Tony Pollard: Superstar?
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Written by: Bo McBrayer @Bo_McBigTime
Every season in the NFL, there are a few breakout stars that shine so bright during the critical playoff weeks that they catapult fantasy owners from also-rans to strapping on the belt and waving in the parade. We have all seen the story: Player A is a stud and goes down with an injury or a change in coaching philosophy gives Player B, often a handcuff, an opportunity to showcase their ability and return a massive value to ADP.
In 2020, I believe that game-changing, wallet-padding hero could very well be second year running back, Tony Pollard from Memphis. Although there are a few big reasons to warrant a late round flyer on this dynamic ball carrier, aside from the obvious need for a Zeke handcuff at any cost, the most intriguing case for Pollard might be the hiring of new Head Coach Mike McCarthy. Although the play-calling and system appear to be staying with the adept Kellen Moore, McCarthy brings a vanilla (basic but proven) philosophy into the fold.
We all lamented and gnashed our teeth when the Packers, under McCarthy, bullheadedly gave Jamaal Williams a good share of touches over Aaron Jones, despite a chasm of talent wider than Andy Reid himself. We very well could see a 70/30 split in rushing responsibilities with Elliott, added passing down routes out of the backfield, as well as an increase from his 7% of snaps from the slot as a Curtis/Deebo Samuel-esque Swiss Army Wildcat role. Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin have moved on, and despite the drafting of Cee Dee Lamb, there is good reason to believe Moore will expand Pollard’s role in the passing game to take advantage of the receiving prowess we saw from him at Memphis.
Another indication of a potential breakout from the incumbent sophomore is the incredible output we saw from Pollard in his limited touches as a rookie. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and had four scampers for 20+ yards. His three combined touchdowns were all highlight-worthy, showcasing breakaway speed and cream-of-the-crop elusiveness with the ball in his hands. Pollard was at the very top of NFL ball carriers in 2019 in broken tackle percentage and percentage of yards after contact, paving the way for Moore to give Dak more reasons to target #20.
You might have to snipe the person with Ezekiel Elliott to get a share of Tony Pollard, but it shows good promise to return value, even as a standalone player. It is also very possible that Pollard breaks out in a huge way as a key cog in a highly productive and balanced offensive attack. He is more dynamic than Jamaal Williams and McCarthy might be forced to give Zeke more rest and ride a hot hand or change of pace. I have a gut feeling that Pollard will show out in 2020 and his price may never be this low again.