Would You Rather: Draft Ezekiel Elliott or James Conner in 2019 Fantasy Football

By Ian McCafferty
Los Angeles Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers
Los Angeles Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers / Justin Berl

Cover Photo: Justin Berl/Getty Images

It might be early spring, but it's never too early to start planning your fantasy football draft strategy. Running back is always a hot commodity early in the draft and making sure you snag a top back can often be the difference between a fantasy championship contender and missing the playoffs.

Last season, Steelers running back James Conner was the ultimate sleeper pick. Most often just drafted as a handcuff for Le'Veon Bell, he was quickly thrust into a starting role and turned into a top-5 fantasy back.

Meanwhile, Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing and had an incredible, yet fairly quiet, season as Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley took most of the highlights and headlines.

Heading into the 2019 season, Elliott is rated as the No. 2 running back by ESPN while Conner comes in at No. 5. So if they're both sitting there early in the first round, who should you draft?

It's actually sort of shocking how similar their stats were last season before Conner got hurt. The only real advantages either player had is Elliott's 240 more rushing yards, but that's mostly because he had 39 more carries. Conner, on the other hand, had six more rushing touchdowns.

One of the bigger surprises is the fact that Elliott had the same amount of targets, but hauled in more receptions than Conner did last year. That would have been an area where Conner could have presumedly gained an advantage.

With the passing game essentially cancelling each other out, it comes down to rushing and that goes the way of Elliott, mostly because we know Dallas has proven to consistently feed Elliott the ball.

Conner may have had more touchdowns, but scoring is one of the most volatile stats year over year. We just don't know what the Steelers offense is going to look like this year, while we know Elliott will consistently get the ball for Dallas.

Both backs are great options at the top of the draft, but it's tough to go against Elliott with the way things currently stand.

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Ian McCafferty is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ian McCafferty also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username itmccaff. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.