I thoroughly enjoyed Alex Lee’s piece about Ezekiel Elliott a couple of days ago. Personally, I don’t have any issue with Elliott in the top ten, however I agree with Alex, it isn’t an ideal position for him to be in. In order to build the most ideal starting lineup, it’s probably wise for Elliott to be your early second round pick after getting a top-end WR1, which is possible in regards to current ADP. But I’d be remiss not to point out that Alex left out a crucial element about the Cowboys backfield as a whole, so I followed up with him…
“I like Dunbar as a deep sleeper option, especially in PPR. I agree that Elliott won’t have a Murray-like workload, I’d expect them to give some whole series to Morris and have Dunbar as a 3rd-down back out of the gate, with McFadden potentially being sidelined at the beginning of the season. He could take the first few weeks of the season to carve out a nice spot for himself as a Sproles-like weapon. If he does well with it early on, that would make it tough for Garrett to force him into a reduced role when DMC comes back. The problem is that McFadden is arguable a more complete player who is a competent receiver (he caught 40 balls last season), and if Dunbar doesn’t impress early on, the team probably wouldn’t hesitate to give his opportunities to McFadden or Elliott. He’s a risky play, but worth a late round stash to see how he looks coming off his knee injury and what kind of role the team has in store for him. He could pay big dividends, or be someone you drop quickly for the waiver wire darling du jour”.
Well, I guess I don’t have to write the article then. Way to go Alex. However, there are some other things I want to say and build off of, and it involves even more Lance Dunbar. So let’s get to it…
[graphiq id=”b4RFQvKU4m1″ title=”Lance Dunbar Overview” width=”640″ height=”548″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/b4RFQvKU4m1″ link=”http://football-players.pointafter.com/l/5641/Lance-Dunbar” link_text=”Lance Dunbar Overview | PointAfter”]
Alex is right. Darren McFadden is more than capable to play as a passing-downs back. He did catch 40 passes last year. But if Dunbar plays the full 16 weeks last year, instead of only 4, then he finishes out the year with close to 85 receptions good for a total of 860 yards. If you factor in his rushing yards, which aren’t his strong suit, then we’re looking at a total of about 1,129 yards from scrimmage in the 2015 season. This puts Dunbar in the conversation as a Danny Woodhead-type back, not the likes of a Darren Sproles-type back. While Sproles is good, Woodhead brought a lot of teams to their Championship game last year in PPR formats. Woodhead finished out the year with 1,091 yards from scrimmage on the year, and in the passing game, he finished out the year with 80 receptions for 755 yards. And Woodhead finished as the 10th best running back in Standard leagues. And in PPR? The 3rd-best.
You know who isn’t a good pass-catching running back? Alfred Morris.
Last year, despite McFadden carving out a role as the featured back (especially once Joseph Randle found himself off the team), Morris still didn’t carve out a role in the passing game, finishing the year out with only 10 caught balls good for 55 yards. On the year. To put that in perspective, John Kuhn finished with more reception yards on the year.
To tie it back to what Alex had said, if anyone thinks that Ezekiel Elliott will get 2014 DeMarco-like carries, they’re obviously not paying attention.
I have full confidence that the Cowboys organization knows what they’re doing with regards to Elliott. If the Cowboys paid any and all attention to what happened to DeMarco after his 2014 season, in which he rushed the ball a total of 392 times, they would have seen how he struggled in Philadelphia, averaging close to only 47 rushing yards per game, down from the 115.3 yards per game we saw a year before. They would have seen how he failed to make an impact in a new chapter of his playing career. They would have seen how much uncertainty he brings now in Tennessee. Blame it on a bad O-Line in Philadelphia, but he failed to make an impact regardless.
If they are planning for the future, the Cowboys should know not to run Elliott into the ground. Because if they do, it isn’t a 100% guarantee he’ll be the same back a year later.
So let’s talk about this season with Dunbar. Make no mistake, tearing your ACL, MCL and platellar tendon is nothing to rub dirt on. However, dirt might have been rubbed on… the… knee… I don’t know where I was going with this.
Earlier in the year, the Cowboys signed Dunbar to a 1-year deal worth around $1.75M. It doesn’t guarantee you a spot in their plans moving forward, but consider this: Dunbar’s uncertainty in May regarding his availability was more than a little foggy. But now, there’s reason to feel good about him heading into the year.
In mid-July, before Training Camp had begun, Cowboys President Stephen Jones gave an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, saying that “the team wants to do things the right way with him, but gosh, I commend him. He’s worked so hard and come so far, so fast — a lot faster than anyone dreamed he could come. We’ve also got to do what’s right in his best interest and certainly not jeopardize any of the hard work he’s put into this. But I think we’ve got a great look at what he can for us”.
Since then, not only has Dunbar been activated from the PUP list, the team has stated that they do not plan to use him at all during the final two weeks of the preseason after the Dolphins game. Some may say that he won’t be ready, but from the reports that I mentioned above, it may be safe to say that they already know what they have with him, and they don’t want to risk further injury.
Speaking of injury, how does Dunbar fit into the Dallas offense without Romo? Well, although rookie Dak Prescott has looked good (remember, so did Bradford a few years ago), I don’t believe Jason Garrett will let the rookie have total control of the offense, so it’s is fair to assume at this point that the running game might dictate the offensive outlook for the season, or at least until Prescott has proved himself.
Two final things I want to mention before I let you go.
First, his SOS. It isn’t the most important factor, however, when we are dealing with late round picks (more on that later), it might be the deciding factor between Dunbar and another candidate. Well, Dunbar’s 2016 SOS is looking pretty sweet at the moment. In addition to getting to face the Eagles and Giants twice a year, he’ll get a date with San Francisco in Week 4, play against Cleveland in Week 9, Tampa Bay in Week 15, and Detroit in Week 16.
And finally, what will he cost you?
Well, according to current ADP, Dunbar is the 80th back off the board. That’s the 30th round in a 10-team league, and the 25th round in 12-team leagues.
All-in-all, Dunbar might not be someone you draft, and in most cases, it’s a good idea to not draft him. But it’s a name you should remember heading into the season, and once we get to fully see how he plays in the first few weeks, it’s like what our good buddy Alex said earlier.
“He could pay big dividends.”
You Can Follow Zach on Twitter @ohuhave12.