The 2017 season for the Dallas Cowboys was marred by off-field
issues with running back Ezekiel Elliott and internal strife between
former star receiver Dez
Bryant and the coaching staff. Through all of the ups and
downs of the turbulent season, second-year quarterback Dak Prescott
managed to finish as the 14th ranked quarterback in points per
game for the second consecutive season.
Although his end totals mirrored his rookie season in terms of
total fantasy points, Prescott did not look like the same confident
quarterback from the previous season. His 62.9 % completion percentage
was nearly five percentage points lower than in 2016; he threw
for 300 fewer yards while throwing seven more interceptions.
After a strong start to the season that included three weeks
of three or more passing touchdowns against the Rams, Packers,
and 49ers from Week 4 through Week 7, Prescott failed to throw
a passing TD in six of his final ten games.
The Cowboys completely revamped their passing weapons entering
the 2018 season, with Bryant leaving the team as a cap casualty
and tight end Jason
Witten retiring to join the Monday Night Football booth on
ESPN. Prescott will need to quickly build a rapport with veteran
WR signee Allen Hurns and rookie Michael Gallup, and one of the
many tight ends on the Dallas roster will need to pick up the
slack from Witten’s abrupt departure. Although Prescott does not
have attractive weapons on paper, the absence of Bryant could
make the Dallas passing game more efficient, as Prescott will
no longer need to worry about appeasing a prima donna wide receiver
who is past his prime. Assuming Prescott will continue his recent
streak of logging at least five rushing touchdowns and he can
reach at least 20 passing touchdowns, another 14th-place finish
is well within reach.
A sophomore slump and six-game suspension could not keep Ezekiel
Elliott from finishing the season as the second-ranked running
back in fantasy points per game. The former Ohio State University
star posted 1252 total yards and nine touchdowns in just ten games
of action, highlighted by a three-touchdown performance Week 7
against the 49ers.
With no pending suspension in sight (that we know of) and the
Cowboys releasing Dez Bryant and presumably refocusing on the
running game, Elliott is a lock for well over 300 total touches
and double-digit touchdowns, making him one of the safest picks
of the first round.
The narrative of defenses stacking the box against the run now
that Bryant is no longer on the team is a favorite argument against
Elliott in the fantasy community. But the reality is defenses
did not fear Dez on the outside last season, and Elliott was a
dominant force yet again for fantasy owners. Barring injury or
suspension, Elliott’s elite volume, commitment to the run
by the Cowboys, and the vaunted Dallas offensive line will all
but ensure another top 5 finish for Zeke.
A breakout 2015 season in which Hurns caught 64 balls for 1030
yards and 10 touchdowns earned the former Miami Hurricane a lucrative
4-year, $40 million contract extension from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After two injury-riddled seasons and just five touchdowns in his
next 21 games, the Jags cut bait on Hurns in favor of signing
Marqise Lee to a long-term deal.
Hurns quickly signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Cowboys
over the offseason and looks primed to be the No.1 wide receiver
in the Scott Linehan offense opposite Terrance Williams. The Cowboys
also signed Deonte Thompson from Buffalo and added rookie Michael
Gallup in the draft to challenge Hurns for the starting role for
the departed Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys will continue to be a run-first offense centered
around Ezekiel Elliott and the vaunted and expensive Dallas offensive
line, making it difficult for any of the wide receivers to have
a monster season for fantasy purposes. However, if Hurns does
secure the starting Z receiver position and receives at least
100 targets, he could be a viable No.3 WR in 12-team leagues.
A former junior college transfer who played his final two years
of eligibility at Colorado State University, Gallup impressed
in his short time in Fort Collins with 176 catches for 2690 yards
and 21 touchdowns over 26 games. Gallup averaged just over 15
yards per reception while using his 6’1”, 205-pound
frame to battle for contested balls.
Although his combine results did not turn any heads (4.51 40-yard
dash, 36-inch vertical, & 10 reps on the bench press), the
Cowboys used a third-round pick on Gallup to help replace Dez
When asked about how much Gallup will contribute as a rookie,
Dallas Cowboy owner and president Jerry Jones said the former
Ram would have an immediate role. How significant that role has
yet to be determined, and veteran Allen Hurns will likely get
the first crack at the starting wide receiver opposite of Terrance
Williams. However, Gallup’s upside makes him an attractive
post-10th round pick in all formats.
After setting career-highs in targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns
in 2016, Beasley went from an emerging PPR value back down to
fantasy obscurity in 2017. Aside from two somewhat fluky multi-touchdown
games against the Packers in Week 5 and the Chiefs in Week 9,
Beasley failed to score more than three fantasy points in 13 of
his 15 games.
The loss of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten may open the door once
again for Beasley to have value in deeper PPR formats, as there
are 219 targets up for grabs based on last year’s passing
volume of Dak Prescott. The Cowboys brought in veterans Allen
Hurns and Deonte Thompson via free agency and drafted Michael
Gallup in the third round of the NFL draft to help bolster the
passing game. Despite the new faces, it is not out of the realm
of possibility that Beasley and Prescott’s rapport over
the past two seasons will result in the diminutive slot receiver
returning to the 98 targets that made him fantasy relevant in
For 15 years, Jason Witten was a foundation of the Dallas Cowboys
offense as a rock at the tight end position. That changed this
offseason with the abrupt announcement that Witten opted to retire
from the NFL in favor of a lucrative color commentator opening
on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
Witten’s announcement caused a bit of a firestorm in Dallas
as owner and president Jerry Jones and the Cowboy front office
scrambled to deal with a position that required very little attention
over the past 15 seasons. The Cowboy brain trust used a third-round
pick on Dalton Schultz in the 2018 draft, and signed undrafted
free agent David Wells, joining a stable of Geoff Swaim, Blake
Jarwin, and former 2016 selection Rico Gathers.
Gathers, a former basketball player at Baylor who has limited
experience playing football, is an athletic freak in the mold
of Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates. At 6-6, gathers has the size
and athleticism to create mismatches for linebackers, but he has
yet to play in a regular season game.