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It’s very likely Ezekiel Elliott would be leading the NFL in rushing right now

Four games into his suspension, it’s pretty clear that Ezekiel Elliott would be running away with the rushing title.

Kansas City Chiefs v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

As a rookie in 2016, Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards.

Eight games into his sophomore season, it didn’t exactly look like Zeke was going to replicate his first-year performance from a numerical perspective; however, it did look like he was slated to take home the NFL’s rushing title for the second consecutive year.

We are 12 games into the 2017 NFL season, four games into Elliott’s suspension, and that appears truer than ever.

With 66% of the body of work, Elliott is only 274 yards behind the league leader (Le’Veon Bell) and 68 yards behind sixth place (LeSean McCoy).

Ezekiel Elliott averaged 108.7 yards per game last season, and he had almost kept pace with that through eight games this season (97.9).

Extrapolating Elliott’s season based on this average, he would conceivably have 1,175 yards at this point of the season, over a hundred yards of a lead.

Whoever does win the NFL’s rushing title at this point on the season will take home a trophy that rightly has an asterisk next to it. In Elliott’s absence, the seven runners in front of him have hardly been impressive.

After Week 9 of this season (the last Elliott played), things weren’t too different from where they are now:

Some quick mental math will tell you that, save for Mark Ingram, no other runner is using the power-play to make some serious headway.

What’s more, is over this same stretch of time Alfred Morris has performed far more admirably than he’s been given credit for. He has 307 yards over this period, second only to Mark Ingram.

In fact, if you were to merge the time that Elliott and Morris have been RB1 for the Cowboys through 12 games, that arbitrary running back would have 1,090 yards, 33 more than current league leader Le’Veon Bell.

All of this data tells us a few things.

First of all, Mark Ingram is pretty insanely talented. What’s amazing is that he’s doing all of this for a team that’s having another successful season by a running back in the form of Alvin Kamara. Kudos to you, Saints.

Secondly, Alfred Morris has been fantastic. He’s second in the time that he’s been the team’s primary ball-carrier only to the one who’s been performing at an elite level. Alfred Morris is for real, folks.

Finally, Ezekiel Elliott eats rushing yards at a pace unbeknownst to your average NFL running back. He spotted the field a lead early on this season, but he’d made his way back and was about to become the lead dog.

It’s worth noting that many people point to Elliott’s 8-yard day in Denver as another sign of credit to his season. While that theoretically sounds fine, all of these runners have had a game that serves as an outlier in a similar sort of fashion.

Ezekiel Elliott would have been leading the league in rushing by now. The data speaks for itself.

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