Last season was forgettable for Ezekiel Elliott.
Career-lows in rushing yards (979) and touchdowns (8), exacerbated by a career-high in fumbles (6). But might 2020 also be motivating for the Dallas Cowboys' star running back?
If lingering memories of those (relatively) awful statistics didn't push him to work harder and perform better in 2021, Elliott got another slap in the face Wednesday with the release of the Madden 22 player ratings.
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The popular video game rates every player and - for the first time in his six-year NFL career - Elliott is not a Top 5 running back. In fact, he's barely Top 10.
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Feed me, indeed.
According to Madden 22, Elliott is only the 9th-best back in the league. He's tied with the Cincinnati Bengals' Joe Mixon with a rating of 88, well behind the game's top three of Christian McCaffery (97), Derrick Henry (96) and Nick Chubb (96). He isn't even the highest-rated back in the NFC East, falling behind the New York Giants' Saquon Barkley (7th with a 90).
The 88 is the second-lowest rating of Elliott's career, behind only the 84 given to him by Madden 17 before his rookie season in 2016. Since then the two-time rushing champion has graded 92, 90, 94 and 92. He was ranked fourth overall last year and second by Madden 20 as recently as 2019, behind only the Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley.
As if he needed extra fuel for a better 2021, Elliott now has it. Shrouded by the team’s failures, his 2019 contract holdout and last season’s fumbling yips, we forget how good Zeke was (is?).
His 8,341 yards before his 26th birthday are the NFL’s third-most all-time behind only two pretty decent runners: Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton.