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Dynasty Rebuilds and Renovations: Zeke and Javonte

Whether rebuilding or contending, Ezekiel Elliott and Javonte Williams have value – albeit very differently. Justin Herrera breaks down each player’s value for your teams.

Welcome in for the first of many write-ups focusing on how you can rebuild and renovate your dynasty rosters. This series will focus on two players at the same position who have different values in dynasty. I will break down their 2021 season into the good, the bad, and the value while giving little tidbits of how to handle them going forward. The first write-up is about Javonte Williams and Ezekiel Elliott, two guys similar in running the ball but on two different ends of their careers.

Javonte Williams

The Good

Williams is a human bowling ball, evading a total of 81 tackles. Williams’ tape showed him as someone players bounced off of as if he had a force field around him. This one hundred percent translated to his NFL game. Williams is the future RB1, and he’s got all the traits of a franchise player. His balance, burst, and vision are some of the many characteristics that make him someone to grab in dynasty. I also enjoyed watching Williams’ change direction with such fluidity; there’s no hitch in his step. He can be going inside and bounce outside without thinking twice.

Williams split time this year with Melvin Gordon and still had an excellent year, tallying 903 rushing yards, 316 receiving yards, and seven total TDs. A lot of fantasy managers were surprised by Williams’ receiving prowess. He was targeted 53 times and showed that he had hands, only dropping three passes. For me, an eye-opening stat was his eight yards after catch (YAC)/reception. This shows how electric he was in open space and makes us dynasty managers salivate at the idea of him with a full workload.

The Bad

It’s challenging to find something wrong with Williams physically. He didn’t even have a fumbling problem, only losing one ball all year long. If I were to pinpoint one worry about Williams going into 2022, I’d say it’s the chance that Gordon resigns with the Broncos. Gordon and Williams were RB17 and RB18, respectively. If we take Gordon out of the picture, Williams is easily a top 10 RB and borderline top-five RB in 2022.

The Value

Willams is a stud that will be hard to pry away from other managers. If you want to make a go at it, you should be aware that you’ll be looking at a hefty price somewhere in the neighborhood of two drafts worth of picks. Most dynasty managers will sell him on the possible ceiling of being alone in the backfield. Hence they’ll drive up his price by saying there’s no more Gordon, so he’s going to dominate. If you can tell yourself that there’s no one in the draft better than him to justify giving up picks, then I’d pull the trigger. He will be a stud for the next five years and has a path to being the RB1 within the next several years.

Holding onto him might be the best move you can make because his production should go up even if Gordon returns. Also, you can siphon off some of his peak years then sell him for a fortune. Like I stated before, Williams has the talent and is in an offense that could easily see him becoming the RB1 in fantasy football. So take advantage of your situation and win a title or two in dynasty before cashing in.

Ezekiel Elliott

Courtesy of Ashley Landis-The Dallas Morning News

The Good

If you drafted Elliot in the first round, he produced at the level you expected this year. He pulled off an RB6 finish in 2021 but had a tale of two seasons. Elliott legitimately looked in good shape coming out the gate, with his best stretch from Week 3-5, where he tallied 67.1 fantasy points. He split carries with Tony Pollard but was still getting the fifth most goal line carries (12). Leading up to Week 10, Elliott averaged 4.71 ypc and was on his was another stellar season.

For the past six seasons, Elliott has been a workhorse, but 2021 almost became the first season where he played 15 or more games and didn’t get 1,000 yards. This, to me, is telling of a player on the downturn of his career. He is locked in for at least 2022 as his dead cap would be $30 million against the Cowboy. So you know his days as a superior talent are numbered. Eliott is still a Cowboy and he can still break off runs and break tackles. In 2021, he evaded 74 tackles, the tenth most in the league. Overall what was good about Elliott this year will most likely be there in 2022.

The Bad

Leading up to Week 10, Elliott averaged 4.71 ypc and was on his way to another stellar season. On the back end of his season (including playoffs), he averaged 3.34 ypc. So why was this happening?

Through Week 10, Elliott averaged 67.4% of the Cowboys’ offensive snaps. From Week 11 on, he averaged 63.7%. Elliott was losing snaps to Pollard because of the lack of explosiveness. Let’s face facts: Elliott rushed for the fewest attempts (237) of his career in 2021. This guy has been a workhorse, but that might finally be catching up to him.

It would be hard to believe that with PFF ranking the Cowboys offensive line number one, the line is the cause of the decline. This leads me to think Elliott’s downfall might have been a PCL injury that he says he sustained early in the year. One wonders how damaged that wheel is now; further damage to the ligament and, more than likely, the surrounding tissue or bone could cause more issues down the line. Since Elliott decided to go the non-surgery route in the offseason, it’s something you have to ask yourself going forward. How healthy will his knee ever be again?

The Value

Overall, his value in fantasy at this point is as a goal-line back that just came off a 12 touchdown season. Elliot is more of a redraft darling than a dynasty guy from 2022 going forward. This might be one of your last chances to offload him for a decent return in 2022. Elliott’s on a guaranteed year, so he’s not going anywhere, but his touches will most likely go down this year. The most important pitch is his goal-line presence in Dallas. If I’m rebuilding a team, I’m trying to get someone to overpay for Elliott. If I were selling him, I’d be happy getting a package of picks and a tier down at RB.

Are you trying to renovate your dynasty team for a championship run? If you’re looking to make a run at the title and want to bring on Elliott as a good RB2/flex, then I’d suggest being ready to package a pair of picks, possibly a couple of seconds. Remember. Elliott’s dynasty value right now is only as good as his contract with the Cowboys. Once he’s out of Dallas, it’ll probably be the end of his low-end RB1 status. So that means right now Elliott is a buy, but as soon as 2023, his dead cap shrinks down to 11 million. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys are changing their running back in the next few years.

What the Nerds Have to Say

Javonte Williams

Williams can be an every-down workhorse back; however, there is no guarantee that this opportunity will come his way. Gordon is a free agent, and the Broncos have a brand new coaching staff. If this new staff is pro committee, Williams may never get an opportunity to have the ridiculous usage that we would like to see out of him. Nick Chubb has showcased that a committee back can still be productive. Williams’ value is extremely high right now, but don’t cash in your chips yet. Williams may have an incredibly productive career.

-Bobby Bishop (@imbobbybish)

Courtesy of the Denver Post

I love Javonte, but I’m not opposed to selling high on him. I’m interested in getting another high-end back and significant draft capital. His talent is undeniable, but we don’t know that he’s getting a workhorse role or that that offense will be good. I’m not selling unless I get paid, but if I can turn him into Breece or Spiller and a ’23 first, I’m taking a look.

-(Ekballer)

Javonte finished with the 17 most fantasy points of the year, one spot ahead of his committee partner, Gordon. Can you imagine his output if this becomes his backfield alone? I would not be selling a back of his caliber and age unless there is an offer far too good to pass up. And with the prospect of Denver improving their QB situation, it only gives Williams more opportunity to succeed in that offense.

-(@timbmartens)

Ezekiel Elliott

Zeke is no longer the best running back on his team. He will undoubtedly get cut after 2022 or 2023 to save money, as his guaranteed money is starting to run out. Regardless, Elliot will retain fantasy relevance as long as he gets goal-line touches. If you can’t trade him this offseason, his value for your team will eventually outweigh his return in a trade.

-Bobby Bishop (@imbobbybish)

Zeke played through injury this year and still hobbled his way to an RB6 finish. Is he the explosive, top-two talent at RB that he was a few years ago? Of course not. Is he likely to return value at his current ADP? He went as the RB24 in my most recent startup, so, heck ya, he is. Zeke’s got a few years of performing as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2.

-(Ekballer)

Zeke was a warrior for fantasy teams for a while. You could put him in your lineup and count on 20 points. Those days are long gone. The only thing keeping him on the field is that contract. Pollard ran circles around him. However, it’s not like any team will pay a guy $12 million in 2022 to be a goal-line back. If Zeke starts off the season hot…Sell Sell Sell!

-(@DoomzoneFF)

The issue with Zeke right now is you know he’s an aging asset, but so does every other owner in your league. If you own Zeke and are competing, the return you are getting is likely not enough to warrant a trade of an RB who finished in the top six this past season while battling injuries. Are you rebuilding? Then I’d hold out for a first-round pick. If nothing comes along, wait until the 2022 season and hope he starts hot before moving him. Tim Martens

-Tim Martens (@timbmartens)

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed the first installment in this Dynasty-based series. My next one will be breaking down Brandon Aiyuk and DeAndre Hopkins. If you want to see more content like this, visit us at www.dynastynerds.com.

Get the Dynasty Nerds app in the Apple and Google Play stores. Mock drafts for Superflex, 1QB, Standard. If you are a DynastyGM subscriber, it even syncs with your actual teams so that you can do rookie mock drafts with ALL of your actual picks. Also on desktop.

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