Ezekiel Elliott is definitely one of the few franchise-type running backs. I’d be comfortable selecting him with one of the first few picks. But I’m not crazy about his use around the goal line.
The Cowboys have one of the better running quarterbacks – Dak Prescott – and he’s got a good feel for keeping the ball himself at the goal line. That’s a valuable took against defenses trying to key on Elliott, and I think we’ll continue to see Prescott run in touchdowns.
In each of his first three seasons, Prescott has run for 6 TDs. He scored as many rushing touchdowns last year as Elliott. (Elliott scored 9 TDs in 15 games, but 3 came on pass plays.)
Inside the 5-yard line, 31 players last year had at least 7 carries. Of that group, Elliott was the worst at turning carries into touchdowns – he scored on only 2 of his 11 carries in that part of the field.
Prescott, on the other hand, was the best. He scored on 5 of his 7 attempts (4 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion).
|RUSHING INSIDE THE 5-YARD LINE|
|Dak Prescott, Dall.||7||13||1.9||5||71.4%|
|David Johnson, Ariz.||9||9||1.0||6||66.7%|
|Alvin Kamara, N.O.||19||31||1.6||12||63.2%|
|Damien Williams, K.C.||7||9||1.3||4||57.1%|
|Nick Chubb, Clev.||9||14||1.6||5||55.6%|
|Phillip Lindsay, Den.||9||19||2.1||5||55.6%|
|Kareem Hunt, K.C.||11||18||1.6||6||54.5%|
|James Conner, Pitt.||17||18||1.1||9||52.9%|
|Jordan Howard, Chi.||12||17||1.4||6||50.0%|
|Carlos Hyde, Clev.||10||6||.6||5||50.0%|
|Adrian Peterson, Was.||8||7||.9||4||50.0%|
|Todd Gurley, LAR||25||30||1.2||12||48.0%|
|Derrick Henry, Ten.||17||21||1.2||8||47.1%|
|Marlon Mack, Ind.||15||16||1.1||7||46.7%|
|Joe Mixon, Cin.||13||12||.9||6||46.2%|
|Leonard Fournette, Jac.||11||17||1.5||5||45.5%|
|Chris Carson, Sea.||16||13||.8||7||43.8%|
|Lamar Miller, Hou.||7||8||1.1||3||42.9%|
|Elijah McGuire, NYJ||7||10||1.4||3||42.9%|
|Christian McCaffrey, Car.||15||19||1.3||6||40.0%|
|LeGarrette Blount, Det.||13||11||.8||5||38.5%|
|Peyton Barber, T.B.||14||16||1.1||5||35.7%|
|Saquon Barkley, NYG||20||19||1.0||7||35.0%|
|Deshaun Watson, Hou.||9||16||1.8||3||33.3%|
|Sony Michel, N.E.||13||15||1.2||4||30.8%|
|Patrick Mahomes, K.C.||7||11||1.6||2||28.6%|
|Mark Ingram, N.O.||14||13||.9||4||28.6%|
|Doug Martin, Oak.||11||7||.6||3||27.3%|
|James White, N.E.||9||3||.3||2||22.2%|
|Alfred Morris, S.F.||10||6||.6||2||20.0%|
|Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.||11||5||.5||2||18.2%|
Dallas should get its great center, Travis Frederick, back this year. That would help the interior blocking some. Elliott was an outstanding short-yardage runner in his first two seasons (successful on 33 of 39 carries when they needed a tough yard). But I think Prescott will continue to get a healthy number of carries around the goal line. I’m assuming he’ll score a least a third of the Cowboys’ rushing touchdowns.
In the above chart, I lumped touchdowns and 2-point conversions into one “end zone” category. For most players, those are just touchdowns. Alvin Kamara scored 3 times on 2-point conversions, so he actually scored only 9 rushing TDs in that part of the field. Prescott, Todd Gurley, Marlon Mack, Saquon Barkley and Patrick Mahomes each scored once on a 2-point run.