In Defense of Elijah Holyfield: I’ll Still Gamble On Him In Dynasty

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Elijah Holyfield has been destroyed by the draft and dynasty community for his athletic testing. I’m not totally out on him yet.


This is not going to be a popular take in the dynasty community. I’m ok with that. This is probably going to be a gamble that will not pay off. I’m ok with that too. I’m not giving up on Elijah Holyfield. I know that everything about his athletic testing says that I should, but I’m not going to.

His tape is good. It’s easy to forget that after his abysmal combine and his even worse pro day, but his tape was really good. Some people had him in the conversation for RB1 in this class at one point. At the very least, he was being discussed in the next tier of running backs.

The combine changed all of that.

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I recently had a dynasty startup draft take place between the combine and Elijah Holyfield’s pro day. I thought I was being clever and decided to take a chance on Holyfield.

I watched his 40-yard dash at the combine. He looked like he had bad form out of his stance, and I thought maybe it was just his form, not his speed that was the problem. I was pretty confident that he would get his technique fixed by the time his pro day came around.

The idea was that I would draft Elijah Holyfield at a discount due to his poor combine, and then immediately see a rise in value when he recovered at his pro day. Fool-proof right? Wrong.

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In a bizarre turn of events, Elijah Holyfield somehow tested worse at his pro day. I have absolutely no idea how he went from an already poor 29.5 inch vertical to a 20.5 inch vertical. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

So the next step was to go back and watch the tape again. It’s still good. He doesn’t look like a burner, but he doesn’t look slow. He certainly doesn’t look 4.78 slow. I have literally no explanation for his poor testing. We may find out that he has been injured this entire time. Maybe it is a work ethic thing. I have no idea. I’m willing to take that chance though, because he looks like a good football player when you watch his tape.

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Holyfield has fantastic vision and has a great feel for the flow of a defense and where holes are going to develop. He rarely makes poor choices behind the line of scrimmage and gets upfield promptly when he feels a crease opening up. He’s patient, but not indecisive. This is a balance that many running backs struggle to find.

Elijah Holyfield dominates through contact. There may not be a more powerful back in this rookie running back class. His power and balance are simply exceptional. Even if there is no good explanation for Holyfield’s poor athletic testing, he is going to find a role in the NFL as a grinder between the tackles. If he does literally nothing else, he is going to be a premier option to fill a short yardage back role for an NFL team. I think he can do more than that, but that is his floor.

It’s not a steady role for fantasy football purposes, but it is a higher floor than a lot of the running backs that will be selected before him in your dynasty rookie drafts.

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His change of direction ability is surprisingly good. You don’t expect it when you turn on his tape, but this is actually a decent aspect of his game. I think that he is a far more well-rounded runner than he gets credit for. He’s got the ability to win in multiple ways and a hard floor as a goal-line back. That is more than can be said for some of the other running backs in the 2019 rookie class.

It’s clear that Elijah Holyfield is never going to be a home run threat or a burner. That is just something that everyone has to accept. I’m fairly certain that everyone has.

The one major concern that I walked away with from his tape was if he is a capable receiver.

We have no idea if Elijah Holyfield can catch the football. That’s not to say he can’t, but there is almost zero production in the passing game. People questioned Nick Chubb‘s ability in this area around this time last year, and it turned out that he was fully capable of contributing, but it is another question to be added to the large list of concerns in Elijah Holyfield’s profile.

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So what do we do with Elijah Holyfield in dynasty rookie drafts. The odds are absolutely stacked against Elijah Holyfield. Every athletic testing threshold says that he is incapable of success at the NFL level. I’m willing to be stubborn on this one and gamble on him anyway.

People are going to let him fall to the third round of their rookie draft, potentially even later. No perfect prospect is landing in the third round. No safe prospect is landing in the third round. Every player in that round and beyond is a gamble. The question is who you are gambling on. I’ll gamble on Elijah Holyfield. The tape is good. The upside is tremendous.


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