Most backup running backs don’t hold much value in fantasy football, outside of filling the role of a ‘handcuff.’ But Tony Pollard is no regular backup running back, especially when the starter on the Dallas Cowboys in Ezekiel Elliott, is one of the most hot-button names in fantasy football.
Pollard was drafted in 2019 and has been the backup ever since, racking up work alongside – or in lieu of – Elliott. His work as the Cowboys’ RB2 has helped solidify their offensive attack, even though he has sometimes looked like the better option between the two top runners.
Heading into the 2022 NFL season, Pollard profiles as a strong RB2 in fantasy drafts and a potential option that looks to have an ADP in or around the ‘Dead Zone.’ How can the Cowboys incorporate Pollard to boost his impact on your lineups this year, and what can a realistic ceiling be for the former Memphis running back?
While his scoring opportunities were less frequent last season, Pollard put together his best season to date in 2021. As the Cowboys enjoyed a 16-game season from Dak Prescott, their offensive attack opened up again to utilize all of its weapons.
Pollard saw an uptick in both carries (+29) and receptions (+11) last season, but nothing felt forced, so his increased workload was a natural change to the game plan. 130 carries for 709 yards (5.5 YPC) and 39 receptions for 337 receiving yards, with two total TDs, was what Pollard offered for your rosters last season, finishing the year as the RB28 overall.
The Dallas offense supported two top-30 running back options last season, as Elliott produced his sixth-consecutive top-15 season. Having maintained a 24 percent snap share or higher in every game, he was active shows just how determined the offensive staff for the Cowboys is to incorporate Pollard into their plans.
As a final recap for Pollard’s season last year – Pollard saw double-digit opportunities (rushing attempts + targets) in 10 games. Pollard had double-digit carries in eight of those games, so even with his advanced abilities in the passing game, he is more than trusted to carry the rock on a heavy basis.
With both wide receivers, Amari Cooper traded this offseason and Michael Gallup recovering from an ACL tear, and there are quite a few vacated targets up for grabs. Even with Gallup projected to make his return sometime during the earlier part of the year, Pollard looks destined to have a more significant role in the passing game moving forward.
Camp reports back up those rumors about his passing game involvement, which should excite any PPR leagues looking for a viable RB2/FLEX play. Upon Gallup’s return, Pollard would see a decrease in passing-game work, but his early season value will help overcome any reduction later in the season.
The success of the Dallas offense relies heavily on Elliott’s health, an area that has been a significant question mark during his career. Pollard immediately skyrockets into RB1 territory if Elliott misses any time. However, his current value still offers an excellent opportunity to add a mid-round running back option with weekly FLEX value.
If the offensive plan that we have all been led to believe during training camp holds true, then Pollard can easily sneak into overall RB20 territory. As a note of caution – Pollard’s current ADP (RB26) represents a player being drafted at his ceiling, limiting his ROI.
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