Tony Pollard’s Best Ball Fantasy Outlook: Can the Tennessee Titans RB Bounce Back in 2024?

Now with the Titans, can Tony Pollard rebound after a disappointing first season as the Cowboys' lead RB? Is he a value in early Best Ball drafts?

After three years of waiting, Tony Pollard finally got his chance at a full workload last season. Unfortunately, he left fantasy football managers wholly underwhelmed. Now a member of the Tennessee Titans, is Pollard worth selecting in Best Ball drafts?

Tony Pollard’s 2024 Fantasy Outlook

It was back on Oct. 19, 2020, that I first publicly stated Pollard was better than Ezekiel Elliott. For the next 2.5 years, I, and many other fantasy managers, were waiting for the day when the Dallas Cowboys would finally turn their backfield over to Pollard.

When the Cowboys cut Elliott and did not spend any significant draft capital on a running back, it was supposed to be wheels up for Pollard. We had seen him in a feature role before, and it was beautiful. Surely Pollard would be an immediate RB1 playing in one of the league’s best offenses … right?

In 2022, Pollard finished as the overall RB8, averaging 15.6 fantasy points per game. Of course, his efficiency was going to drop with the inevitable increase in volume, but who could’ve expected it to be this bad?

Last season, Pollard saw a career-high 252 rush attempts but averaged a career-worst 4.0 yards per carry. His target share increased for the fourth consecutive season, up to 11.1%, leading to a career-most 55 receptions. However, he turned that into just 311 yards. By comparison, he caught 39 passes each of the previous two seasons but with 60 and 26 more receiving yards, respectively.

Pollard averaged 13.1 fantasy points per game. He finished as the overall RB23 and was one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy. It was disappointing to see after his 2022 season was filled with explosive runs and efficient receptions, as well as 12 touchdowns on 232 touches.

In 2023, he touched the ball a whopping 307 times. Unfortunately, Pollard’s yards per route run plummeted to 0.86 (34th in the league), and a mere 4.4% of his carries went for 15+ yards (25th). His 3.16 yards created per touch was outside the top 35.

MORE: What Is Best Ball Fantasy Football?

The Cowboys scored 50 offensive touchdowns last season, their third straight season with 50+ scores. Yet, somehow Pollard managed to account for only six of them. Despite his inefficiencies, he should’ve scored at least 10 times on pure volume alone. Pollard had 72 red-zone touches and nine goal-line carries but scored just three times from inside the two-yard line.

One potential explanation for Pollard’s struggles was his recovery from the broken leg he suffered in the Cowboys’ Divisional Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Jan. 2023. Still dealing with the injury, Pollard said he didn’t feel like himself over the first half of the season.

Taking this at face value, fantasy managers would have a reason to be optimistic about a return to form in 2024. However, as Fantasy Life’s Ian Hartitiz pointed out, Pollard wasn’t exactly better over the second half of the season.

Should You Draft Pollard in 2024 Best Ball Leagues?

It’s weird to think of Pollard as an older running back. After all, 2023 was the first time he was given a starting job. However, Pollard is already 27 years old.

Of course, that’s not exactly old. Pollard can still produce at a high level. It doesn’t hurt that he has far less tread on his tires than your typical 27-year-old back.

The problem is it’s hard to envision Pollard ever seeing a better combination of situation and opportunity than he had last season. Pollard played on one of the best offenses in football in a backfield with virtually no competition. He thoroughly underwhelmed, forcing us to at least consider that perhaps he’s not cut out to be a three-down back.

Now, Pollard joins the Titans. The team that limited Derrick Henry to a 54.2% snap share is not about to make Pollard a three-down back. He’s going to share work with sophomore RB Tyjae Spears. The biggest challenge for fantasy managers is deciphering exactly how this backfield will play out.

When you look at Henry and Spears, everything makes sense. Henry is the power back, handling the dirty work and goal-line carries. Spears is the satellite back, operating out in space and catching passes.

Pollard is nothing like Henry. In fact, he’s most comparable to Spears. The Titans now have two running backs with the same skill set. So, who does what? The answer, unfortunately, is we just don’t know.

My best guess is this backfield operates similarly to how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers deployed Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette two years ago. This is after White burst onto the scene and made himself a meaningful part of the backfield.

Over the latter portion of the 2022 season, White and Fournette, who also had similar skill sets, basically split drives. It was “your turn/my turn.” Each handled early-down carries, caught passes, and got goal-line work, depending on whose drive it was. Given the similarities between what Spears and Pollard do well, that’s how I am projecting this backfield to look.

It’s entirely possible that Pollard is more efficient this season than he was last season. But does that mean he will return to performing like an RB1?

Imagine taking Pollard’s pre-2023 volume and putting him on an offense with Will Levis at QB instead of Dak Prescott. An offense with an aging DeAndre Hopkins and Calvin Ridley at wide receiver instead of CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks.

KEEP READING: Best Ball Rankings 2024

Barring a massive step forward from Levis, the Titans are not going to be nearly as good offensively as the Cowboys have been the past several years. As a result, it’s difficult to project Pollard particularly well.

The fact that we can’t say with confidence he will be the better fantasy back than Spears speaks volumes about how we should feel about Pollard in 2024 Best Ball drafts. Every remotely talented player has a price. Pollard would have fallen below his ADP for me to pay his.

As we look ahead to the 2024 fantasy football season, why not start preparing for your rookie drafts with our dynasty rookie rankings? Additionally, as you look to improve your team heading into 2024, our dynasty trade calculator can help you find the perfect deal to boost your championship chances.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Join the Conversation!

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Articles

0
Share your thoughts!x