Zeke who? Elliott still in NFL MVP conversation

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August 19th, 2019

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones may not remember who Ezekiel Elliott is, but oddsmakers certainly do. The mercurial running back is still in the top 20 in NFL MVP odds, despite the fact that he has yet to play a down in the preseason.

The 24-year-old has been a no-show at Cowboys' training camp while he angles for a more lucrative contract. Elliott is due to be paid $3.8 million this year and $9 million next season, but would like a deal similar to the four-year, $57.5 million extension signed by Todd Gurley in 2018.

2019 NFL MVP Odds

RankingPlayer NFL MVP Odds
Patrick Mahomes
Andrew Luck
Aaron Rodgers
Carson Wentz
Drew Brees
Ezekiel Elliott
Elliott is presently on the Did Not Report List and has threatened to sit out the entirety of 2019 unless Jones backs up the Brink's trucks. His situation raises a number of questions, which we'll address below.

Will Elliott play in 2019?

Michael Irvin certainly thinks so. The Cowboys Hall of Famer recently told TMZ Sports that Jones will acquiesce to Elliott's demands because of the owner's unrelenting desire to win another Super Bowl.

"I know for a fact, before Jerry Jones leaves time and (goes) to eternity, he wants to drink the sweet nectar of a championship again,” Irvin said. “And that nectarhe will not partake in without Ezekiel Elliott."
It's not as though Jones can't afford to pony up. The 76-year-old entrepreneur is reportedly worth $6.8 billion and has more money beneath his sofa cushions than most Americans have in their bank accounts. Whether or not Elliottor anyone for that matteris actually worth $14 million per year is a question for another day, but he is certainly among the league's top running backs and deserves to be paid accordingly.

Is Zeke worth a wager at +5000?

Absolutely. Elliott led the NFL in rushes, rushing yards and rushing yards per game in 2018, despite appearing in just 15 contests. He's an absolute beast, but he needs to resolve his holdout soon to present any real value to bettors.

Wait a second, do running backs ever win MVP?

Yes, but not often. Running backs have won the NFL MVP Award just 12 times since 1975. The last tailback to pull off the feat was Adrian Peterson, who achieved the honor in 2012, when he racked up 2,097 yards on 348 carries. It was the second most rushing yards in a single season, and it gives you a sense of the numbers a running back has to put up just to be in the conversation.

Elliott is capable of equaling Peterson's numbers. He rushed for a career-high 1,631 yards during his rookie campaign, but his margin of error is incredibly small. If he misses a game because of his holdout, or finds himself on the sideline again because of injury or suspension, his odds of winning the MVP award will take a serious hit.

Which other longshot presents value?

Bettors should snatch up Saquon Barkley in a New York minute. The 2018 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year rushed for 1,307 and 11 touchdowns in his first season with the Giants and is now the undisputed face of the franchise, following the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. and the increasing decrepitude of Eli Manning.

Barkley will be asked to run until his legs fall off in 2019 and should have every chance to generate insane stats in the league's biggest market. At +5000 Barkley is more than worth a shot.

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