The Dallas Cowboys are retooling for another Super Bowl run after back-to-back 12-5 seasons. They remain one of the more successful teams, especially in the NFC. Since drafting Dak Prescott in 2016, the Cowboys have been a top-six scoring offense in four of his seven seasons as the starting quarterback. That includes two top-four finishes over the last two seasons, including the top spot in 2021. Even if the Cowboys themselves fall short of a championship in 2023, there is plenty of value on their roster to help fantasy football managers win a title of their own.
Dallas Cowboys Fantasy Football Preview
Key Subtractions and Additions
Subtractions: Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Dalton Schultz (TE), Connor McGovern (OG), Kellen Moore (offensive coordinator)
Additions: Brandin Cooks (WR), Mazi Smith (rookie DT), Luke Schoonmaker (rookie TE), Deuce Vaughn (rookie RB),
Since breaking his leg and ankle early on in the 2020 season, Dak Prescott has maintained solid fantasy value over the last two seasons. Dak has produced two, low-end QB1 fantasy seasons in both 2021 and 2022. During those seasons, of his 26 applicable fantasy performances, he scored 20.0 or more points in 14 of them. Dak accounted for 62 of the Cowboys’ 107 offensive touchdowns over the last two seasons, as well.
Dak is only averages 3.32 carries per game since his 2020 season-ending injury. He has no more than 182 rushing yards or one rushing touchdown in each of the last two seasons. Returning from injury and leaning on a strong run game has limited Dak’s rushing upside, therefore capping his fantasy ceiling.
Removing Ezekiel Elliott and adding Brandin Cooks to the Dallas Cowboys’ offense leads me to believe Dak could see an uptick in passing volume. I expect Dak to come off of fantasy draft boards relative to where he’s finished in rankings over the last two seasons. He’s a rock-solid, low-end QB1 once again with the potential for much more if he’s able to rush closer to 60 or even 70 times this season. His career-high attempts in a season in 75.
A big winner of the 2023 NFL off-season is Tony Pollard. Not only did the Dallas Cowboys release seven-year veteran, Ezekiel Elliott, but Deuce Vaughn is their only notable addition to the backfield as of now. Vaughn is 5’6″ and just 175 pounds.
Pollard returns this season after exiting their January playoff loss with a broken leg and ankle. One can assume the decision to release Zeke without a clear replacement shows confidence in Pollard’s recovery status. It’s also a good indication that Pollard is in for a massive 2023 workload.
Zeke leaves behind 231 rushing attempts; 50% of last season’s running back carries in Dallas. Pollard already commanded 193 attempts of his own in 2022. Taking on just a fraction of Zeke’s workload from last year would make Pollard a volume-based RB1 in fantasy.
Pollard will be an RB1 in fantasy, though, because he is an explosive, effective runner with an average of 5.2 yards per carry from last season. What he can do with over 200 carries, in addition to his pass-catching upside, is produce a top-five fantasy football season.
There’s still a chance the Dallas Cowboys add a notable name to this backfield. That includes a possible Zeke return with a major pay cut. Depending on who they may add, it could lower Pollard’s ceiling from top-five RB to top-10, but that’s about it. It’s his backfield as long as he’s available to command it.
Ceedee Lamb is already tied with Stefon Diggs for fourth in targets across the league from last season. His 28.6% target share in 2022 is what you want in a WR1 for fantasy football. Lamb continues to ascend as the Dallas Cowboys’ top pass catcher with expectations of seeing similar volume in 2023.
While adding Brandin Cooks into the mix seems like a threat to Lamb, consider that wide receiver Noah Brown and tight end Dalton Schultz leave behind a combined 29.7% after both signing with Houston in free agency. I’m not saying Cooks is going to command all of those vacated targets, but with so many to be had, he’s hardly a threat to Lamb’s already establish elite volume.
Brandin Cooks is on his fifth team in 10 seasons. He has produced at least one 1,000-yard season for the four prior teams. Though he’s due to turn 30 in September, I think Cooks still has a WR2 fantasy football season in him. He provides a legitimate deep threat to Dak Prescott and should open the field that much more for Lamb, as well as the run game.
Michael Gallup is a touchdown-dependent flex, at best, on a fully healthy Dallas Cowboys team. I consider him a rare wide receiver handcuff with a massive opportunity to boom in fantasy if Lamb or Cooks misses time for any reason. He’s averaging just 37.7 yards per game in over his last 23 regular season performances.
With Dalton Schultz now playing for the Houston Texans, the Dallas Cowboys turn to Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot, and rookie Luke Schoonmaker at the tight end position. The three of them have 30 total receptions combined at the professional level. Schultz had nearly, or more than, double their total amount in each of the last three seasons by himself.
It’s no secret Dak Prescott liked to throw to Dalton Schultz. I do wonder if any of the players on their current depth chart are capable of filling the Schultz void. Using a late-round flier on one is worth the potential upside. I’m expecting Dak to establish a stronger connection with Lamb, Cooks, Gallup and Pollard.
One of two defensive/special teams units to average double-digit fantasy points (10.3) per week in 2022 is the Dallas Cowboys. With their offense scoring at such a high rate, and the defense being as good as it is, it’s no wonder they allowed just 19.7 points per game, the sixth-lowest in the league.
Dallas is bringing back a majority of their key defensive pieces. They’re also adding rookie defensive tackle, Mazi Smith, into the mix to make an immediate impact as a run stuffer. Lastly, keeping Dan Quinn as their defensive coordinator is one of the biggest wins of this off-season for this team. He had opportunities to interview for head coaching vacancies but chose to remain with the Cowboys. After such a successful 2022 season, investing in their continuity in 2023 is worth considering for fantasy football.
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— Lisa Ann (@thereallisaann) May 6, 2023