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Fantasy, betting implications of Ezekiel Elliott signing new contract, ending holdout

The Cowboys have signed arguably their most important player, and Ezekiel Elliott is now the highest paid running back in the NFL. We break down the fantasy and betting implications

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott smiles on the sideline in the second half of the preseason game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on August 30, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have wrapped up a critical piece of business four days before they kick off their 2019 regular season schedule at home against the New York Giants. The team announced early Wednesday morning that running back Ezekiel Elliott has signed a six year contract worth $90 million. The team announced that $50 million of the contract is guaranteed.

Elliott held out the entirety of training camp hoping to get a deal that would move him into the upper echelon of running back contracts. He was entering the final year of his rookie deal, scheduled to earn a $3,853,137 base salary, with the team holding his fifth year option in 2020 at $9,099,000. Instead, he will now earn $15 million per year, making him the highest paid running back in the NFL.

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Season-long Fantasy implications

If you spent a draft pick (or keeper slot) on Elliott, you are breathing a sigh of relief. If you spent a decent value pick on Tony Pollard, you’re cringing a bit. Pollard remains a useful handcuff, and might still be a solid play in Week 1 considering Elliott has not practiced since mandatory minicamp at the beginning of the summer.

The other person breathing a sigh of relief is Dak Prescott. While Prescott is talented in his own right, Elliott has been an important part of his success. Having the stability Elliott brings bodes well for Prescott’s season-long fantasy value.

DFS Week 1 implications

Things get a little trickier for Week 1. The coaching staff will get plenty of questions about Elliott’s workload. Odds seem decent he won’t get the full workload. He has not practiced since minicamp, and the team would not want to start the season off with a hamstring strain or some other soft tissue injury. If we hear that he will get north of 75 percent of the running back work, he’s an intriguing option.

Regardless of what we hear, he’s also the most expensive Week 1 running back at $9,200. You’ll likely find better value elsewhere at the position. The real question is how much Tony Pollard will play. At $4,500 he would have been the free square on the bingo card, but now his value takes a huge hit. Even if he splits carries with Elliott, it’s likely better to punt on the Cowboys running back situation for Week 1.

Betting implications

The Cowboys opened in April as a 7.5-point favorite in Week 1 at home against the Giants. The line has dropped to a touchdown at the DraftKings Sportsbook. A sizable chunk of public money has already been bet on the Cowboys, so I don’t expect much change from the touchdown. If you’re looking to back the Giants, I doubt you get the 0.5-point hook back.

The Cowboys currently sit at +2200 to win the Super Bowl and +165 to win the NFC East. Elliott’s return was likely baked into the prices to a certain extent, but knowing that he is securely in place moving forward, there is a little bit of value to be had. Dallas has plenty of question marks, but the offense is in excellent shape heading into Week 1.


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