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Oddsmakers eye changes to Cowboys without Elliott

By Matt Youmans  (VSiN senior editor) 

July 17, 2017 05:24 PM
Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott was the NFL’s leading rusher as a rookie, piling up 1,631 yards on 322 carries. He also had 15 rushing touchdowns.
© USA Today Sports Images

Much to the concern of the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott continues to run into trouble.

With investigations ongoing, Elliott’s missteps could cost him some playing time. Las Vegas bookmakers are keeping a close eye on Elliott’s situation, and odds will move if the NFL hits the Cowboys star with a suspension.

It was alleged that Elliott punched a man in the face Sunday night during a confrontation in a Dallas bar. Elliott is also the subject of an NFL investigation into a domestic violence accusation made against him last year.

Speculation persists that Elliott might face a suspension of one to four games.

“That’s a big deal if he misses four games,” South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said Monday. “I think it does mean something, especially the first game of the season.”

Elliott was the league’s leading rusher as a rookie, piling up 1,631 yards on 322 carries. He also had 15 rushing touchdowns.

In the Sept. 10 season opener, Dallas is a home favorite over the New York Giants. The South Point lowered the line from 5½ to 5 on Monday, while a majority of books adjusted the number to 4½.

“I really believe the smarts will be looking to take the ‘dog in that game,” Vaccaro said. “The first week of the season, after the year the Cowboys had and because it’s Dallas and not the Jacksonville Jaguars, I think it would matter.”

Vaccaro said Elliott’s absence “would be worth a point” to a game line and might force an adjustment from 9½ to 9 on the Cowboys’ season win total. As of now, Dallas’ win total of 9½ is priced at minus-110 over and under. Obviously, the length of any potential suspension for Elliott would be the determining factor in a win-total tweak.

“It’s a wait-and-see thing,” Vaccaro said.

Dallas finished 13-3 and won the NFC East by two games last year. At the South Point, the Cowboys are posted at 5-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, and they are plus-110 favorites to win the division in 2017.

After hosting the Giants, the Cowboys face road trips to Denver and Arizona before a home game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4.

Elite quarterbacks such as Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New England’s Tom Brady were worth between 3 to 7 points to the line when sidelined in recent seasons. Brady was suspended for the first four games last year, and the Patriots went 3-1 without him.

The quality of the backup factors into the starter’s value. The Cowboys have capable backup running backs in veterans Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris.

Elliott, Arizona’s David Johnson and Pittsburgh Le’Veon Bell are the NFL’s most valuable running backs from a point-spread perspective.

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