- AFC East: Bills | Dolphins | Patriots | Jets |
- NFC East: Cowboys | Giants | Eagles | Redskins |
- AFC North: Ravens | Bengals | Browns | Steelers |
- NFC North: Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings |
- AFC South: Texans | Colts | Jaguars | Titans |
- NFC South: Falcons | Panthers | Saints | Buccaneers |
- AFC West: Broncos | Chiefs | Chargers | Raiders |
- NFC West: Cardinals | Rams | 49ers | Seahawks |
I don't think anyone would argue with the idea that the Cowboys offense needed a breath of fresh air. In 2018 the passing game looked old, slow and unimaginative. One of those problems is solved with the losses of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. At least they won't be old anymore. As for the rest, we're going to have to wait and see.
The positive thing from a Fantasy perspective is that the Cowboys have more than 250 targets to replace from last year. Targets are opportunity and opportunity is gold in Fantasy Football. This is the stuff sleepers and breakouts are made of. The negative side is that I don't see a potential star among the wide receivers and tight ends. Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams are the primary returning wide receivers and they'll be joined by newcomers Allen Hurns and third round pick Michael Gallup. I think everyone knows what Williams and Beasley are, so let's take a look at the new additions.
Hurns has spent the past four seasons in Jacksonville, and when he's been healthy he's been productive. His 16-game pace in Jacksonville was 58-821-6 on 103 targets. If he's able to stay on the field I expect Hurns to lead the Cowboys in targets and possibly approach his catch (64) and yardage (1,031) numbers from his career year in 2015.
Gallup spent the last two seasons at Colorado State, where he caught 176 passes for 2,690 yards and 21 touchdowns in 26 games. I'm not sure I see an elite skill here and have questions about where he can get open at the next level. But Pro Football Focus loved Gallup, grading him as the best receiver in the 2017 class:
With how little the Cowboys throw the ball it's hard to imagine more than one wide receiver has significant Fantasy value for the Cowboys. Right now I expect that Cowboy will be Hurns, but we'll all be watching Gallup's progress closely this summer.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
EXPECTED PPR FP
Breaking down the touches
Scott Linehan has been with Jason Garrett for each of the past three years and they've been very consistently vanilla. The Cowboys run the ball as much as any team in the league (47 percent) and they've been trending towards being a very WR-centric passing attack. In 2018 63 percent of the targets went to receivers and they've never thrown even 17 percent of their passes to running backs. Elliott will get enough work on the ground that he doesn't need a lot of receptions to be an elite back.
What will be interesting is how they handle tight end now that Jason Witten is gone. Three years ago we saw the Cowboys give 25 percent of their targets to tight ends, but last year that number fell below 20 percent. The health of Rico Gathers and development of Dalton Schultz may answer that question for them.
- The target projections for receivers are very malleable right now. This is one place where I'll have to use coachspeak to guide projections because I'm not sure there's a huge talent difference between the receivers.
- Rico Gathers isn't at the top of any imaginary Cowboys' depth charts right now, but he's the player with the upside to actually have Fantasy relevance if he wins the job.
- Rod Smith should be viewed as one of the top handcuffs, if you're into that type of thing. With the Cowboys run-heavy scheme, Smith would become a top-25 back if Elliott goes down.
- Elliott lost a lot in terms of efficiency in 2017, slipping to 4.1 yards per carry. Some of that can be explained by his offensive line play not being as good. With his workload, he's on the shortlist of running backs who could finish No. 1, but there's potential for disappointment if the efficiency doesn't bounce back and the team gets fewer cracks at the red zone.
For some reason the team acquired Tavon Austin from the Los Angeles Rams. Austin was supposed to be what Tyreek Hill is, but it's really never come together. His career rushing averaged (6.7) is almost as good as his receiving average (8.7) but he's never topped 550 yards in either category. Austin could have some value in leagues that reward special teams yardage, especially if he earns targets out of the backfield or Elliott goes down.
Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim are viewed as the favorites to start at tight end and rookie Dalton Schultz could make some noise this summer. I don't believe any of them have Gathers' upside but they have a clearer path to getting snaps. Unless someone wins the battle in convincing fashion I'll be avoiding the Cowboys tight ends this season.