The Cowboys offense took the NFL by storm last year, led by their star rookies, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott won Rookie of the Year but the award should have been split between both players. The Cowboys looked to be in trouble when Tony Romo was injured in the preseason but their offense was even better. The same cast is back for this season, but will the Cowboys dominate again or will their stars hit a sophomore slump?
— ESPYS (@ESPYS) June 28, 2017
Despite finishing with a 13-3 record, and being on the NFL’s elite teams, the Cowboy offense is not full of fantasy stars. Elliott is obviously one of the elite running backs, coming off a rushing title in his first season. Dak was extremely consistent but doesn’t offer huge upside as a fantasy quarterback. Dez Bryant is one of the most talented receivers in the league, but missed time with injuries for the second straight season.
So who is responsible for the success of this offense? The Cowboys offensive line is what separated them from other teams last year. DeMarco Murray won the rushing title behind the same line in the 2014 season. This season there are some changes up front in Dallas. Ronald Leary is now a Denver Bronco and Doug Free retired.
La’el Collins is attempting to move from left guard to right tackle. While a competition is open during camp at left guard. Former Cardinals first round pick Jonathan Cooper is projected to earn the spot. With shuffling on the line, there is potential the Cowboys running game won’t be as dominant this season.
With that being said, Ezekiel Elliott is one of the elite running backs in fantasy. Coming off the board just after David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, which is the correct spot. Elliott doesn’t provide the receiving production that Bell and Johnson offer but is a top five pick in standard leagues.
No rookie quarterback had a higher passer rating on throws 20+ yards downfield than Dak Prescott in 2016. pic.twitter.com/ODeFrOKzU5
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 27, 2017
Bust: Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott is the more interesting case of the two rookies. Taking the league by storm with Tony Romo breathing down his neck, Prescott is now the man in Dallas. With a completion percentage of 67.8% and only four interceptions, Prescott didn’t play like a rookie. The Cowboys offense is built to run the ball, so Prescott will never be asked to throw the ball 40 times a game.
Without any real weapons besides Elliott and Bryant, his upside is limited. His ADP in drafts is QB10 which is too high. He is currently being drafted ahead of Kirk Cousins, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Philip Rivers who all have better receivers and throw the ball more. Prescott should be drafted as your backup quarterback in standard ten team leagues.
Dez Bryant was fantastic over his last eight games of the season. Finally started to look like himself again.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) June 27, 2017
Dez Bryant is a difficult player to draft. If you’ve owned him the last two years you probably have sworn off drafting him again. Bryant possesses the skill set of an elite receiver but hasn’t produced elite stats the past two seasons. The NFL is filled with talented wide receivers, which makes finding the right value for Bryant difficult. His ADP is WR8, in front of T.Y. Hilton and Amari Cooper. If Bryant stays healthy he has potential to be top 10 wide receiver, but in a run based offense it is unlikely. He should be drafted as a WR2, which provides safety for owners not using their top pick on him but extreme upside.
Sleeper: Ryan Switzer
The rest of the Cowboys offense shouldn’t be selected on draft day. Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten are potential bye week fill-ins and someone to grab if Bryant gets injured. Wide receiver Ryan Switzer was drafted in the fourth round out of North Carolina. He plays the same role as Beasley, but will see snaps in the slot and as a returner in special teams.
Dan Bailey is one of the elite kickers in fantasy and benefits from the success of the Cowboys offense. Look for him to be one of the top five kickers off the board during your draft.