The dominos have begun to fall as two former star veteran running backs signed with teams yesterday. Here is a look at how some of the new running back timeshares affect the fantasy football prospects of the involved players.

Ezekiel Elliott to the Patriots

The Patriots signed Ezekiel Elliott for “up to” $6 million.

This is a favorable outcome for Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson simply wasn’t going to play 90% of the snaps. It’s not for a lack of talent, but most NFL backfields have devolved into timeshares as teams don’t want to overload their stars.

When evaluating running backs, we want players who receive high-value touches. Running backs score fantasy points by catching passes and scoring touchdowns.

Let’s look at Elliott’s career.


As a 21-year-old rookie, Zeke was fantastic. Since then, he’s seen his yards per target and yards per rush fall almost consistently per year. Culminating in his final season in Dallas, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry and 4 yards per target. In terms of efficiency, Zeke is barely a replacement-level player at this point in his career.

With his poor receiving ability, we shouldn’t expect Elliott to be involved in the passing game. The Patriots will continue to get the ball in Stevenson’s hands in space. Zeke, however, was likely signed to take some of the early-down wear and tear off Stevenson’s plate.

The only concern is Zeke taking some of the goal-line carries away from Stevenson. While he has shown an ability to score touchdowns, it’s hard to imagine the Patriots removing their best offensive player from the field to put Elliott in. Still, Stevenson should be downgraded in the touchdown department from a projection standpoint.

The Patriots likely want a reliable option in their young running back room behind Stevenson. Zeke can be relied upon to eat some carries and pass-protect without much risk of a crucial mistake. At this point in his career, Pierre Strong is likely a more explosive player.

In terms of ADP, owners should aggressively target Stevenson if he falls because of the signing.

Dalvin Cook to the Jets

Rumored to be taking place a couple of weeks ago, the Jets have now signed Dalvin Cook. Unlike Zeke, Cook was paid handsomely – the $8.6 million makes Cook the ninth highest-paid running back.

As a 27-year-old last season, Cook remained solid despite not reaching his previously gaudy stats. He rushed for a career-low 4.4 yards per carry and fell to 5.3 yards per target, under his 6.5 YPT career average before 2022. He’s entering an age when running backs historically tend to decline.

Beat writer Connor Hughes does not believe that Cook will steal touches from Breece Hall. With Hall on schedule to return, a drop in price would be a reason to become more bullish on the Jets’ future star.

The Eagles RB1: Kenneth Gainwell

With D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny active for the Eagles’ first preseason game, the news on Twitter is that Kenneth Gainwell is in line for RB1 duties.

Many have theorized that Swift and Penny being active has more to do with familiarity of the offensive scheme than an indication of their depth chart listing. Like Gainwell, Boston Scott also sat out the Eagles’ first preseason game.

We’ve liked Gainwell, as he has an intriguing production profile, but skepticism is warranted for a running back who has yet to touch the ball 100 times in an NFL season. Swift and Penny are both highly drafted players who have been extremely efficient in the NFL.

This backfield has serious running back by-committee concerns. Gainwell’s average draft position (ADP) should certainly rise – however, it’s hard to expect him to lead in touches. Regardless, the comments are concerning for the volume of touches that Swift and Penny can receive. Their prices will likely fall and what you think of their talent should determine whether you’re trying to catch the falling knife.

Swift’s upside is too tantalizing to fade at a favorable price.