective play that is clearly impacting Zeke’s value.
Despite Tony Pollard being the superior running back for at least two seasons now, the Cowboys are committed to Zeke. He is going to be their workhorse once again. The question dynasty managers need to answer is whether Zeke can get back to being at least a mid RB1 and, even if he can, how much longer can he do it for?
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers | ADP: RB23
While Elliott’s path to superstardom was straightforward, Fournette has had a very different experience. He also went fourth overall to the Jaguars the year after the Cowboys took Elliott.
Fournette’s 2017 season was stellar. He averaged 17.7 ppg and finished as a mid-RB1. In fact, his first three seasons were all great. Fournette averaged 15.1 ppg in 2018 and 17.3 ppg in 2019.
What happened in 2020 was strange and set off an even stranger course of events. Despite coming off the best season of his career, the Jaguars cut Fournette in August. He quickly latched on with the Bucs and by the end of the season, usurped Ronald Jones as their feature back.
Although Fournette averaged just 10.2 ppg and missed three games due to injury, his scorching close to the season including the Bucs’ Super Bowl run had him positioned to be their RB1 in 2021.
Last season, Fournette absolutely smashed. He had the best season of his career from both a production and efficiency standpoint. Fournette averaged a career-high 4.5 yards per carry and averaged 18.3 ppg.
Fournette or Elliott: Who do you take in dynasty?
At 27 years old, Fournette may only have a couple of productive years remaining, but that’s no reason to ignore him. Sure, he has a history of lower body and soft tissue injuries, but he’s actually played at least 13 games in four out of his five professional seasons.
Elliott has been the far more durable back, but he’s also taken more punishment over the years. Fournette is the guy I like more in 2022, but his value is heavily linked to Brady, who is essentially year-to-year at this point.
Despite Zeke being a little bit younger, I prefer Fournette. At this point in each of their careers, I believe he is the better running back, both in real life and fantasy. Both are on elite offenses, but Fournette doesn’t have a true threat in Pollard behind him.
The Bucs also have a more consolidated offense. They will funnel the majority of their touches to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Fournette. In addition to Zeke, the Cowboys will feature Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Dalton Schultz.
I do think Zeke will have a better season if healthy, but I don’t see him returning to elite RB1 levels. Fournette can be an elite RB1 for the next 2 to 3 years. Therefore, I would take Fournette over Elliott in dynasty fantasy football drafts.