Fantasy Alert: Cowboys' Tony Pollard to Have 'Larger Role' Alongside Ezekiel Elliott

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 13, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 02: Tony Pollard #20 of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball against the New Orleans Saints during a game at the the Caesars Superdome on December 02, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys reportedly plan to use running back Tony Pollard as a "primary weapon" in their offense during the 2022 NFL season despite the presence of Ezekiel Elliott.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday the Cowboys' coaching staff "explicitly told" Pollard he'll be used in a "larger role" this year.

It's a situation to monitor closely from a fantasy football perspective, especially with Dallas using two-back formations featuring both Elliott and Pollard, who's also been doing work as a slot receiver during the offseason's organized team activities, per Hill.

Touches are king in fantasy football and, while Pollard has shown game-breaking ability in recent years, the Cowboys haven't been willing to keep Zeke, who's still got five seasons left on his six-year, $90 million contract, off the field for extended stretches.

Here's a breakdown of how things played out in 2021:

  • Elliott: 284 offensive touches in 17 games (16.7 average)
  • Pollard: 169 offensive touches in 15 games (11.3 average)

Hill noted Dallas' desire to get Pollard more involved is "not about diminishing" Elliott but rather a goal of better maximizing the 25-year-old's impact.

Trying to get University of Memphis product a handful of more opportunities per week makes sense because his per-touch average was higher than Elliott in both rushing (5.5 to 4.2) and receiving (8.6 to 6.1) situations last season.

Yet, it won't be easy to increase Pollard's role without taking away from Elliott since there are also a lot of mouths to feed in the passing game. Dak Prescott has CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, James Washington, Jalen Tolbert and Dalton Schultz at his disposal.

It creates a situation where Pollard (101.0 average draft position, per Yahoo) carries more draft-day upside than Elliott (35.4 ADP) given the uncertainty.

The ideal situation is both players getting around 15 touches per week. Elliott would retain his value by scoring more touchdowns on the ground and Pollard could make up the difference with additional catches out of the slot, giving him serious potential in points-per-reception formats.

That said, it's worth pointing out the potential nightmare scenario where the Cowboys use the hot-hand approach on a weekly basis. One game Elliott may be rolling on the ground and Pollard rarely gets featured, and then the next contest is the opposite.

Those type of timeshares are a massive headache because it's a coin flip for fantasy managers, and the scoring floor is low if the game script goes the wrong direction.

Some managers may prefer to avoid the Cowboys backfield for that exact reason, but there's certainly a path to a breakout year for Pollard if the staff successfully implements its plan.