Dynasty Capsule: Dallas Cowboys

Bruce Matson

Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.

Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”

QUARTERBACK

Dak Prescott (JAN ADP: 123.67, QB12)

Prescott finished his 2018 season passing for 3,885 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also ran for 305 yards and six touchdowns. The Cowboys had a 6-2 record whenever Prescott recorded a rushing touchdown. Not to mention, in games Dallas lost, he averaged 3.29 rushing attempts per game (compared 5.45 when they won).

A lot of diehard Cowboys fans would say that he’s an inaccurate passer. To their surprise, he finished the season completing 67.7 percent of his pass attempts. That’s just .01 shy from his spectacular rookie season. He threw four more interceptions this year compared to his rookie season, but he also tossed the ball 67 more times. His average depth of target dropped from eight yards from the year prior to 7.5 and he finished his 2018 campaign tossing the rock for 3,889 air yards. According to PFF, he averaged an 87.1 quarterback rating while under pressure, ranking third in the NFL.

We saw another injury-plagued season from the offensive line. Travis Frederick was placed on injured reserve with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that disrupts the nervous system by weakening the muscles. There was also a lot of ambiguity surrounding the left guard position and couple that with the injuries that Tyron Smith suffered during the season, the offensive line really was never at full health last season. Prescott was pressured on 9.5 percent of his drop-backs. To put that in perspective, he received pressure from the defenses on just about one out of every ten pass attempts.

We might be seeing a buying opportunity for Prescott. The Cowboys finally fired offensive coordinator Scott Linehan a few days ago. Linehan lacked creativity in his play calling and was unable to make the necessary adjustments in games to help boost the offensive production. The replacement options aren’t the greatest, but it can’t get much worse compared to Linehan’s performance in 2018.

When it comes to wheeling and dealing in the stock market you want to buy the rumor and sell the facts. This means you want to buy ambiguity when it’s priced on the low and sell when we get all the information and the price is on the high. Honestly, we don’t know what the offense is going to look like a few years from now and his price tag is relatively palatable with a 123.67 ADP which usually makes him the 12th quarterback off the board in startup drafts. He’s only 25 years old and his price in startup drafts isn’t going to break the bank if you want to wait on a quarterback.

He might be even cheaper on the trade market. There’s a negative perception that surrounds the Cowboys’ offense and that perception sticks to Prescott in dynasty. If you need an upgrade at quarterback it might be smart to kick the tires and talk to the Prescott-owners in your league to see if that owner is low on Prescott’s long-term player value.

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Cooper Rush (JAN ADP: N/A)

Outside of preseason, we haven’t seen much of Rush. He has the potential to be a solid backup quarterback in the league, but that’s about it. The odds of him ever making an impact in fantasy are slim to none. He might get a run where he starts a few games due to an injury to the starting quarterback, but that’s about it. The Cowboys are going to rely more on Ezekiel Elliott if Prescott goes down, making him a tough prospect to want to own in deep super-flex leagues.

Mike White (JAN ADP: N/A)

The Dallas Cowboys drafted White in the fifth-round (171st overall) in last year’s draft. He a big quarterback with a strong arm. In college at Western Kentucky, he passed for 8,540 yards and 63 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons. Accuracy is his best trait and he’s really smart with the football. With all that being said, he’s a longshot and he will need to develop his game if he ever wants to even be considered more than an extra arm on the roster.

RUNNING BACK

Ezekiel Elliott (JAN ADP: 5.17, RB4)

The Ohio State product rushed for 1,434 yards and six touchdowns. He quietly caught 77 passes for 567 yards and three touchdowns. Counting his two playoff performances, he received 437 touches this year. He faced eight men or more in the box on 24.67 percent of his carries. Even though he played on one of the most frustrating offenses to watch in the NFL, he still finished the season fifth amongst running backs with 332.10 fantasy points, averaging 22.14 PPR fantasy points per game. His production was stable considering he only had one game with less than ten fantasy points.

Not many players can maintain a 4.72 yard per carry average on over 300 carries. Unfortunately, he has handled an ungodly amount of touches over the years. He has received 1,078 touches since his rookie season. If we roll it all the way back all the way back to his days at Ohio State, he has seen 1,728 touches since 2013. To his credit, he had done a very good job at avoiding the injury bug even though he is receiving one of the largest workloads in the league. However, when looking forward, the human body can only take so much. Father time is undefeated and it’s a matter of time before he starts breaking down. That could happen next year or six years down the road, but it’s something we can’t ignore.

Keeping his historical workload in the back of our minds, he’s currently the fifth running back off the board in startup drafts with a 5.17 ADP. His volume combined with his efficiency is the catalyst to his dynasty value. Ironically, his volume could also cause his stock to drop in the next few years when the wear and tear starts to set in. The price isn’t really worth the risk when you have safer options on the board like DeAnde Hopkins or Michael Thomas. Not to mention, in some drafts, you have the option of trading down and picking up future picks and other assets. On the flipside, you know your getting a workhorse back who will, barring injury or suspension, will finish the next few seasons as one of the top running backs in fantasy football. The short-term certainty is rolled into his premium.

Rod Smith (JAN ADP: 200.17, RB73)

Going into the season, Smith was considered a “must-get” handcuff in fantasy football. Just in case of a cataclysmic event would cause Elliott to miss a substantial amount of time, Smith could be the guy to swoop in and be at least an RB2 while filling the void. Just like Y2K, the end of the world didn’t happen and Smith was used sparingly, seeing just 53 touches on the season.

In a fantasy football vacuum, he was virtually useless. He’s not close to being an elite level runner and Elliott is always going to command a large market share of the carries. Smith is replaceable and the pool is going to be stocked with a lot of talented running backs via the draft in the next few years. Outside of his cheap contract that expires at the end of the 2020 season, the Cowboys have no incentive to keep him on the roster. He’s an easy sell in dynasty.

Darius Jackson (JAN ADP: N/A)

Jackson is an athletic specimen looking for his chance to carve out a role with an NFL team. He needs to live up to the potential in training camp if he wants to be with the team next season. He’s definitely a longshot, but he should remain on your watchlist just in case he gets an opportunity. Jackson has enough athleticism to be dangerous if he could somehow earn a large workload.

WIDE RECEIVER

Amari Cooper (JAN ADP: 24.00, WR13)

The Cowboys were in desperation mode earlier in the year when they traded their 2019 first-round pick for Cooper. Dallas’ passing game was struggling and the entire offense needed a jump start. After starting the season with a 3-4 record, the Cowboys capped off the season winning seven of their last nine games once they got Cooper on the field. The team made an immense turnaround which allowed them to make the playoffs and win the NFC East.

Cooper transitioned quickly and made everyone on the offense better. He caught 53 passes for 725 yards and six touchdowns. His route running was superb and he easily created space from defensive backs on a consistent basis. After he caught the ball, he was a threat to score on any given play, accumulating 311 yards after the catch. He owned a 24 percent share of the passing targets and racked up 719 air yards on the season. Cooper was also very efficient when the ball was in the air, catching 69.33 percent of the passes thrown his way. In the playoffs, he caught 13 balls for 171 yards and one touchdown.

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At one time, Cooper was considered a top ten draft choice in startup drafts. His stock plummeted when he couldn’t rekindle the flame with Derek Carr with Jon Gruden managing things from the sideline. After reaching his lowest point in November with a 38.25 ADP, his stock increased once he got a star on his helmet. Now, on average, he’s the 24th player off the board, making him the WR13 in dynasty.

Don’t forget, that he put together an amazing finish to the season without having a training camp to get on par with Prescott and the rest of the offense. How much more dangerous can he be after a full camp? Can a new offensive coordinator help elevate Cooper to another level? The possibilities are endless, but if he improves upon his 2018 season, then he could find himself in the top ten again by the end of the 2019 season.

Even though the price tag is still relatively high, there’s still room for growth, making him a very enticing buy. He’s going to see a relatively large market share of the targets no matter what and to the point where Prescott force feeds him the ball on certain occasions. When the season starts he will be 25 years old. It’s hard not to be excited about his long-term player value.

Michael Gallup (JAN ADP: 101.67, WR43)

Gallup finished his rookie campaign catching 33 passes for 505 yards and seven touchdowns. He struggled to develop a rapport with Prescott during the first few weeks of the season, but he finished the season strong. His dismal 48.5 percent catch-rate was partially due to Prescott missing him on deep passes preventing Gallup from ceasing a few big opportunities.

He led the team with 957 air yard while averaging a 13.9 average depth per target. He also saw a 14 percent target share. The usage was definitely there, we just need him to convert those targets and air yards into actual fantasy points.

He’s a young talented receiver with a cheap ADP. The price tag is more than attainable and there’s a good chance that he develops into a solid WR2. He was considered one of the top receivers in last year’s draft class and sooner than later he’s going to transition his talents to the NFL game.

Cole Beasley (JAN ADP: 223.50, WR95)

Beasley will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019. He will get a chance to test the waters. Considering he’s a run of the mill slot receiver, he shouldn’t command big money. There’s a chance that he resigns with Dallas, but with a draft class that’s stacked at wide receiver, it’s best that the Cowboys move on to a more explosive option. Beasley’s run as a fantasy relevant commodity is likely done. He will need to go to a team that is willing to funnel him targets.

Allen Hurns (JAN ADP: 235.33, WR109)

Hurns caught 20 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns this season. He was unable to carve out a sizeable role within the offense. His inability to provide an added spark to the offense was one of many reasons why the Cowboys traded for Cooper.

Hurns is signed through 2019, but he dislocated his ankle and broke his fibula during the Cowboys’ wild-card game against the Seattle Seahawks. There’s a good chance he’s going to be looking for a new team this off-season.

Noah Brown (JAN ADP: N/A)

Brown, a seventh-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, will be looking to expand upon his role in 2019. He has flashed talent a few times in his career but hasn’t been able to put the pieces together. With Cooper in town, it’s going to be hard for him to see a sizable workload. Gallup is going to have a stranglehold of the WR2 spot, leaving limited opportunities the rest of the receivers on the roster. I highly doubt he ever develops in a useable fantasy option.

Tavon Austin (JAN ADP: N/A)

Austin served as the team’s gadget option in the offense. He caught eight passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns and also ran the ball six times for 55 yards. The added speed is a nice option for the Cowboys. However, he’s never going to receive a large enough workload to be a functional asset in fantasy. He should be left on your waiver wire.

Terrance Williams (JAN ADP: N/A)

A foot injury caused Williams to go on IR early in the season. He also violated the league’s substance abuse policy. He’s signed through 2020, but there’s a good chance that he’s no longer a Cowboy when the season starts. Williams’ playing days are over and he should be left on the waiver wire in all dynasty leagues.

Cedrick Wilson (JAN ADP: 237, WR114)

A torn labrum caused an abrupt end to Wilson’s season. He was placed on IR in August and he never got the chance to showcase what he can do. Dallas drafted him in the sixth round of last year’s draft. He will need a good camp if he wants to remain on the roster.

Devin Smith (JAN ADP: N/A)

The Cowboys signed Smith to a futures deal. Injuries prevented him from getting his career off the ground. Now he will get the chance to compete for a roster spot on a team that has a lot of questions left unanswered at wide receiver. Smith is a deep threat that can make plays downfield which is something the Cowboys need. If he can remain healthy and prove to the team that he’s worth keeping around. The odds are stacked against him, but if he can transition his game, then he could be that situational deep threat that the Cowboys desperately need.

Lance Lenoir (JAN ADP: N/A)

Lenoir suited up in seven games and didn’t record a catch. There’s really nothing to see here.

TIGHT END

Blake Jarwin (JAN ADP: 178.50, TE21)

Jarwin, an undrafted free agent from Oklahoma, finished the regular season on a high note. He was the team’s main tight end and caught seven passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns in the season finale.

Right now, he’s slated as the team’s starting tight end. However, that could quickly change if the team drafts or picks up another tight end in free agency. Jarwin played well in spots at the end of the year, but he’s also not a tremendous talent. For what it’s worth, his 178.50 startup ADP is right behind Mike Gesicki’s by half a point. Gesicki was one of the top tight end prospects in last year’s draft. There’s a lot of ambiguity when it comes to his long-term outlook and if you can move on from him to a player like Gesicki or another established tight end then you have to make the move.

Rico Gathers (JAN ADP: 239.33, TE41)

Gathers is quite possibly one of the most athletic tight ends in the league. However, coming out of college, he was very green with not experience play at the college or high school level. The fact that was able to reel in three passes this year was very impressive. He’s a great story, a basketball player who played four seasons at Baylor making a massive transition to the NFL game. Unfortunately, he’s not developing at a quick enough rate and it appears that he’s not going to be a key contributor to the offense anytime soon. If you can still find trade value for him, then it might be smart to just move on.

Dalton Schultz (JAN ADP: N/A)

Schultz finished his rookie season catching 12 balls for 116 yards. It could be worse, but his performance was far from spectacular. It wasn’t like he was a high-end prospect going into the draft. Many dynasty enthusiasts were banking on him taking over the reins simply because Dallas didn’t have any talent at the tight end position. The fact that he couldn’t carve out a role when there was very little competition is very discouraging. Leave him on your waiver wire and only think about picking him up if he starts to turn things around.

Geoff Swaim (JAN ADP: N/A)

Swaim is used more as a blocker. He only caught 13 passes during his entire collegiate career at Texas. Injuries derailed his 2018 season, causing him to appear in just nine games. He should be on your waiver wire and not on your radar.

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bruce matson
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