Ezekiel Elliott missed all of training camp and all of the preseason, but in the end, that didn't matter, as he agreed to a six-year extension Tuesday that will pay him $90 million, locking him in with the Cowboys for up to the next eight years.
After things took a turn for the pessimistic with comments about Elliott missing games from team owner Jerry Jones last week, reports took a decidedly more optimistic tone in recent days, as Elliott returned to Dallas to finish the contract. The new deal, signed with two years remaining on his rookie pact, will make Elliott the highest paid running back in the league.
And, more importantly for us, it should get Elliott back onto the field in time for Week 1. Here's what you need to know.
1. Where in Round 1 should Elliott go right now?
Remind yourself of this: Elliott has the potential to get 2,000 total yards and double-digit touchdowns. Take a second look at the Cowboys offensive line, one of the best in the NFL. Refresh your take on the Cowboys offense given that they themselves refreshed who will call plays this year — Kellen Moore is expected to bring a much more creative approach. Just remember that Dallas added short-area targets in Jason Witten and Randall Cobb this summer, not to mention backup Tony Pollard grabbing a few passes each week.
Add it all up, and Elliott is worth taking in the top-two in non-PPR in remaining drafts, and is an easy top-four pick in PPR formats.
2. Is Pollard still a must-draft if I take Elliott?
It's not a must, but it couldn't hurt. You should have plenty of running back depth by the time you get to the point where you'd draft Pollard anyway -- that's Round 13-plus. He proved to be a capable runner this preseason and would seemingly get the work if Elliott missed time.
Plus, Pollard's value is crushed now that Elliott is signed, so you'll probably be the only one interested in drafting him.
It's cheap insurance you should have on your roster.
3. I drafted Elliott in Round 1 — and not in the top-4! How much of a genius am I?
You're a wizard. Celebrate with a soda.
4. Oh yeah, well I drafted Elliott in Round 2, so how much of a genius ...
Yeah, yeah, you're special, we get it.
5. Is Elliott a lock to play Week 1?
Considering he just signed and the game is in less than five days, it's not a guarantee. However, if he practices with the team this week and the Cowboys give no indications that he'll sit, then you should be prepared to start him. Keep an eye and an ear to the news out of Dallas.
6. So maybe Pollard could have some value after all?!
Technically it's possible, but once it's clear Elliott's playing, Pollard will officially be a shiny handcuff who will get maybe five touches per game. If Elliott did sit out Week 1, Pollard would be viewed as a No. 2 Fantasy RB.
7. I drafted Pollard and now I feel like an idiot. What do I do now?
You gambled and you lost. Luckily it didn't cost you too much on Draft Day and it shouldn't impact your Fantasy team much.
First, check waivers and see who's out there. Guys with sleeper value like Justin Jackson, John Brown, Jamison Crowder, Marquise Goodwin and Darren Waller are available in roughly 35 percent or more of CBS Sports leagues. You could drop Pollard for any of them if you so choose.
Second, see if the person who drafted Elliott would be interested in Pollard. All you'll need is someone from his or her bench that's better than the best player available on waivers. Or maybe trade someone with Pollard for one player back and then get whoever you like best on waivers.
But if waivers is bare and Elliott's manager won't trade, then just hang on to Pollard. He'll have a small role in the offense and otherwise backup a rusher who has had 1,078 touches over the last three years and missed all of training camp and the preseason. Perhaps Elliott does get rushed back and suffers a setback. Then you'll wish you had Pollard. Not saying that's going to happen, just saying it's a possibility.
8. OK so let's turn the question around: I drafted Elliott and someone else took Pollard. Is now the time to try and swipe Pollard on the cheap?
Heck yes! A smart player would try and snag Pollard — but not offer a player taken in Round 9. No, sir. You need to bargain hunt before doing that — see if you can give him some scraps from Round 13 or 14.
You don't want to be in the position of trading for Pollard if, heaven forbid, Zeke gets hurt. Remember when I said Pollard would "backup a rusher who has had 1,078 touches over the last three years and missed all of training camp and the preseason"? Of course you do, it was two paragraphs ago! By their nature, running backs are always at risk for injury. You'll want to be prepared. Here's your opportunity to do so at a heavy discount from Draft Day.
9. Does Elliott's return hurt anyone else in Dallas?
It dings Dak Prescott's volume a little bit, but he was being taken as a second quarterback anyway. Prescott is still fine as a No. 2 passer in SuperFlex/two-QB leagues.
Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup could get squeezed for a couple of targets each week with Elliott back since Elliott would command more touches. It hurts their upside but keeps their Draft Day value relatively the same.
Cobb and Witten weren't really getting drafted much anyway. They'll lose targets with Elliott back.
Elliott's return would only help the Cowboys DST since the run game would conceivably be more effective and keep the chains moving and the opposing offense off the field. I love their early-season outlook, which could propel them into a top-5 DST over the course of the year.
So which Fantasy Football busts should you avoid in your draft? And which superstar QB isn't a trustworthy QB1 option? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Allen Robinson's disappointing season, and find out.